6 Reasons Why Your Home Isn’t Selling (And What To Do About It)
By Molly Grace
Over the years of living in a house and turning it into a home, it’s easy to develop an attachment to it. Your home becomes an extension of yourself. That’s why it can be so frustrating when it isn’t selling.
However, just because your home isn’t selling doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to live. There are a lot of reasons homes have trouble attracting buyers, including things you can’t control, like market conditions and local inventory.
Luckily, there are some things you can control. If you find you’re making one (or more) of these easy-to-make home selling mistakes, don’t fret. There are plenty of things you can do to overcome these common obstacles.
The Price Isn’t Right
Over and over, the real estate professionals we talked to all said the same thing: The most common reason a house has trouble selling is because it’s overpriced.
This can especially be a problem for sellers who aren’t working with a real estate agent. Experienced agents are experts in the art of properly pricing a house for sale. They also have resources available to help them determine how much a house is likely to sell for.
“Homeowners rarely have the tools and data available to real estate agents, so they rely on Zillow and other website estimates of their home value, which are quite often inaccurate,” Corey Crossman, a real estate broker and REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Advantage in Raleigh, North Carolina, said.
Real estate professionals have easy access to home sales data for your area, so they can look at homes similar to yours and see not only what price they’re being listed at, but what they’re actually selling for as well.
What To Do About It
If you aren’t working with a professional, you need to price your home as a professional would. This means looking at local data, not pricing based on what you think the house is worth and how much you’d like to profit from the sale.
Look at what the professionals refer to as “comps” – comparable sales. Comps are homes similar to yours that have sold recently, ideally within the past 6 months. A comp should be close to your house and in a comparable area. For example, a house one block over from you might be close, but if yours is on a busy street while it’s in a quiet neighborhood, that house is likely to sell for a higher price. Comps should also have a similar layout and features, such as the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
For Sale By Owner’s Pricing Scout home estimating tool will help you price your home based on nearby comps.
You may also be able to find helpful home value data through your municipality’s tax accessor’s office or by using the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Calculator to get an estimate of what your home might be worth based on the average rate of appreciation for homes in your area.
Once you’ve done your research, you’ll be better equipped to set the asking price for your home.
Be very conscientious when choosing that number, as it can be hard to recover from overpricing, even if you end up reducing the price. If the original asking price is too high, your home could end up sitting on the market longer than is normal for your area. When that happens, it becomes even harder to sell. If a buyer sees that a home has been on the market for a long time or has had one or more reductions in price, they may wonder if something is wrong with it, and you may only get offers even lower than your reduced price.
You Love Your House Too Much
Being too precious over your home can lead you to create lots of problems for yourself, from overpricing to not being open to negotiation.
“When a homeowner tries to sell a home on their own, they look at their house with rose colored glasses. They overlook the little things that stand out to a buyer,” Laurie Rose, a real estate agent for John R. Wood Properties in Naples, Florida, said.
This can include overlooking damaged components, such as water-stained ceilings, or not fixing broken items, like a cracked light switch. But the buyer notices everything, Rose said.
When you’re used to your home, things that are red flags for buyers have likely become quirks or minor nuisances for you. Renovations that you put a lot of time and money into might have a lot of emotional value for you, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into home value. You need to overcome these obstacles to be able to look at your house as a real estate agent would and not take it personally if someone offers you less than you think the house deserves.
What To Do About It
Be objective. Without a real estate agent, you have to act as your own businessperson. This means not letting your love for your home cloud your decisions.
Since you don’t have a real estate agent to point out things you may not notice, bring in your own objective party. This could be a friend or family member who hasn’t spent a lot of time at your house and would be able to look at it with fresh eyes.
When you’re in the process of showing your home, be open to feedback. Do your best to keep emotions out of the negotiation process.
Little To No Marketing
This was another big one among the real estate agents we heard from. Though amateurs may not realize it, marketing the homes they’re trying to sell is a big part of a real estate agent’s job.
“One large mistake I see when showing for sale by owner homes to my clients is poor marketing of the home. They’ll have photos which are dark or have lots of personal belongings in them,” Jen Snodgrass, a REALTOR®with REMAX Equity Group in the Portland metro area, said.
