A recent Active Rain Q&A entry asked if agents agreed with the statement that if a house isn’t selling the only reason why is the price. Nothing more and nothing less.
Some agents did agree. They said anything would sell if it was listed at the right price. Others said no, that answer is way too simplified. There are many other factors to consider.
What are the other reasons why a house isn’t selling.
One agent suggested that some houses will never sell, no matter what. His example was a house backed up to a 7-lane freeway. I disagree with him, because at the right price it could sell – perhaps not as a place to live, but as a perfect place for storage or a workshop in which people used noisy equipment. It would simply need to be marketed correctly.
Which brings me to one of the primary reasons why a correctly priced house might not sell: the marketing, or lack of it.
Marketing determines whether the right buyer notices the house.
You could list the most beautiful, well-kept house in town. You could price it correctly. And if you failed to market it correctly, it could sit there for months – or years.
I’m thinking of a couple of listing photos I saw a while back. One was of cop cars with flashing lights in front of the house. One was of a bedroom – with a camo bedspread draped over a mattress that was on the bed sideways, and a closet door hanging partially open. Neither of these photos was designed to capture a buyer! But I sure was tempted to call the listing agent and ask why the heck that mattress was sideways – and why he used that photo!
An agent commenting on one of my Active Rain posts told about a vacant land listing that had been for sale for a year when it expired and he took it over. He had it under contract within a month after he raised the price, filmed a video, and did some positive marketing.
In this case, the low price made buyers assume it was undesirable. That could happen with a house as well.
If a house isn’t selling, look at the photographs and the property description.
As an agent, it’s your job to notice, highlight, and showcase those features and benefits that are most likely to grab a buyer’s attention.
Perhaps showcasing those features means hiring a professional photographer. Perhaps it means hiring someone like me to write the property description. It might even mean having a Community Page written in order to interest buyers in the neighborhood.
In some cases, when you just can’t see anything to love about your new listing, it might mean asking a friend to help you find the positive benefits and features of a house.
One more factor: pay attention to highest and best use…
Sometimes the land and the location are worth more than the house. A situation often seen in Florida is that of perfectly usable beach front houses being torn down and replaced with mansions. Agents who understand which homes are candidates for such treatment put plenty of emphasis on the location and the view when marketing those homes.
Most older communities have at least a few old houses that are past their useful lives. But they CAN be sold if the agent focuses on the land beneath them.
Marketing also includes details like where you place ads, how promptly you respond to inquiries, and how much direct promotion you do.
In other words, success may well depend upon how much effort you make after you take that listing.
So do take a hard look at your own marketing efforts before saying “It won’t sell.”
Perhaps what worked for your last ten listings just isn’t the right approach on this one. Talk it over with your broker or do some brainstorming with a trusted colleague. Consider that you might not like this house, so aren’t giving it your all.
Going back to the idea that the right price sells anything…
Perhaps even a house with ugly photos and no property description might get attention if the price was low enough. But would they call or just assume that it wasn’t worth their time? They might shy away, assuming that there was something drastically wrong with the house or the land.
So, maybe not.
If the price really is wrong, you need to address that with your sellers, but…
First take a look at what those sellers could do to increase the chance of it selling at the current price. It could be that:
- The house isn’t being presented well – is it cleaned, polished, and smelling good before every showing?
- The sellers aren’t leaving during showings – so buyers leave before they can fall in love.
- Showing times are limited – so they’re missing buyers who can only come on weekends or during the evening.
If so, you may need to apply some “tough love” to get them straightened out.
If all of those and similar issues have been resolved and the house still isn’t selling, it’s time to consider a price reduction.
But first… Consider whether the house would sell at the seller’s preferred price if they did a little more work.
- Are there small repairs that should have been done?
- Could it use fresh paint or new flooring in a room or two?
- Do they need to “neutralize” with some softer paint and flooring colors?
- Do they need to remove family portraits, trophies, and collections?
- Does the kitchen need a deep cleaning?
- Does the exterior need a power wash, or a touch up on the trim?
- Should the sellers call in a stager?
You know the approximate cost of most small repairs, and you have a good idea about how it will affect the selling price. So discuss the situation with your sellers and help them decide whether the time and money spent on freshening up the house will bring a good return on their investment. If the answer is no, then show them how much the price must be reduced.
Because sometimes it really does come down to the price.