It’s frustrating: You’ve had your house on the market for a few months. Other sellers are headed to closing, but you’ve yet to get an acceptable offer. Doubt and even a little fear are beginning to set in. Are you doing something wrong? What can you do differently? Here are 10 common reasons a house isn’t selling and what you can do about them.
The big picture
Keep in mind that the problem may not be with your particular house. What is the condition of the market nationally and regionally? Are interest rates rising or falling? What is happening in your city? Is your local economy strong or soft? How are home sales going in your town? How are sales in your neighborhood? Is the house you are selling in an area of the city that has good schools and is growing and attracting businesses, or one that has seen better days? When market conditions are soft at the national, regional or local level, even a great home will not sell unless you are extra diligent in pricing and marketing your home.
If market conditions are strong, however, and your house is not selling, you must figure out what the problem is. Here are some challenges your home might be facing.
Your location is not popular
Your home may not be in your community’s growth area, where job commutes are short, schools are highly rated and people want to live. You can’t fix your location, so if your home is not selling, you need to be on top of your game with pricing, marketing and perceiving who your buyer might be. Seek ways to compensate for location and reach specific customer types. Perhaps, for example, your target customers are retired empty nesters who don’t need good schools or close commutes.
Your house isn’t staged
If you didn’t stage your home before you listed it and the house is not selling, ask your agent to recommend a professional stager to dress it for success. Remove excess furniture, family photos and heavy window coverings, add vibrantly colored wall art and couch pillows, and clear out the clutter.
Your house needs repairs
If potential buyers can see clear signs of deterioration like peeling paint, dripping faucets or holes in Sheetrock, they’ll wonder whether there are even bigger problems they can’t see, like an HVAC system that hasn’t been maintained. If your house isn’t selling, fix visible problems.
Your floor plan is awkward
A house that is not selling may have a problematic floor plan. Buyers are generally turned off by houses that have fewer than three bedrooms and two baths. Likewise, odd room placement and quirky traffic flow will hurt your home’s sales potential. But don’t invest in a big remodel right before selling. You won’t get that investment back. Instead, if an awkward floor plan is the reason your house isn’t selling, brainstorm with your agent on what kind of niche customers might like your plan. Then market to them.
Your house needs updating
Tired, outdated rooms and/or exteriors may be the reasons your house is not selling. Don’t drop tens of thousands into major upgrades simply to sell, however. Instead, if your kitchen, for example, is oh-so-1980s, invest in smaller-dollar cosmetic boosts whose costs you might recover such as new appliances and door and cabinet hardware. Fresh paint inside and out and a refinished front door can help give a home a fresher look.
It’s a hot market and you rushed to sell without doing the fundamentals
Your home may not be selling because you acted too fast to take advantage of a hot market. You may have hurried your choice of agent, failed to get a comparable price report to help you set a reasonable asking price, and thrown together a marketing plan. Just because a market is hot doesn’t mean you can skimp on these basics. If anything, the competitiveness of a hot market demands more diligence. Slow down and take care of the fundamentals.
Your house is overpriced
You may be in a hot market, but don’t assume that you can ask top dollar and buyers will trip over each other running to buy your house. Buyers and agents can spot an overpriced home, and if you end up dropping the price, it will reflect poorly on your listing on the Multiple Listing Service. The solution: Before you list, your agent should do a thorough comparable price analysis and set your price thoughtfully.
Your marketing is poorly executed
More than 80 percent of home shoppers start their search online. Your house should be on all the major home listing sites, and your listing should feature professional photos and a virtual tour. Opinions vary on the effectiveness of holding a traditional public open house, but an agent open house where other agents tour is a good strategy for showcasing your house.
Your house stinks
Anything that causes lasting odors hurts your sales chances. If your house isn’t selling and you’re a smoker or pet owner or your house is musty, apply fresh paint and have carpets, upholstery and curtains professionally cleaned.
Your agent is not up to the task
Always hire a full-time, knowledgeable agent with experience and a good track record. Steer clear of that friend or relative with a real estate license who dabbles part-time. You need a pro that takes the job seriously. If your house isn’t selling, find a new agent by asking for referrals from friends and reading online reviews.