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8 Reasons Homes Don't Sell & How to Avoid Making Those Mistakes

Bret Chance

Integrity, hard work, do the right thing, problem-solving, professionalism, driven, teacher. Those are words that describe Bret Chance...

Integrity, hard work, do the right thing, problem-solving, professionalism, driven, teacher. Those are words that describe Bret Chance...

Jan 22 11 minutes read

Getting ready to sell your house can bring on a lot of questions. When I sit down to talk with people about their concerns or fears over selling their house, generally the biggest concern is that it won’t sell. There are definitely things that you can do to ensure your house sells, and not only sells, but for the best price possible.

Below you'll find eight reasons homes don't sell, and how to avoid making those mistakes.

1. Limiting Accessibility for Showings.

Sometimes when I meet with seller clients, they tell me "we want to only show our home on the weekends" or "our child naps between 1 and 3, so we don't want any showings during that time." While there can be extenuating circumstances that don't allow showings (i.e. sick child), if you have general restrictions on showings, many times a buyer will just "move on" if they can't see your house, and not try to schedule their showing during a different time.

We use a technology called Centralized Showing Service (CSS), that streamlines the showing scheduling and feedback after the showing process. With CSS, a real estate agent calls (or schedules on their website), with a showing request. CSS then contacts a seller to ensure that the day/time the agent has requested is "okay" with the seller. If the seller approves the showing request, CSS notifies the showing agent, and they then show during the requested window of time. 

With Centralized Showing Service, we can actually block out specific times that a seller doesn't want showings. So, we can restrict showings to "no showings after 8 p.m." or "no showings before 7 a.m." Restrictions like these are pretty easy to set up and also relatively commonly accepted. However, restrictions in the middle of the day or only allowing showings specific days of the week, can really hamper your ability to accomplish your end goal of selling your home.

The answer: When possible, allow showings of your home when buyers want to see it. Real estate agents in Denton County and the surrounding areas can set you up with an electronic lockbox, that can only be accessed by real estate agents, home inspectors, and real estate appraisers holding a special key. Each time one of these special keys is used to access the lockbox, the electronic lockbox keeps a record of access, by the specific professional that accessed it, and also the day/time they accessed it. This is a much more secure and controlled method of allowing access to your property than using a combination lockbox.  Between the electronic lockbox and CSS, you'll have a record of anyone showing the property, and can also allow relatively easy and very secure access.

2. Photos.

When talking to buyers, they often tell me how frustrating it is to search for homes online, and see either really bad, very few, or NO photos of a property they might be interested in. With nearly all buyers beginning their home search online, if you have bad or very few photos, they can skip right over your listing. Your online showing is your first virtual showing. If your house shows well online, potential buyers will want to schedule a physical showing to actually walk into your property.

iPhone or automatic camera photos aren't going to cut it here! When it comes to marketing one of your most expensive assets, professional photos are a must.

The answer: Make sure you are marketing your home with professional photos. It can make all the difference between showings or no showings.

3. Price Bands.

Home buyers start their search on the internet and search by price bands. What is a price band? It can also be known as a price range. Nearly all real estate websites have a search method that allows you to search properties between X and Y price. With those search fields, most of the time they are pre-populated with even numbers, or buyers are just conditioned to search even numbers. Meaning, they might search between $300,000 and $325,000. 

Why is this important? If you price your home at $299,999, you'll miss the buyer that is looking in the price band of $300,000 to $325,000.

The answer: Proper price band placement is REALLY important when determining a list price for your property.  You can miss a whole group of buyers  by only one dollar! Consult with your professional real estate agent to find out exactly which price band you need to be in and how the higher you go in price, price bands widen. (i.e. Price bands in the million dollar range aren't $25,000. They could be $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the area.)

4. Hiring a Discount or "Limited Service" Broker.

There are some real estate agents that will charge a nominal fee to get you set up with a listing in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This type of broker usually has one to two prices for the services they offer. But with those services, it typically will cover just putting the listing in the MLS. As a home seller, you are then responsible (usually) for your own photographs, description, and any additional marketing on your house. This can definitely save you some money if you are great at marketing to your target homebuyer audience, versed in real estate contracts and the legalities, an expert negotiator, and generally are comfortable representing yourself in the sale of your house. However, if you fall short on any of those last qualities, you will most likely leave money on the table (IF the house ends up selling), or at worst, find yourself in a nasty legal situation.

Real estate agents that work full time at their profession and offer a full spectrum of services bring a different skill set to representing you. Sometimes Mom is get what you pay for. 

The answer: Hire a professional Realtor, to represent you, market for you, negotiate for you, and handle the myriad of details involved in selling (and closing) one of your most important (and usually most expensive) assets.

5. Looking at the Home Through "Seller's Eyes".

When you are living in your home, there is a certain way you live in it.  That might not be the best way to have the house shown to prospective buyers. One example of this is if you leave your toothbrush in a stand on the bathroom counter. Or you leave shampoo and soap sitting in the shower. However, a buyer doesn't want to see these things as they are looking at homes. This reminds them that they are in someone else’s home. They want to see themselves living there, not someone else. 

Another example is in your kitchen. You might have knives, a mixer, coffee maker, cutting board, and/or a toaster oven sitting on the kitchen counter. You probably use a lot of those items on a daily basis while living in your home. However, a buyer wants to feel like there is a lot of counter space in the kitchen to prepare their own meals. Having all of those items on the counters can make it hard for them to picture how much counter space is there.

The answer: Have a close friend or your real estate agent (better yet, a professional stager) walk through the house with you as a prospective buyer. Have them point out items that might make it hard for them to picture themselves living in your house. Make a list of those items and correct them. 

6. Lack of Exposure.

Many people don’t realize when they put their house on the market for sale, they just entered into a competition. A competition against every other house for sale in their area. So marketing is important. You want you house to stand out and get seen by as many people as possible. A good marketing plan will give your house exposure to the people that could be your potential buyer.

 The answer: Make sure the real estate agent you choose to hire has an extensive marketing strategy. One that includes online exposure in places that have the most media, as well as traditional exposure like open houses.

7. Condition of Your House.

Unless you are trying to appeal to investor buyers, this can be one of the most common reasons I see houses not selling. Years ago, buyers were willing to put some money and "sweat equity" into a home they purchased. But now, nearly every home buyer I represent wants the instant gratification of being able to buy their new home and move right in. They don't want to have to remove wallpaper , replace appliances or flooring, or repair that broken down fence after moving in. And studies have shown that they will typically think it will take three times the actual amount needed to update or repair the home. If they do decide to make an offer, it will generally be with this much lower price in mind.

The answer: You have two options here. Either update and repair your home to appeal to a wider range of buyers, or discount your asking price to allow a new buyer to make the updates and repairs. If you do decide to discount, you'll want to discount it for both the price of doing the work and also the hassle the buyer will incur having to have the work done. 

8. The Price is Too High.

This is a really common reason that homes fail to sell. Sometimes when I meet with clients that are wanting to sell, they tell me "Let's start at this higher price and if it doesn't sell, we'll drop the price." This can be a huge mistake. If you are priced too high, you can turn off buyers that think you are priced too high and they don't want to insult you with a lower offer. You can also have issues with non-cash buyers needing to get the house to appraise. Meaning, an appraiser will prepare an appraisal of market value for the lender, and you have to be able to prove why your house is selling at a higher price than those around you.

The answer: Talk to a professional real estate agent about pricing and all the aspects involved with it. You'll want to discuss comparable sales in your area, updates or no updates to your home, and how the real estate market is trending locally.

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