When it comes to reasons a home is not selling, “If it’s not condition, it’s always price,” says TJ. “And in fact, it’s usually always price. Everything can sell if the price is right!"
Pricing a house too high is a common mistake: according to research, nearly 50% of agents found that resisting the temptation to overprice is the biggest challenge sellers face.
Pricing a home for sale is tricky. There are a lot of ways to slice the data to determine your home’s fair market value. And while data, usually from sales of comparable homes in the area, is important, a top agent’s experience can be invaluable when building a pricing strategy.
“My job is to position my listings to where they sell for top dollar in the first 30 days,” says TJ "that's the beauty about real estate, the numbers don't lie, they tell a story."
How do you know if your home is priced too high? If you priced the home yourself, consult a real estate agent for advice. A top agent should be able to tell you at once if your asking price is too ambitious.
Another way is to listen to the feedback you are getting from people at open houses and showings. You can even just browse local listings. If your home is priced higher than comparable properties in your area, your problem is most likely price.
What’s the fix?
Time for a price drop. “I don’t think you should go more than three to four weeks without doing a price adjustment,” says TJ.
And while it is no fun to realize your home is not worth what you thought it was, you are not alone. In 2019, 40% of sellers reported reducing the asking price of their home at least once, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
So how much should you drop the price? “You don’t want to be the house that drops the price a thousand dollars every week,” says TJ. “I’d say a significant price reduction will usually get the job done.”
2. Your home doesn’t fit the mold
The 30-day rule does not apply to everyone or every home, however. Some properties have features that make it more difficult to find the right buyer.
“I either think you have a unique property, or a property that is relatively easy to sell,” explains TJ. Unique properties—like very large homes, very high-end or expensive houses, homes in unusual areas, or just homes with odd or unusual features—take a little longer to match with a buyer, and that is okay.
What’s the fix?
First of all, patience is key. If your home is unusual, you are probably going to have to wait a little longer for the perfect buyer to show up.
Second, make sure your marketing and advertising strategy is designed to appeal to the buyer you are looking for. Cast the unusual features of the home in the most positive light, and try to get your listing in front of the right people.
Selling an unusual home might require listing the property in places other than the usual online real estate sites. If there is a specialty website, mailing list, local app like Nextdoor, or even print publication that could reach specific potential buyers, make sure to use it.
Think about what appealed to you when you bought the home—there has to be another buyer out there who feels the same way. And if your main motivating factor for buying an unusual house was a rock bottom price? Well, there is another solution.
3. Your staging is bad
It might seem silly—the buyer is not shopping for furniture, after all—but staging matters. “There is a difference between staged homes and vacant homes,” says TJ. “Typically, a staged home sells for more money and it does sell in a shorter amount of time and the data supports it!”
In fact, 67% of top agents agree staged homes will sell for at least 1%-5% more, and 83% report staged homes get an offer from buyer's faster than those left alone.
Why? “The more you can let them picture their own stuff there, the better,” says TJ. Unstaged, or worse, badly staged homes can seem cluttered, dark, and small and take away from allowing the buyer to create an emotional connection with your home.
While vacant homes have the problem of potential buyers not being able to really envision the space’s potential, homes crammed with too much of the current owner’s stuff feel cramped and overwhelming, taking away from the buyers ability to focus on things they like!
Incorrect staging can fail to show off your home’s assets or even worse, highlight flaws you are hoping to draw buyers’ attention away from.
And staging is not just about decluttering and bowls of fruit. It is also about fixing up the little things that distract people from your awesome home. Most buyers have trouble seeing past cosmetic issues like scuffed paint, floors in need of refinishing, or outdated fixtures.
What’s the fix?
Make little upgrades, paint, fix anything that is broken, clean up your yard, and do a brutal decluttering pass.
Consider hiring a stager to help you show your home at its best. If you are working with a top agent, they almost certainly have someone whose eye they trust: use that resource.
