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Why Can’t My REALTOR® Sell My House?

Cartoon monster asking Why Can't My Realtor Sell My House
Cartoon monster asking Why Can't My Realtor Sell My House

Why can't my realtor sell my house?

My realtor can’t sell my house!  What’s wrong?

As an experienced REALTOR® in San Antonio, I hear this a lot from home owners.   And, many sellers struggle with this if there home has been on the market for just one week!  With the crazy seller’s market we are in, the sellers have expectations that their house will sell the first day. If that doesn’t happen, the wheels start turning in the seller’s mind and this thought begins to run through their head.  Often times, the first thing that comes their mind is that it is their agent’s fault.  I specialize in homes for sale in Alamo Heights, and can tell you …. there is no easy answer.

The hard truth is, oftentimes, it isn’t directly the agent’s fault.  Most of the time it is due to the small decisions that the homeowners make when the put their house on the market, or the location of the home.  The agent does bear some responsibility if they haven’t shared with you the things you will need to do to sell your house quickly.

Also, do you want to sell your house quickly…. or, do you want your price?  These scenarios would have your agent marketing the property differently.  Most sellers want to sell quickly for the highest price possible.

If your house isn’t selling, hasn’t had many showings, hasn’t received an offer, then rethink your position and be positive about the possibilities.  It is in your best interest to think through some of the potential reasons that it might not be selling.  Part of the resolution of a problem is recognizing that there might be a problem.  There might actually be many reasons why your home has not sold.

Here are some of the top reasons that homes don’t sell and a solution for each on how to remedy the situation.  Of course, all things being equal must be taken into account.

1.  Your house is a little tired looking

Buyers expect every home they see to look like the homes they like on HGTV.  SIGH.  If your home does not look that appealing, the home will be on the market longer, because the flipper down the street knows that the Buyers are looking for that type of home.  Buyers know how to shop, and they want the most house for their money.  If there is a fresh, newly updated/remodeled house down the street, which is priced exactly the same as yours, you can bet that the Buyers will be flocking to the one which is the most appealing.

Solution:  Your house should be comparable to the other houses on the market in the same area.  You might need to upgrade the hardware in the house, update some of the lighting, and please, please, please …. have the popcorn texture removed from the ceilings.  Yep, you are going to have spend money to spruce and spiff up the tired house.  For most Sellers, they struggle with the thought of spending the money on items they won’t enjoy.  However, if you are looking to get full price offers on your house and a quick sale, you will need to get it to a condition which buyers want.  Buyer generally don’t buy based upon a price per square foot.  They fall in love with the home which is updated and in pristine condition.

If the home is tired looking and you aren’t in a position to update it, or don’t want to do the work, then a reduction in price should remedy the situation.  All things being equal, an out of date house should be priced at 5% to 20% below the other homes in your area.

2.  The house smells bad

There’s a saying in real estate: “If I can smell it, I can’t sell it”.  If you’re immune to the smell of your home, get a friend’s honest opinion.  There is nothing like entering a house and smelling a refreshing scent.  There are even commercials about “Stank Face”, which is the term for the curl of the lip and the scrunched up nose when a person encounters a foul smell.

If you have pets, if you are a smoker, if you cook odiforious foods, then the odor may the reason your home isn’t selling.

Solution: Sometimes the remedy is simple like freshly baked cookies or using essential oils in a diffuser. But if your house’s odor is persistent, it’s a good idea to determine what’s causing it and address it.  Take care of mold and mildew buildup, pet urine on the carpet, or set-in smoke odor.

3.  The appliances are old

Stainless steel is still in, and old, yellowing-white refrigerators are out.  Although potential buyers realize they can replace a refrigerator, if your appliances look as if they belong in their parents home, buyers might wonder what else might need replacing.  You won’t get a pass on the HVAC system, either.  Although the buyer doesn’t generally notice, the system will be inspected by the buyer’s inspector.

Solution:  Update your appliances if at all possible.  Ask your agent what buyers are looking for in a home such as yours.  They will generally know as they work with buyers and hear what buyers are looking for.  If your HVAC has a problem, you’re going to have to pay to fix it, or at least come down in your asking price.

4.  Horrible photographs

The first seven seconds is the time your photographs have to make an first impression.  Over 90% of buyers start their home search online and they will make a decision to include or exclude your home based upon a very quick skimming of the listing photographs.  The more photos the better; professional photography is best; an uncluttered home …. all are more appealing even if the house is the exact same floor plan as the house 2 streets over.  Buyers quickly move on if you don’t grab their attention with good photographs.  There are plenty of homes with good photos for them to look at.

Solution:  Be open to the idea of having your house staged and photographs by professionals.  Yes, we know your sister, who loves purple with pink stripes, wallpaper and popcorn ceilings, has good taste.  However, unless she is a realtor, she may not be aware that professional real estate photographs have the ability to generate over 118% more internet views and sell listings at the amaze rate of 50% faster, and at 39% closer to list price.  The numbers speak for themselves…. it is money well spent.

5. The house is priced incorrectly

Currently our San Antonio market is a Seller’s market…. but not for every price point.  Economic supply and demand conditions come into play in a seller’s market: There’s high demand, yet low supply/inventory.  Technically, a seller can expect to get more money for their house during a high demand/low inventory cycle.  However, the are limits as to how high you can list your home.  One of the most important duties of a realtor is the proper pricing of the home.  If your home is listed at a price that is too low, Buyers will conclude that there is a problem with the home.  On the other end of the spectrum are those houses which are priced above market value which generally cause the home to sit on the market longer.  

