Nothing’s more frustrating for a seller than having your home sit on the market. And sit… and sit… and sit some more.
Maybe buyers are touring your house, but not making offers. Or maybe buyers aren’t visiting your home at all. Either way, you’re starting to feel rejected, like the last kid to be picked in dodge ball.
Have no fear. Often, the reason a home sits on the market for longer than expected boils down to a few easy-to-fix issues. Here are six of the big ones.
1. You’ve priced it too high.
No matter what you feel your home should be worth, the truth is it’s only worth what people are willing to pay for it. Get a feel for what the comps — or comparable homes in your area — are going for and listen to buyer feedback. If people are consistently telling you the price is an issue, it’s time to pay attention.
Trust your real estate agent to inform you about a fair price for the current market, and if you’re truly dead-set on getting your ideal asking price, take an honest look at whether you need to make upgrades to your home or wait for a market uptick.
2. No one knows it’s for sale.
Simply sticking a “for sale” sign in the lawn won’t cut it. Today’s buyers do the majority of their home searching online, which means you need to get your home listed on major real estate sites (like Trulia) and on the MLS, or the multiple listing service, used by realtors and brokers. You’ll also want to make sure your online listing includes plenty of high-quality, well-staged photos.
3. It’s got glaring issues.
It could be a big issue (like a failing roof or wonky foundation), or it could be a small but obnoxious issue that buyers just can’t get past (like your beloved wall-to-wall pink carpeting). Either way, the fact that your home isn’t selling means buyers are consistently finding something wrong with it. Ask potential buyers for feedback after you conduct showings; their answers may help clue you in to the problem.
Some buyers are willing to accept a a lower price or a closing credit for a home with a sticking-point issue, but others are turned off from the start and figure it’s not worth the hassle of fixing it themselves or trying to negotiate a concession.
4. It doesn’t show well.
Make sure that when prospective buyers tour your home, there’s nothing stopping them from falling in love with it.
Open those blinds and curtains to let the natural light in and put lamps in areas that are especially dim. Remove any bulky furniture that makes the rooms hard to navigate. Take care of those small items you’ve been putting off, like fixing sticky drawer pulls or that leaky faucet. Small updates like these could be turning off buyers.
5. Buyers can’t picture themselves living there.
The more you enable buyers to picture their own life in your house, the more likely they’ll be to make an offer.
Clean and remove clutter and get rid of overly personal items like those family photos along the stairway and your kids’ artwork on the fridge. If your home is currently empty, near-empty, or your furnishings aren’t to most buyers’ tastes, you may want to consider hiring someone to professionally stage your rooms.
6. You’ve neglected the curb appeal.
More than one buyer has pulled up to a house whose listing they liked, taken one look at the exterior, and driven away. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous your home is on the inside; if buyers aren’t willing to step in the door, then you’ve lost them.
A few simple fixes can make your curb appeal irresistible. Weed and mulch the flowerbeds, trim the hedges, clear the walkways, and repaint any flaking siding. Consider adding some “homey” touches like a wreath on the door or a bench on the porch. You don’t need to spend a ton on landscaping; just making the outside look presentable and welcoming can make all the difference.
Paula Pant is an award-winning journalist specializing in personal finance, investing, real estate and entrepreneurship. She's a former Deputy News Editor of the Colorado Daily (EW Scripps).
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