You made the investment and bought a house, but now it’s time to sell it. Whether you’re looking for a different atmosphere, moving for work, or accounting for any number of factors, selling your home can be one of the most complex deals you make. You might be facing steep competition from other homes for sale, or you might find yourself in a fickle real estate market. Whatever the case, you might find that it’s taking much longer than you expected to sell your home.
Though the market can fluctuate depending on location and the real estate industry at large, things are beginning to look up for people hoping to sell their home at a profit. Home sales were up 6% in the spring of 2016 compared to the year before, according to the National Association of Realtors, and home prices have increased for 50 straight months. For all intents and purposes, the industry is recovering from the housing crash that shook the nation leading up to the Great Recession.
However, each sale is unique, and it might be a challenge to sell your home. If you listed your house for sale months ago and haven’t gotten a single offer, you might be getting discouraged at this point. More importantly, you might want to purchase another property but need to sell your current house in order to do so. So, what are some factors that could be keeping you from closing a deal? Here are a few to consider.
1. The price is too high
You’re likely hoping to make a profit on the home you bought years ago. For one thing, you lovingly put years of time and effort into making it your own — and perhaps even made some improvements along the way. Unfortunately, the market doesn’t care if you need $50,000 over the correct asking price to break even on your mortgage or the repairs you made. If you’ve overpriced your home looking to recoup those losses, you might be waiting a long time before you get an offer.
“Without question, the No. 1 reason a home doesn’t sell is price,” Bill Golden, an independent, Atlanta-based Realtor who sells for ReMax, told U.S. News & World Report. “Sellers have an emotional attachment to their homes and tend not to [be] objective about the true value.”
Though there is such a thing as a “seller’s market,” when real estate prices favor the seller and supply is less than demand, the buyer still has one matter-of-fact point of control. If a home isn’t worth it to them, they’re not going to put down the money. “If there are no problems with the property or its location, it is the price,” Tracey Martin, a realtor, bluntly stated on Realtor.com. “Properties sell when they are priced correctly. The value of your home is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for it. If it is too high, you won’t get any offers.”
2. You don’t use a realtor, or don’t have the right one
Of course, Realtor.com is going to advocate for using a professional realtor to list your home and handle the finer points of price negotiation. Its input might be biased, but there’s truth behind it. “If you’ve tried your hardest to make your home presentable, and feel that you have marketed it to the best of your ability, the problem may not be you. It may be your real estate agent,” Local Agent Finder advises.
If you’re looking for a new realtor, or are just starting your search, it might be a good idea to take into account some of the common mistakes people make when looking for a real estate agent.
3. Your home is in disrepair
Chances are, your property doesn’t look quite as destitute as the one pictured above. But if you have overgrown landscaping, broken light fixtures, or a hole in your drywall, you might encounter several hesitant buyers. Fixer-upper shows are fun to watch on TV for entertainment, but chances are that won’t appeal to most people.
“Today’s buyers are busy,” Alix Prince, a vice president and broker at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty told U.S. News. “They are looking for properties where they can ‘unpack’ without doing a lot in renovations or decorating. Properties that are in need of TLC are at a disadvantage since two-income families would prefer to spend their weekend relaxing rather than redecorating.”
A fresh coat of paint will likely go a long way, though you might have to put some extra elbow grease into larger, obvious issues. Take a hard, objective look a what would make you second-guess your own home, and make your to-do list accordingly.
4. The house appears cluttered
Your collection of rare glassware and excess of furniture is precious to you, but to potential buyers it likely appears like clutter at best, and junk at worst. You might still be living in your home, but it’s wise to think about starting the packing process, Zillow real estate expert Brendon DeSimone told real estate site Bob Vila.
“Take all the stuff you won’t use for six months and put it in a storage locker — that’s the smartest $20 to $30 you can spend during this process,” DeSimone says.
You can also use this as an opportunity to remove decorations or items from your home that might not speak to everyone’s tastes. You might enjoy your collection of abstract art, but new buyers could have trouble envisioning themselves in your home when it still feels distinctly yours, U.S. News reports. “This is perhaps the most common problem of all,” Joshua Mogal, founder of eco+historical homes, told the publication. “Buyers rarely have the same tastes as sellers.”
5. Your home isn’t marketed well
Are you leaving the advertisements completely up to your realtor? If they create flyers and literature that’s professionally done, that might be fine. But if you think you could (or should) be doing more, you might want to reconsider the photos you’re using and the ways in which you’re marketing your home. Local Agent Finder suggests adding a video tour to your online listing, and making sure your photos look professional.
As part of that, it’s a smart idea to pay close attention to the staging of your property. The photos should showcase your home’s best angles, free from clutter and other attributes that might detract from the overall appearance. If you’re unsure about capturing this on your own, it might not be a bad idea to enlist a professional.
6. It’s a mess
Let’s face it: If you haven’t washed the windows in a while and your children haven’t seen you use a vacuum in weeks, it’s time to channel your inner housekeeper and break out the Hoover — and the duster, too. “It’s important to treat your house as a product. It will not sell itself, so you need to spend a little bit of time and effort to make it more appealing,” Local Agent Finder reminds potential sellers. The publication suggests attending other open houses in your neighborhood, to make sure you’re on the right track with the condition of your home.
If you can’t seem to find time to wash the baseboards and scrub your bathroom until it sparkles, it might be worth it to call the pros. In fact, Gary Rogers, regional vice president of theNational Association of Realtors, told Bob Vila he recommends it.
7. You’re actually not ready to sell
When it comes to selling your home, you might be the biggest obstacle you have. It’s easy to develop a sentimental attachment to your home, and you might not realize it until you’re having difficulty signing over the deed to new owners. When it comes down to it, that sentiment can be the worst form of self-sabotage possible, DeSimone told Bob Vila. “You could set the price too high, ignore recommendations from your agent, or miss spots in cleaning the house,” he explained.
If you think this is you, it might be time to re-evaluate your reasons for selling. If they’re still solid, it’s time to break the familiar ties and focus on finding your new favorite home.