Did YOU price the home at a high price?  Did YOU insist that that your realtor put it on the market for that price?  If so, I am sure you already know now, that it is priced too high.  Consult with your realtor for a “price improvement” (real estate lingo for lowering the price of the home).

Solution:  Revisit your pricing with your agent to determine if the price of your home needs to be adjusted.  It is critical that you price it correctly.  The agent may need to do another analysis to update their files on what has sold in the last 2 months.  Maybe the fresh data from the comps will reveal that the market trend has shifted downward (real estate lingo for falling prices).

6. It just might be your agent

If you have none of the other issues going on in this post and there’s nothing wrong with your house at all:  then, then it just might be your agent.  Like every profession, real estate has 5% to 10% of agents who may not be competent and just don’t care.  It is not reflective of the entire industry, and  with a little research, you will be able to easily find another one.

There are all sorts of things which go on behind the scenes which are controlled by the agent:  did they input the listing into the MLS correctly, is it located on the MLS map correctly, do they have the correct phone number listed for the buyer’s agent to call to set up an appointment, etc?  It might be that they have done a poor job in getting the information out to the public (marketing).  Yet, it might even be that your agent could be turning people off.  Your agent is your front-line representative.  Maybe they have a bad reputation within the real estate community and are difficult to work with, don’t return phone calls, think they are king of the universe, they are the #1 agent in town and can’t be bothered, are known as a bully, etc.  Some realtors won’t show homes to buyers where they know the agent to be the problem because it can reflect badly upon them as well as result in a bad/bumpy transaction.  It shouldn’t be this way, but the truth is…. it happens every day.

Solution:  Is your agent nice?  Would you invite them to a dinner party?  If YOU don’t find them to be interesting and pleasurable to work with, who will?  You might consider breaking up with your current agent and then do your homework to identify a great agent who might be easier to work with.  Also, be skeptical of the reviews posted online.  There are companies which specialize in writing false reviews for agents.  Instead, consider talking with your friends, family and colleagues to identify a good agent.  Identify a good one and then interview the heck out them.  It is in your best interest to hire an experienced agent for your type of home.  If you have a relative who is an agent in another city, call them and let them do some of this research for you.  They will be happy to assist you.

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Here are a few more reasons:  Unusual and/or unique; luxury; and other factors

1.  Unusual or unique home:  If you have a unique home, it will take longer to sell.   We have a saying:  “unique it, and you keep it”.

Modern kitchen with chartreuse cabinetry

Unique kitchen which may limit the number of buyers for this home.

For instance in San Antonio, the Buyers prefer traditional homes with open floor plans.  This San Antonio preference means that a mid-80’s homes with contemporary angles will take longer to sell as there are fewer buyers who are looking for this type of home.

2.  Luxury home:  If you have a luxury home, it is usually a Buyer’s Market.  Less than 1% to 2% of the market can afford a luxury home.  This means that it can take quite a bit longer to sell a luxury home than a non-luxury home.  If you have a custom luxury home which has unique features, then it will take even longer.  I take a different stance than most realtors.  A price adjustment isn’t always the remedy in order to sell the home.  Often times, these homes just need to be on the market long enough for the right buyer to come along.  It is always about timing.  Unfortunately, some luxury buyers will hire a buyer’s agent who isn’t a luxury agent.  That inexperienced agent won’t know how the listing agent was able to price the home.  For instance, 2 similar homes with a similar floor plan, except House A (Mercedes car) has double studded walls, chandeliers which costs over $50,000 each along with upgrades throughout is NOT comparable to House B (Hyndai car) which was built by a spec builder with single studded walls, $200 chandeliers and inexpensive builder grade materials.  That sort of agent who would think they “look sort of the same” is the luxury home sellers and luxury listing agents worst enemy.  And, they aren’t servicing their buyer in an informed manner.  The higher the price point in luxury homes, the lower the number of buyers who can afford the home.  For instance, there is a $18,000,000 home listed in San Antonio.  There may be 10 to 20 people in San Antonio who can afford that home.  If that 10 to 20 people are not yet in the market to buy a different home, then that home will not sell….. not because it isn’t desirable or there is something wrong…. simply the timing isn’t right.  Should they reduce the price to $8,000,000, $ 4,000,000?  Of course not, unless they are desperate to sell, or the seller just wants to be done.  A famous example of this is the The Manor house  built by Aaron Spelling in Los Angeles.  It sold for $85 million after it had been on the market for two years with an asking price of $150 million.

3.  Oddball scenarios:  Location within a subdivision and other factors also come into play.  If you have some of the following conditions, the property is considered by many to be less desirable than the others within the subdivision, and should have been priced 10% below what other comparable homes in your area:

  • electrical power towers running in the green belt behind your property
  • an apartment complex or a commercial shopping center is behind your property
  • a major street is directly behind your property
  • a bus stop is within 3 house of your property
  • a drainage ditch next to the property (side or back)
  • your next door neighbor has not kept up with their yard work AND their house is painted purple
  • your next door neighbor has barking dogs who run the backyard fence.

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I feel your pain.  My personal home is for sale; it is a luxury home AND it is unique!   Needless to say, I am nearly insane, too!  Patience, Grasshopper, patience.

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Keep up your positive thinking!  Your house WILL sell.  Get ready to move!

 

 

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