If prospective buyers don’t know that your house is on the market, you’re wasting your time. And in an era when 44% of buyers start their home search online, if your home doesn’t have a robust online presence, you’re going to have a hard time attracting buyers.
“Most agents not only expose the home on MLS but are talking about it to their office, pushing it out on social media, hosting and marketing open houses, and marketing to other agents who will typically have buyers who are qualified (preapproved with a lender),” Snodgrass said.
What To Do About It
Advertise your home in as many places as you can. You want it to reach as many potential buyers as possible.
You also need to make sure that buyers like what they see when they first encounter your home. This means having really good pictures.
Your pictures should be professional quality. If you have a good camera and a decent grasp on the basics of real estate photography (make sure everything is well-lit, remove clutter and personal items, and only use pictures that are in focus and sharp), you may be able to take the photos yourself. Just don’t try snapping them with your phone camera, unless you have one of the newer smartphones that have high-quality cameras.
You’re Not On The MLS
The MLS is the gold standard for getting your home seen by buyers. MLSs, or multiple listing services, are databases that real estate professionals use to view houses that are for sale in their area.
If you aren’t on the MLS, you aren’t getting exposure where it really matters. When real estate agents look for homes to show their clients, they use their local MLS database. If your home isn’t on it, serious buyers are less likely to see it.
What To Do About It
If you want to get your home on the MLS, you’re going to have to team up with a licensed real estate agent, since they’re the ones who have access to those databases. This will likely cost you.
Look for a broker who offers a flat fee MLS listing service. For a one-time fee, a licensed real estate broker will list your home on the MLS for you.
Another option is For Sale By Owner’s “The Professional” package, which will set you up with a licensed home selling specialist who lists your home on the MLS for you.
You Aren’t Giving It The Time It Deserves
Real estate is a full-time job, but if you’re trying to sell your home on top of a full-time job of your own, it’s possible you aren’t giving it the time it deserves.
While an agent might be available for last-minute, middle-of-the-day showings, you likely can’t drop everything to go let people into your house.
James McGrath, cofounder of the New York City real estate brokerage firm Yoreevo, said that this is a common problem with for-sale-by-owner homes.
“If you can’t show during the day when you’re at work or like leaving town on the weekends so you aren’t doing open houses, you’re making it difficult for buyers to buy, and that’s the last thing you want,” McGrath said.
What To Do About It
Before you decide to venture into the world of selling your own home, be honest with yourself about whether or not you have the time to do it.
Pick a time when work isn’t busy and you don’t have any big vacations coming up. Make sure you can be around on weekends. Make it as easy as possible for buyers to visit your home.
You Need (A Little) Help
You might not like the idea of having to call in a professional – after all, you likely decided to sell your home yourself to save money on professional services. However, you may encounter situations where you’re truly out of your element and need help from someone who does this for a living.
What To Do About It
If you’re having trouble overcoming any of the problems outlined above, it might make sense to talk to a professional about what you should do.
For example, if you’re having trouble figuring out how to correctly price your home, hiring an appraiser to get a professional’s opinion on your home’s value may end up being well worth the money.
For Sale By Owner offers a couple of packages that can help you out. The Partner package partners you with a Home Listing Coordinator who can help guide you if you’re having trouble effectively marketing your home.
The Professional package offers a professional home valuation that can help if you’re having trouble pricing your home. If your photography is lackluster, the package will pair you with a local professional photographer.
Pinpointing The Problem
Sometimes, all you know is that your home isn’t selling, and you’re not entirely sure why. How can you find out what your issue is? Pay attention to where in the process potential buyers are backing out.
“A rule of thumb that can be helpful for homeowners to think about: If a house is getting a lot of showings but no offers, that means the marketing is working and the home looks compelling, but the price is likely too high. If a home isn’t even getting showings, the price could still be to blame, but more often than not, the home just doesn’t look compelling enough to draw buyers in,” Crossman said.
The simple fact that you’re selling your home yourself means you’ll deal with some unique obstacles. It can be harder to get potential buyers to even look at your house, especially if they’re working with an agent who is wary of working with independent sellers.
However, by preparing for the obstacles listed above, doing your research and making an effort to be as professional as possible while showing potential buyers and their agents that you know what you’re doing, you can increase your chances of selling your home for what it’s worth.