Selling a Home? 6 Reasons Why Homes Don't Sell, and What to Do About it

Selling your home. Why it might not be selling
Image Source: BigStock

Driving around town, or perhaps even around your own neighborhood, you may have noticed those "For Sale" signs in front-yards and porches of many homes.

Many of them seem like old familiar landmarks, having been there many months at a stretch.

You may wonder "But, isn't the housing 'bubble' done with? So why are these homes not selling? Or maybe your home has been on the market for a long period of time and is not getting sold.

What makes a home "sticky" (not selling)?

Yes, the housing market in most of the U.S. is seeing green shoots of recovery. But quiet often the problem isn't with any 'bubbles' – either real or perceived. 

Here are 6 reasons why you don't see those "For Sale" signs come off quicker, or why you haven't been able to sell your home.

Stating the obvious: The state of a home is paramount to how well it is received by agents and prospective buyers. As a resident of the property, one is often oblivious to upkeep. But having a friend or colleague with a keen sense of decorum take a fresh look at the home can reveal much. Often, the listing agent will do a walk-through and provide listers with a "To Do" list that makes a great starting point to fixing the place up.

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Curb appeal: While the inside of a home may be impeccable, prospective buyers are also very conscious about how appealing it looks from the outside. A fresh coat of paint. A few strategically placed outdoor plants. A properly trimmed hedge. A well mowed lawn. All of these simple steps can quickly turn an eye-sore into a sight for sore eyes!

Sticker shock: Some homes just won't sell because they are priced too high. Remember that people coming through to view your house aren't just looking at one home. They are likely also visiting others – perhaps some of those are right in the same neighborhood.

Even though a listing agent may have advised sellers (with an ulterior motive, no doubt!) to price higher, it is in your interest to do some research to ensure the price is right.

If you are inflexible in your asking price, chances are the "For Sale" sign will be around for a lot longer than you like.

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Secret of agents: Some homes just don't seem to move, despite the fact that others in the neighborhood or even in the same block get snapped up pretty quickly. The secret might be in the agent of listing.

While some agents are very diligent in ensuring that their listed properties move fast, others are more worried about their own commissions. So, even if there is an opportunity to sell for a few hundred or a thousand dollars less, they might advise against doing so. Still others might be over-committed with other listings, or just plain "irresponsible" in doing their jobs.

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There are other secrets about agents that are less known to home sellers. Some agents might not encourage or solicit other agents in order to get a home sold quickly.

Why? Because if another agent sold it, they (the listing agent) will have to split their commission with the selling agent. Homeowners need to ensure all of these issues are put squarely on the table before listing with an agent. 

Showing off: Quite often, despite the home being competitively priced, it just doesn't seem to grab the attention of all those that have seen it. Home sellers should use a bit of buyer psychology and stage the home in a way that it appears completely devoid of the current owners personalities.

If the listing agent doesn't offer tips to do this, homeowners should hire staging professionals to make that happen. Get rid of those dark curtains. Hide all those pictures of the kids and grand kids. Make the home easy for potential buyers to picture themselves living there.

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Timing to perfection: Timing is everything when it comes to a quick sale. But sometimes no amount of precision tactics can make a home "un-stick".  The general state of the economy; adverse developments in the neighborhood (school closures, relocation of big businesses from the proximity; large – unwanted! – industrial development plans for the area); or other unexpected turns of events might throw a wrench into the perfect timing. So what might one do to move the home?

Usually, rethinking the listing price might be the perfect fix. Buyers often do a cost-benefit analysis between, say, buying a home for $15,000 less versus having to drive the kids 2 blocks further to school. Often the 15K wins!

Making the sale

In summary, there are some elements around a home sale that you can't change:

  • Basic architecture and design
  • Location
  • Prevailing economic conditions

However, in almost every case you can take some steps that will mitigate those challenges and attract buyers. By following the advice above homeowners could get more prospects looking at their properties, and hopefully move from "For Sale" to "Sold" in less time than they think!