Stuck with a “stale donut,” as in a house that has been on the market with little traction? “While it might look just as beautiful as the day it went on the market, it’s been hanging around on the shelf just a little too long, which can turn off buyers,” says Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect and founder of home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency, which has offices in Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Los Angeles.
Most real estate agents have been there: Despite your best efforts, you find a house not selling in a hot market. It’s a stressful situation for everyone, especially your client, who’s wondering, “Why won’t my house sell?” We have some advice.
What To Do If A House Isn’t Selling
Sometimes it happens in the first week and sometimes it happens after the home has been languishing – the homeowner begins to fret and ask, “Why isn’t my house selling?” Of course, there could be many reasons, some within your control, some not. Here are some options for what to do when a house won’t sell.
Figure Out What’s Wrong
It’s easy to jump to a conclusion when you’re having trouble selling a house, but it’simportant to seek additional intel to figure out why your listing has gone cold, says Ashley Baskin, a licensed real estate agent who serves on the advisory board for Home Life Digest. She advises looking at the property through the eyes of the buyer to see if you can spot anything that would make you want to pass, but also get some outside opinions.
“Reach out to agents who toured the property and solicit feedback from their clients or other potential buyers who passed on the property as a great way to get to the source of the problem,” she says. In the best-case scenario, you might hear a recurring theme that’s easy to fix with an update or some staging.
Change The Price
Every house will eventually sell at the right price.It’s possible you misjudged the market and didn’t price it properly. However, there’s another tactic you should consider: You may just need to make a small tweak as you might have inadvertently been closing the listing off to an entire segment of the market. Riordan points out that people search for properties via a price range … like $450,000 – $600,000. But if your number is above or below those parameters, it won’t show up. “With a slightly different number … say $425,000 … all of a sudden you’ve let in a different demographic of people who will see your property.”
One additional pricing tactic is to offer a bonus, says REALTOR® Eve Henry, with Eve Henry Homes in Prosper, Texas. “I may offer an extra $3,000 to anyone who brings me a viable contract by the end of week and then blast that offer on a virtual flyer to 10,000 agents locally.”
Redo The Listing Information
Baskin notes that good writing with engaging descriptions of the home’s amenities will help potential buyers picture themselves living in the home and neighborhood. “A skillfully crafted description can work wonders for driving traffic to tour the home,” she says. You also may want to focus on local amenities and highlight information that out-of-state buyers might not be aware of, and possibly even extend your advertising to other areas to expand your pool.
And of course, photos are key, and yours might not be doing the heavy lifting. Chase Michels with Michels Realtors in Downers Grove, Illinois, recommends getting creative with nighttime photos or drone photos to make it stand out. Something else important to note is whether the photos match the current season. “You don’t want to be selling a home with snow in the pictures in the middle of the summer,” he notes – a dead giveaway the house might be languishing. And make sure that you have staged it properly, as bright, fresh furnishings might make the new photos stand out to potential buyers.
Up Your Curb Appeal
Surely you have advised your clients on what to do with their yard, and make sure that they are keeping it up. However, it could be the neighbor’s home that’s the eye sore, says Baskin. “You may even have to offer to spruce up a neighbor’s yard or paint a fence that’s not technically on the property, but if it’s detracting from the appearance of the home, it is worth it.”
How Do You Sell A House That Needs Work?
While you might choose to make cosmetic or other changes, your seller won’t always get the money out of it, so sometimes you have to be creative. One technique is to figure out what buyers in your area are specifically looking for and see if you can deliver. For example, maybe you turn a third bedroom into an office or a TV room.
Or if the home is plagued with odd rooms and spaces, Baskin recommends “redefining” them. “Come up with a creative use for these areas so buyers won’t see ugly or wasted space. Instead, they will see reading nooks, children’s play areas, coffee stations and mini bars, effectively hiding your home’s little idiosyncrasies.”
You also can focus on the home’s strongest features, no matter the condition, recommends Cedric Stewart, residential sales consultant at Entourage RG at Keller Williams in Washington, D.C. “If the home needs work, then it’s best for the agent to sell the other benefits, such as the size, floor plan, unique features, and location, such as proximity to amenities or schools.”
How Do You Revive A Stale Listing?
“Days on market” can be your enemy when a house has lingered in the listings; the longer it has been there, the more prospective buyers wonder what’s wrong with it, especially if a house is not selling in a hot market. The good news is that there are some savvy ways to refresh a stale listing.
Relist The Home As New
A price reduction isn’t enough, says Linda Shaughnessy with Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty in Chicago. “When you relist the property as ‘new,’ it will be sent to buyers who are registered to receive new listing updates that meet these criteria, such as those registered on major real estate platforms and MLS searches.”
Get People In The Door
Pull out all the stops if you need to, recommends Janis Benstock, broker and owner at Settle Down Philadelphia. For example, depending on the price point, hold a first-time home buyer seminar and market to all your clients and others in the industry; you can even offer an incentive, like a home warranty, if they make an offer.
Make sure that your new materials are in agents’ hands, and then get them in to see the listing firsthand. Benstock recommends partnering up with the agents of other listings in the area and holding an open house tour. The more houses, the better, she says. “Market jointly with other agents and drive as much traffic to the area as possible. Have a map showing all of the opens and hand them out at each property.”
Renew Your Social Media Marketing
Whatever you’ve been doing, redouble your efforts once you have the fresh photos, and use social media to its fullest potential– from neighborhood groups to local business groups. Don’t overlook Pinterest, says Benstock, especially if you have eye-catching photos that reflect the holiday season or a garden in full bloom. “Post them on your Pinterest so they get repinned, but make sure the original source of the photos is your website so the traffic gets directed to you.”
With a little creativity – and probably some patience – your client’s refrain will soon turn from “Why won’t my house sell?” to “What an offer!”
How about you? Have you ever turned the tide on a “stale donut”? Let us know below!
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