Nancy’s home has been on the market for nearly a year without an offer. She has reduced the price so low that some agents have asked her broker if there’s something wrong with her house. It’s now listed at less per square foot than many other properties in the area.
There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for an offer. And in a tough selling market, you could be waiting a long time.
While you’re playing the waiting game, your agent will eventually start to put some pressure on you to lower your list price. Before you take that step, think about whether there is another reason your home isn’t selling.
First, is there something about your home that is keeping buyers from making an offer?
Have you cleaned, uncluttered, and brightened your home? Have you cleaned or replaced dirty or worn-out carpeting? Have you painted your rooms in a bright white, or off-white shade? Have you had a landscaper or tree-trimmer cut back bushes and trees that have grown in front of your windows? Have you taken half the items out of your closets and refolded your clothing so that your closets seem bigger?
While gutting an outdated kitchen and bathroom may seem extreme, today’s home buyers are leery of taking on a remodeling project after they’ve just spent top dollar on your home. Instead of doing a gut rehab, consider doing some minor remodeling in order to freshen the problem area.
In a kitchen, you may be able to paint the cabinets, or change the hardware, light fixtures, or curtains. In a bathroom, you may be able to buy a new shower curtain, matching towels, floor mat and accessories to give the whole room a lift while not spending a lot of money.
If your home is already in perfect, or near-perfect, condition, then it’s time to consider the competition.
Have any other neighborhood properties in your price range sold? If so, why have they sold? Are they being marketed more aggressively? Is the seller offering buyers (or the buyer broker) a bonus? Is the home is perfect condition? Does it have a better location or curb appeal than yours?
To get a good handle on the competition, ask your agent to take you to see homes that are similar to yours that are still on the market. Then, you have to ask yourself why these homes haven’t sold while others sold quickly.
One answer is that there may not be enough buyers looking in your price range. While this is tough to gauge, take a look at how many buyers your home has attracted? How many are visiting open houses in your neighborhood each weekend? What is your agent hearing about the number of people looking to buy in your neighborhood?
If the number of buyers for your price range and neighborhood is a little low right now, for whatever reason, then it’s unlikely that lowering your price a little is going to make much of a difference. You’d have to lower the price of your home significantly, and you still might not generate an offer. While it’s a tough call, you may want to keep your price where it is until buyers start filtering into your area and price range.
When should you lower your price?
If your home is priced more than other homes comparable to yours in the neighborhood, you should consider lowering your price. If you get a fairly good number of prospective buyers crossing your threshold over the first three or four weeks your property is listed, including a number of second or even third showings, but without fielding an offer, lowering your price a bit might get a nervous buyer over the threshold.
That’s what happened to Monica. She had put her current home on the market as soon as she signed a contract for her new home, which is under construction. As the weeks went by without an offer, she got nervous and lowered her price by 4 percent. Almost immediately, traffic increased dramatically. Two weeks after that, she got an offer.
Stay on top of what’s going on in your neighborhood, and ask your agent to watch the prices of homes similar to yours that are selling. The best way to gauge your list price is to see how much other sellers are getting for their properties, and in what time frame.