A common question and the answer isn’t necessarily black and white. Selling real estate is dependent on so many things and no matter what any real estate agent will tell, you there is no magic sauce. You should never fall into the trap of believing because an agent does something that another does not, magically your home will sell, it just isn’t true. You don’t need a Genie nor do you need to be a genius. The rules for successful sales are simple.
So why didn’t your home sell? Because you ignored the rules.
The Top 5 Rules To Sell Your Home
1. Location. There isn’t anything you can do to change the location, and after all if you bought the house it stands to reason someone else will. However depending on the current real estate market in your area at the time you want to sell, your sale time may be longer or shorter. Some of the location aspects that can deter a sale are:
- Close proximity to a busy road.
- Close to commercial buildings.
- Overhead power lines.
- Right zip code, wrong schools.
- Right schools, wrong zip code.
Just make sure that your home is priced correctly no matter what the location issues might be. An experienced Realtor should be candid about your expected sale price and be able to prove how they arrived at the number they are showing you. **(More on pricing below).
2. Condition. I ask my future home sellers to grade their property choosing one of these.
- Upgraded perfection.
- Pretty darn good.
- About average.
- Needs some upgrading or decorating.
- Needs investment.
- Regretfully awful.
On average most home sellers grade their property about one higher than I do. I do this so I get to understand a home sellers perception and also because it helps me research and anticipate a valuation range based on recent similar home sales.
The question sellers need to ask of themselves is should you carry out any repairs or upgrades; or do you want to and what will the result be based on your answer. It’s extremely rare to recoup 100% of any investment you make into real estate and usually none of us do it for that reason. We improve our homes so we have enjoyment from the improvements. An experienced Realtor should discuss with you any suggested improvements or changes when you list your home with them. We don’t expect you to do everything we suggest. As long as you know what the results will be for either scenario, then you are making an educated decision.
If I have one piece of advice for any of these changes, do NOT test the market first if you are thinking of doing some of them, do them before you put the house on the market. In the end it is a better strategy and will pay off. Those that you cannot afford to do, don’t do them. Just price accordingly.
Condition can also include the simplest of changes a home seller can make and that’s the contents. Many homes are over furnished and have personal items everywhere. It’s how we live and we are all different. De-cluttering and reducing furnishings is simple and free, you just need a little muscle power and the willingness to find a home for these items during the selling process. It can make a huge difference.
Tip: Do you want to take the dining room chandelier with you? Remove and replace it before you list it for sale. If you love it so might a buyer. If you now tell them it’s not staying guess what they do? Cha ching. They mentally deduct it from a potential offer price. It’s because they have seen it! If they never see it, they never have that gut reaction. Just go and buy something suitable and hang in it’s place. Believe me it won’t cost as much as your buyers deduction!
3. Pricing. We’ve just talked a little about pricing as it relates to a property condition, now let’s look at the sales and current competition. To establish your price we need to find comparable sales. Where there are large neighborhoods and cookie cutter style homes it isn’t hard to find similar sales. In reality it’s harder than that. Again an experienced Realtor can crunch numbers very well. Here in the Barrington and Inverness areas we don’t have cookie cutter homes at all. Our neighborhoods do not have sales very often because they are small.
We often see homes priced wrong and I mean really wrong. I have to assume either your Realtor stroked your ego by telling you the home will sell for much more or they agreed to your pricing because you wanted to test the waters, so to speak. Then as time passes you won’t agree to a price cut even though you get few if any showings and quite rightly you’ll point the finger at your Realtor. Wow what an awful way for a business relationship to go. **More about selecting the wrong agent later.
When looking at the real estate market to find similar home sales you as the seller want to see the math. How did the Realtor arrive at the price they recommend? Were you educated and did you have sufficient information to make an informed decision? As experienced Realtors we do considerable analyses on the homes we list to make sure we sell your property. That’s the goal right, to sell! Not to list. If any Realtor comes to meet with you and preaches, it’s not a good sign. You need explanations and proof. Ask to see the sales your Realtor is comparing your home to and look for these similarities:
- Location, first. Neighborhood is the starting point, village next and zip after. If at all possible the sales should be within a 1 mile radius, 5 for rural areas.
- Same school district can be critical, depends on where you are.
- Size should be a 20% difference at most, lot size too.
- I doubt a similar model would be available but that is a premium sale to use.
- Similar room count, bedroom and bathroom count, and garage spaces too.
- Age within 10 years either up or down.
- Must be sold within last 6 months and as the market rises pull it in to 3 months.
Check the MLS sheets for the sales and see if they match to these basic rules. If they don’t then they are not comparable, at all!
After the basics are set a good Realtor will look at other differences and be able to adjust accordingly. Going back to your homes condition, you cannot expect to achieve top dollar if your home needs a lot of work.
4. The Market. In the last 10 years most owners know the market did a belly flop. Add to that how the economy tanked and you would need to be under a rock to not know your valuation plummeted. We don’t expect you to know what your value is at all times but in general you need to understand the market in your area. Across the USA some markets are rebounding extremely fast and are back in a sellers market with a shortage of homes available for the quantity of buyers looking. The real estate prices therefore go up. Other areas are off the bottom but increasing at a slower pace.
An experienced real estate agent should know your market. If they don’t then don’t choose them. Why not? If they don’t care enough about knowing their own business why should they care at all about yours? Whoever you choose must know your market and be able to advise you what’s happening. You then list your home accordingly. If not, the sale may fail.
For luxury home markets this is critical. A sellers market in your town may not be the same at your price point. Luxury home sales are the last to rebound.
To the right is an example of sales in 2014 compared to 2013 in one of my markets. Red sales in 2014 are soaring compared to blue for 2013. If the market is strong like this in your community there must be another reason your home is not selling.
Did you pick the wrong agent? How do you tell? I suggest going back through the first four points and consider if you got all the information I have suggested. If you feel the process was not followed then likely it has contributed to the reason your home has not sold. Also ask your self:
- Did we get many showings?
- Did we get any feedback, good bad or ugly?
- Was the feedback legitimate?
- Did anyone take any action on feedback?
- Did our agent contact us during the listing period, how often and what did we discuss?
- What marketing did our agent do? Do I know? Do I understand what it was and how it helped?
Accuracy, Presentation and Marketing.
Now you have reviewed points 1 through 5 you may have some clues as to why your property did not sell. Interestingly if you were to dig a little farther I am sure you’ll find some more things not done well. They may not have been the primary reason your home did not sell but they may have contributed. Consider these smaller but important points.
- Buyers could not view your property?
- Incomplete MLS information.
- Inaccurate MLS information.
- Poor quality photos or just a single photo.
- No syndication. What is that?
- Marketing limited to MLS.
We see poor details and photos all the time and scratch our heads wondering how you connected with someone who seems to care so little about selling your home. As experienced Realtors we make sure none of these occur. Our job is to sell your property and from the basics to the details we care about the job you have entrusted to us.
Why Didn’t My House Sell? Is It Time To Select a New Realtor?
Only you can decide if it’s time to hire some-one new but before you do, take a look at your existing contract to see what the terms are, you may be locked in for a while to come. If you are still on the market, time for a frank discussion with your current agent. If your agreement has ended use this post as a guideline for selecting the next Realtor. If you are in Barrington Illinois, we would love to chat with you to identify and correct the season your home didn’t sell.