If the listing for your home hasn’t been attracting buyers for a few weeks in a fast-paced real estate market, or for a few months in a slower one, you certainly have good reason to be worried.
A home doesn’t sell due to a variety of factors, some of which you can control and some of which you can’t.
Let’s start with the things you can control, which also happen to be the most important elements of any home’s appeal to buyers: price and condition.
Price Your Home Right, From the Start
A good REALTOR® will help you determine the correct price for your home based on a thorough comparative market analysis (CMA). The reason it’s so important to price your home appropriately from the beginning is that a home that’s priced too high will languish on the market without any offers.
Even if you lower the price later, you will have lost the momentum of the initial listing period and buyers will assume there’s something wrong with the home. Eventually you may sell it, but more than likely the final sales price will be lower than your correct initial price would have been. Price your home too low and you have lost out on potential profit.
Your price should be based on current local market conditions, not on what you need to pay off your mortgage, what your neighbor sold her place for a year ago, nor your guesstimate of what your home is worth. Your REALTOR®’s CMA will look at recent sales, homes that didn’t sell and were pulled off the market, and current listings to guide your price decision.
Condition of Your Home
Regardless of your local market conditions, buyers have high expectations for your home, beginning with the exterior. While you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money, you do need to raise the level of your home’s curb appeal with some sweat equity. Pull weeds, trim the grass, plant a few flowers and perhaps paint your front door to make sure prospective buyers don’t decide to drive away.
Inside, your home needs to be consistently clean, neat, decluttered and depersonalized so that buyers can visualize themselves living there. Your REALTOR® should be able to suggest ways to prepare your home for a sale, which, by the way, is nothing like the way you live in it. Your kitchen counters should be cleared, your bed always made and your dishes always put away in case a buyer wants to visit.
Marketing Your Home
When you choose a REALTOR® to list your home, make sure you ask about photos and a marketing plan. The majority of buyers look online first at properties so it’s crucial that your home has multiple professional-quality photos that make it look as enticing as possible, and that your home appears on multiple websites so buyers can see it. A listing without a photo or with one badly lit photo isn’t likely to generate many offers.
Make Your Home Available
One of the more challenging aspects of listing your home for sale is that you must make it available to buyers as easily as possible. Buyers prefer to see a home without the owner there, so make sure there’s a lockbox at your property and that you allow nearly unlimited access to prospective buyers.
Sometimes market conditions or a specific flaw in your home make it tougher to sell as quickly as you would like. Your REALTOR® can help you evaluate the market and let you know if you need to offer particular incentives, such as closing-cost help. If your home has an awkward floor plan or is located on a busy street, you and your REALTOR® can come up with ways to emphasize its positive aspects and deemphasize any negative aspects, such as by staging the backyard or highlighting the renovated kitchen.