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My Listing Expired . . . & My House Didn't Sell . . . Now What?

Did your listing expire without selling? If you're serious about selling, then you're probably pretty frustrated by now. It's time to take a fresh approach.

Let's take a look at the most common reasons a house doesn't sell within the initial listing period as well as actions you can take to affect the outcome. 

1. Perhaps your house didn't sell because It is not priced properly for the current market. Pricing your home at or near the actual market value is the best strategy for getting your home sold at the best price within the established time frame. The actual market value is determined by comparing your home to similar homes that are currently on the market (your competition), and similar homes that sold recently (usually within the past 6 months). Adjustments are made for condition, location, and features among the comparable sold homes. This is an oversimplification of the process of determining the market value and the best listing price, but these are the most important determining factors. For a more detailed look at how a professional prices your property, see our Pricing Your Property Right page.

2. Is your house in need of updating? Perhaps you still have that 1950's kitchen and bath, and your flooring, walls and decor look like "your grandmother's house". If that is the case, then you have to price your home accordingly. Buyers see dollar signs when they walk through your house. They are adding up kitchen and bath remodels, flooring, paint, lighting fixtures, etc. Even if you believe your price is low, the cost to bring it up to today's standards may be pricing you out of the market.

What can you do about the situation, short of an expensive remodel? You can take stock of each room in your house and note the inexpensive things that can be done to make it more appealing. New light fixtures and a fresh coat of paint on the walls using appealing neutrals will do wonders. Color is important, and you want to paint in colors that buyers will love. Our advice is to use colors in Sherwin-Williams HGTV Neutral Nuance collection or the white, gray & tan hues in the Traditional Twist collection. If you have old draperies, replace them with blinds or shutters to let in more light and modernize the space.

If you have hardwood floors under the carpeting that are in good shape (and your carpeting is not new), you should remove it to expose the hardwood floors. Buyers love hardwood floors, even if they are not perfect. If your kitchen and bath cabinets are looking bad, painting them can be a great option. We've seen really remarkable results with cabinet painting, as long as the cabinets themselves are in good repair. Visit HGTV's website to get some great ideas of how you can transform your kitchen cabinets with little cost: http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/kitchen-remodel/painting-kitchen-cabinets

3. Perhaps you have been ignoring obvious repairs that need done. When faucets are dripping, windows are cracked, and the woodwork has been chewed by the dog, buyers get the impression that you don't care about your house, and that there are probably lots of other issues . . . big ones like a leaky roof or failing furnace and A/C. Water stains on the ceiling, peeling interior paint, or water stains around windows or doors should be repaired, even if the underlying reason for the issue has been taken care of. Any signs of water damage can be a huge turn-off to potential buyers and can keep a home on the market for a very long time. Buyers want to buy a home from a seller who has taken good care of it and cares about how it looks,

What to do? Fix all the items that are in need of repair. Buyers will always think it costs more than it actually does to make repairs. Of course, it helps if you can do most of the little things yourself, but if you can't, find a handyman that can make quick work of a laundry list of minor repairs.

You may think your house is a fixer-upper, and that you're likely to attract some handy do-it-yourselfers. But the reality is that most buyers don't have the imagination to visualize the space spruced up. Not only that, but today's buyers are often two-income families that are busy with their work and/or children. They are looking for properties where they can move in without doing a lot of renovations or decorating. They prefer to spend their weekends relaxing and spending time with their friends and family rather than working on the house.

If your house is a fixer-upper, then it needs to be priced right so that an investor/house flipper can fix it up, sell it, and make money.

4. Have you missed a lot of showings because of your inflexibility?  You should try to make your house as accessible and available as possible for real estate agents and their buyers to view your home. If your house isn't getting shown, then it is not going to get sold.

How can you be more flexible? Allow your agent to install an electronic lockbox on your door so that authorized agents can access your key and show your house. Make sure you respond quickly to messages to set showing appointments. You don't want to miss any showings, so the sooner you confirm the appointment the better. Some buyer agents are working on very short timeframes, and they may eliminate your house from their showing schedule if they don't get a confirmation quickly.

If you are overly paranoid about the lockbox, then hire an agent that is available and will agree to be present at all showings, and entrust your agent with your keys. If you have pets that need removed from the house prior to a showing, then you will need to work something out with your family, friends, neighbors, or your agent, to ensure pets can be removed and cared for at flexible times around showing appointments. Again . . . this is important . . . if buyers can't see your home within their available time-frame, then they can't buy it. Will you be inconvenienced . . . yes . . . nobody said selling your house was a picnic.

6. A common problem is that the photos of your home on the internet are not appealing. Did you know that almost all potential buyers view homes on the internet first, and quickly eliminate homes from their viewing list that don't look good. A picture really is worth a thousand words, and photos that make your home look special are priceless. If your interior photos make your rooms look small, dark and dingy, buyers may quickly cross you off their list. If a photo doesn't help sell your home, then it shouldn't be published.

Easy fix? Hire a professional photographer to take appealing photos of your home, inside and out. There are photographers in most areas that have packages available for listings that are reasonably priced.  Or, have your agent take new photos, or if you are a pretty good photographer and have a wide-angle lens in your camera, then you should take some photos yourself and provide them to your agent to put online. You want to make your home look bright and welcoming. The exterior photos should be taken during the time of day when the lighting is best for that side of the house, and the photos should be taken at an angle that makes the home look interesting. Interior photos should also be taken when there is plenty of light. Use a wide-angle lens and hold the camera higher up in one corner of the room to get the majority of the room in the picture and make the room look larger. We often will stand on a stool for the interior shots to get the height. Also take closeup shots of the interesting selling features, like a beautiful fireplace, cool farmhouse sink, or other features that you love about your house . . . inside and out.

7. Perhaps your house is cluttered, not clean, and/or has bad smells. Buyers buy clean houses, and they will pay more for the same house when it is clean, uncluttered, and smells fresh. This is basic 'house selling 101'. Your home must be clean and uncluttered.

What to do? The first thing is to get rid of the clutter and depersonalize. Pack away everything you won't need until you move to your new location, like out-of-season clothing, knick-knacks, and also family photos and excess wall hangings that don't add anything to the room. Closets should be half full to make them look more spacious. If your rooms are loaded with excess furniture, put it in storage and keep only the necessary items to create seating groups and ensembles in each room. This makes each room look bigger and makes it easier for buyers to picture themselves living in your home.

Once all the unnecessary items are removed, then clean and polish everything . . . the cleaner the better. Eliminate undesirable odors by cleaning with disinfectants, and have your carpeting and upholstered furniture professionally cleaned. To keep your home smelling fresh use air fresheners like plug-ins that continually keep your home odor free.

8. Perhaps your house is in an undesirable location. Well, unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do about the fact that your house is located in a deteriorating neighborhood or on a busy street, or that there are power lines running adjacent to your back yard. Hopefully you purchased your home for a good price . . . and now you will need to price your home accordingly so that a new buyer will be compensated for overlooking it's shortcomings. In the case of an issue that can't be changed, the only tool you have is price. You will need to adjust the price until you find a buyer.

These aren't all the reasons houses don't sell. Paying attention to the feedback from showing agents and their buyer customers is usually a big help. Showing agents will generally share their comments, good and bad, with your agent.

If you get the sense that your agent never has time for you or your home has been on the market forever, it may be time to work with someone else. It's important to hire a local expert. A knowledgeable and experienced agent will have good marketing skills, will communicate effectively with all parties, and will have a solid marketing plan to get your home sold,

As always, if you need help or advice, please don't hesitate to contact us. Selling homes is what we do.