Let’s say your neighbor’s house sold in about 15 minutes for way over the asking price. His house had a bit of a view and yours has none. But your house seems fairly priced, the inventory is low and yet your home is unsold. Why isn’t your home selling when others are?
If you’re selling in what you hear is a sizzling market, it’s easy to lull yourself into false expectations. Are all home sellers in your area really selling their homes in a flash? Probably not.
It’s hard to decipher what’s really going on. Real estate is a hot topic of conversation. Neighborhood gossip is prone to exaggeration. Two offers can turn into five as news of a new sale travels through the rumor mill.
HOME SELLER TIP: To find out what really is going on requires a fact-finding foray that’s best done with the help of your listing agent. Ask your agent to provide you with a list of all the homes in your price range that were listed around the time your home went on the market, and all those that have come on the market since then.
How many of these listings are pending or sold? How long did they take to sell? This data is easily retrievable from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Then find out if the pending and sold listings received multiple offers, or only one? This information isn’t readily available from the MLS, so your agent will have to ask other listing agents for the information.
The next step is to compare the list price and amenities of your home with the listings that sold. If you see a big discrepancy between your price and your competitor’s prices, and you’re on the high side, the answer to why you’re home isn’t selling is simple. Your asking price is too high for the market.
This fact may be hard to accept, particularly if you thought you’d priced your house right for the market to begin with. However, the market is dynamic, not static. As market factors change, so will the value of your home.
Increased inventory, which we’re starting to see in some markets, can account for a slow down in the time it takes for listings to sell. If you selected a list price based on comparable sales from a few months ago, when there was a shortage of homes for sale relative to buyer demand, those sale prices may be higher than you can expect given current market conditions.
Also make sure that you use sales data that is truly comparable. For example, in Oakland, Calif., listings in the Rockridge neighborhood tend to sell for higher prices than similar-sized listings in the Montclair neighborhood. Sales in these two areas aren’t comparable when it comes to price.
After analyzing the factual data, you may find that your price isn’t out of line for the market. In this case, you should re-evaluate your marketing plan to make sure that it provides full exposure to the market. It you find that your agent isn’t making your listing a priority let her know what you expect.
Also, ask your agent to talk with the buyer’s agents who have shown your home. This will give you valuable feedback regarding why their buyers turned your home down. It may be because of a fixable condition that you can do something about, like a garish paint color or pet odor.
THE CLOSING: If the common theme is that there’s something about your home that buyers can’t live with, like traffic noise or no yard, you should seriously consider reducing your list price. Everything sells at the right price.
Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.
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