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Why Won’t My House Sell?

by Michelle Goetzinger May 02, 2019

You’ve listed a good price for your beautiful, three-bedroom, 2 car garage ranch home with the freshly remodeled bathroom and new roof (all clearly spelled out in the description). You’ve held open houses, hired a great realtor, and advertised your house online and in print media. But it’s been three months and you haven’t sold it. What are you doing wrong?

There are several common but preventable mistakes that can keep your home on the market much longer than necessary. Read this article to help you avoid (or fix) them.                                                                   

Price

It’s possible that your house isn’t selling because the asking price is out of sync with its image with buyers. Buyers must feel that a house checks every box on their list (at least, the most non-negotiable ones) before they can justify paying the asking price, and to make things more difficult, each buyer will form their own impression (or image) of the house based on their needs and experiences. A good image is key to selling a home and is influenced by more factors than just its physical appearance. A potential buyer will evaluate a house on school district quality, neighborhood quality, and average commute time (proximity to good jobs) of its location, in addition to the number of bedrooms, closet space, and hardwood floors it has. If your house just isn’t in a prime location, you may need to factor that into the asking price. Or find some unique qualities about your home’s location that would appeal to a wide range of potential buyers, like an interesting but little-known nearby landmark, great hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or historical lore about the area.

Description of the percent of Buyers who will view a property based on it's relationship to fair market value.

It’s also important to know the dynamics of your housing market. In a seller’s market with more buyers than homes, you can price your house near the top of its range. In a buyer’s market with more homes than buyers, it’s better to price your home in the middle of its range to attract buyers without taking a heavy loss. A comparative market analysis will help you ensure your home is priced accurately. It never hurts to compare your home’s price to what a typical one in your area costs to know that the asking price is fair. Sometimes a realtor will rate your home’s price higher than its true worth to win your business. This may be the case if you’ve had many showings, but few offers, or if your home costs much more than similar ones in your locale.


Publicity

It’s important when selling a house to “put it out there” as much as possible.  Potential buyers will want to see lots of photos to get a good feel for the house’s character. Use a quality camera, good lighting, and try different angles to really make hardwood floors or a newly refinished fence “shine”. Videos or even virtual tours can be another great way to show off your house. You could use videos to give buyers a 360 view of your home’s exterior that they couldn’t see in a standard online gallery, show off your nice yard, etc. Even some interior features such as a wood-burning fireplace or rotating closet are more appealing when buyers can experience them personally (or at least get all the effects). Plus, a video or virtual tour will allow a buyer to focus on the details most enticing to them. Each buyer will have slightly different needs and it will be hard for you (or your realtor) to think of every single point that might be of interest.

Social media also needs to be a key part of your selling strategy. Instagram and Pinterest are great platforms to share photos to, especially if your home can be marketed as filling a trendy niche like “rustic” or “sustainably designed”. Facebook ads are a super effective way to reach more buyers and target specific demographics such as retirees, newlyweds, or first-time homeowners. You can emphasize different features of your home to appeal to each demographic.

Presentation

Your home should look fresh and inviting to anyone who enters, and this becomes even more important when you want potential buyers to feel at home there.  A quick coat of neutral paint in every room to hide any scuff marks and give a cohesive look to the interior is always a good idea. Clean your house thoroughly (polish floors, wash windows, etc.)  and remove as many personal effects as possible so buyers can see themselves living there.  Baking cookies before a showing is also a great idea because it will make you house seem warm, cozy, and inviting, plus it will smell great.


Time 

It’s important not to let a house sit on the market too long. A listing longer than 90 days tempts buyers to make low-ball offers to see how little they can get away with paying. If it’s been three months and your house is still on the market, you need to re-evaluate the situation. You should first ask your realtor to re-assess its value. It’s possible the housing situation has changed a lot since your home was listed and the price has not been updated to reflect that. If the assessment is still the same, you may need to have a frank conversation with your realtor or hire a new one. It’s important to have a realtor that will price your home accurately instead of inflating its value to win clients. Ask about their selling record and average on-market time for each home they’ve sold (or are in the process of selling). It may be necessary to take your home off the market, adjust its price, and then repost it to start fresh and attract new buyers.

It’s common to experience the frustration of a house that won’t sell. With these tips, hopefully you can avoid that situation, or take the necessary steps to correct it.

Having a hard time selling your house? Call Michelle!

Michelle Goetzinger, Pittsburgh.  Your City Own It.

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