It is understandable that you do not want to spend a lot of money fixing up a house you are selling, but little upgrades will often bring a huge return on investment.
And packing up a bunch of your things and sending them to storage or living in a home with furniture that isn’t yours might sound unappealing, but can sell your house faster and for more. Hey, nobody said selling a home for top dollar and fast is easy!
4. Your curb appeal is no good
Curb appeal is like the staging of the outside part of your home. It’s an old real estate chestnut, but the first impression a buyer gets from your house is important.
An ugly yard or run-down facade will turn people off. The last thing you want someone thinking as they walk up to your door is “fixer-upper.”
While it doesn’t necessarily make rational sense that a few flowers would translate to thousands of dollars in purchase price, a lot of homebuying decisions are done at least partially subconsciously, or by “gut.” Staging and curb appeal are part of that.
Hard to believe? The numbers don’t lie. Over 75% of top real estate agents across the country say that well-landscaped homes are worth anywhere from 1% to 10% more than homes with no landscaping. These same agents say that boosting curb appeal is the no. 1 thing you can do to improve the marketability of your home.
What’s the fix?
Upgrade your landscaping, get your grass a brilliant green, plant a few flowers, and fix anything obviously broken on the front of your home.
A professional landscaper or stager can help advise you on the easiest ways to make your yard look great. And hey, why not paint your door a cute color? The right shade could help make the sale.
5. Your listing photos aren’t professional quality
44% of buyers look online before doing anything else, and 87% of buyers found listing photos very useful, according to NAR. If your listing photos don’t show off how great your house is, nobody is going to come in person to see it. "Our job is to get that buyer to WANT to see your home in person" says TJ.
These days, a few poorly-lit iPhone shots just aren’t going to cut it: professional listing photos ranked as the most valuable website feature among 9 in 10 buyers under age of 55, according to NAR’s 2020 Generational Trends Report, while another study shows top-notch photos can help your home sell 32% faster. "This is why we insist on getting professional photography done for ALL of our full service listing packages" says TJ.
What’s the fix?
Hire a professional to re-do your listing photos. This is something your agent should have arranged for you at the outset, and one of the things your commission is going to pay for, you hope!
If your realtor doesn’t provide a photographer, it’s worth it to find someone yourself. It’s another instance where a little investment on the front end will deliver huge returns.
6. You’ve got a specific problem to address
Even if a showing doesn’t provide you with a buyer, it gives you something important: data. “Showing feedback is extremely important,” says TJ.
According to TJ, the questions your agent should be asking at a showing are, “What’s wrong with this home? What would need to change to make you want to buy this home?” If you’re getting the same answer from multiple people, you know you have a problem and you need to address it ASAP.
What’s the fix?
Once you’ve identified that there’s an issue, you can work to mitigate it or minimize it. If multiple people seeing your house say it’s too dark, add lighting, declutter, or have windows cleaned.
If buyers are having trouble envisioning something specific—where to hang a TV in a living room full of windows, or how to fit a king-sized bed in a smaller master bedroom—you can update your staging to illustrate a solution.
Unfortunately, some things can’t be changed. If the issue is that you’re located on a busy street or the neighborhood isn’t as picturesque as buyers were hoping? “Price cures all,” says TJ. "or distract them from the negative and focus on something more positive your home has to offer".
7. You’re getting bad advice
Almost everything on this list could have been prevented by working with an experienced agent at the top of their game. Your realtor should help with pricing, staging, and curb appeal, and should be taking charge of marketing and responding to feedback from showings.
What’s the fix?
Make sure you’re working with an agent who is an expert in your area or the kind of home you’re trying to sell.
“Unfortunately, when you list with the wrong agent,” says TJ, “You either end up taking a lot less for the home, or staying in it for another six months or a year.”
The top 5% of agents sell single-family homes for up to 10% more than average and quickly: take TJ’s average of selling homes 59% faster than his peers in 2019.