The Answer to Why My Home Won’t Sell
As a REALTOR® I feel unfortunate regret when sellers want to know “Why my home won’t sell?” It is almost always because the home isn’t priced to effectively compete in the marketplace. When a homeowner trusts the expertise and the list price recommendation made by their agent, the results are usually fast and favorable. The buyer gets the home they want at a price they agreed to pay and this creates a win-win situation!
Selling a Home is Business
Selling a home is an emotional experience because of the many memories that were made when the seller turned a structure into a home. The home represents so much more than the building materials used to erect it. However; the pleasant emotions contribute nothing to the home’s market value. In fact, emotion-based pricing quite often leads to a less than desirable outcome. Buyers do not see where the homeowner’s children grew up, the celebrations that took place, or the hardships that may have been overcome. Quite literally, buyers see a structure through fresh eyes and they have no emotional attachment. Their primary objective is to assess how well the structure will complement their lifestyle.
Sellers Become Desensitized
In order for homeowners to become comfortable with a list price, they have to pursue a difficult and objective perspective. Sellers must put themselves in the buyers shoes. What would the first impression be? The sentimental value the homeowner feels makes it difficult for them to objectively see imperfections. Sellers also become desensitized to them, or they place value where it doesn’t belong. This is quite natural and it is to be expected. Here are some examples: A seller can view Fido’s doggy door as a feature that adds value. If the buyer doesn’t have a dog they love as much as the seller loves Fido, this feature can be undesirable. It also conveys a cost to remove. Sellers may feel the floor covering throughout the home is just fine. A buyer prospect with fresh eyes will see the stained grout or claw-gouged hardwood floors that the homeowner never noticed!
Checking it Off The List
A buyer typically sees 15 homes before they submit an offer and their goal is to remove as many of the homes from the list as possible. When imperfections are noticed, buyers begin to look hard to find faults. They want to cross it off and move on to the next home on their list. Likewise, if the home trips all the positives bells in their mind, they begin to look for more positive features. Positive features makes them want to keep the home on their list. To support this theory I encourage you to think back to when you were looking to buy your last car. You most likely zeroed in on the features you wanted that were not there, or that were not in the best condition. “I WANT” is a big motivation when people spend money. This means that sellers need to be open-minded, listen with objectivity, and strategically price to keep the home high on the list for as many buyers as possible.
Expert Advice Pays Big
Understanding the pricing strategy and how imperfections can affect value will aid the seller in making critical decisions. The real estate agent should communicate what needs to be done in order to get the highest list price. It should also include what may be considered undesirable by buyers too. Taking the agent’s advice to fix the imperfections usually leads to a more timely and favorable outcome. Funky drapes may be overlooked by buyers. However; a large bleach stain in the carpet or bold and brightly painted rooms may send buyers running to the competition.
What is the competition? There are almost always several similar homes for sale at a given time. Houses are competing against each other to attract a buyer willing to submit an offer. It is much easier to fix imperfections before the house hits the market because there is no way to know what compromises a buyer may be willing to make when deciding if a home will meet their needs. Additionally, many improvements add to the successful marketability of a home. “Fresh paint” or “new hardwood floors” are an example of what attracts buyers. If a home requires a lot of painting a seller can bet many of the buyers will go to the competing homes that don’t need painting. It is better to see the flooring or paint mentioned in the marketing than to see negative comments in the feedback. The interior of the home should appeal to the vast majority of buyers. Would you buy a brown car with a bright purple interior? Colors that are not derived from a neutral color pallet are taste specific and attract a smaller pool of buyers. It is critical to remember there are other homes on the market. The goal is to be the first house on the buyers mind at all times. The seller feels their house is a home. The buyer feels the seller’s home is a house.
It is important for sellers to listen to what buyers have to say without feeling insulted. This is a business transaction and emotions make it difficult for one or both sides not to take things personally.
Sellers need to find out why potential buyers are not buying the home. Not every buyer will provide feedback after the showing and they have a right to preserve their confidentiality. It is common for buyers to pass a home up and return days or weeks later with enough interest to write an offer. Not providing a seller feedback helps keep a buyer’s negotiating position as strong as possible. “Loose lips sink ships” actually works on both sides of the transaction. When comments are provided sellers are encouraged to look for common themes. Are more than one buyer saying the same thing? What impression did the home leave on their minds? When sellers have the answer it is much easier to address the issues.
Sellers quite often feel that a buyer should simply address the condition through an adjustment in an offer to purchase. This rarely happens! Sellers should never assume what buyers will or should do. Attempting to be a mind reader, or make predictions or assumptions sets a disappointing course!
Buyers are fickle creatures and it stands to reason that when you bought a home, you were too! Buyers are spending a large sum of money for the house of their choice and this buying power justifies their expectations. Setting a list price that reflects what the home is worth should over-ride sentimental value. If you are thinking about selling, address imperfections before marketing begins. The pride of ownership should be evident so the return on your investment and effort pays off in a big way.
Finally, I had a seller once who was not willing to replace significantly damaged upstairs carpet at an estimated cost of $2,500. Three months later the seller agreed to lower the price $25,000! There are unfortunate circumstances that inhibit an owner’s ability in being able to make repairs or improvements. However; I like to share the “spend money to make more money” concept because sellers are able to net more in the sale of the home.
If you want me to help answer why my home won’t sell, please call 832.720.2850 for a no obligation consultation!