You listed your house at the price that your Realtor suggested. You have staged the house and it looks like a showcase. There have been no offers and only one or two showings. What could the problem be?
Usually, when a house doesn’t sell, it’s due to one of five things: price, accessibility, condition, location, and/or marketing.
1. Price (or is it price range?) rules all
In most cases, the reason a property doesn’t sell is the price. In today’s market, however, you can be priced perfectly, but if you’re in the wrong price range your property won’t sell. In other words, your property can be in perfect condition and in perfect alignment with the comparable sales and it can still sit on the market for months. The reason? The credit crunch.
The first-time-buyer market has been flourishing, largely due to the first-time-buyer tax credit of $8,000. Homes that require financing over and above the "conforming loan limits," however, are languishing on the market. A conforming loan meets the guidelines to be purchased and securitized by either the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac).
Both of these government-sponsored entities (GSEs) are in conservatorship and may require a taxpayer bailout. The magnitude of this issue is huge. According to Wikipedia, Fannie and Freddie currently own or have guaranteed about 50 percent of the U.S. $12 trillion mortgage market.
Conforming loan guidelines include a maximum loan amount determined by geographical region as well as the requirements to meet certain downpayment, credit and debt-to-income requirements. Go online to view the loan limits in your area for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
In most areas, the maximum amount that you can obtain for a conforming loan is $417,000. In certain expensive areas, the maximum loan amount that a borrower can obtain is $729,750 (through the end of the year, unless these upper limits are extended). These numbers are higher for Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Thus, if your property is priced more than $450,000, the reason it may not be selling is that buyers are unable to obtain financing to buy it. A second reason is that if your home is a "move-up" property rather than a first-time-buyer property, your potential buyers may be unable to sell their existing properties in order to buy your property.
There can be a wide variety of reasons for this, the most notable of which is their properties are worth less than they paid for them. In many cases, their properties may fall into the "short sale" category where they owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth. When a substantial number of sellers in a given area have no equity in their current properties, the move-up market will be dead. …CONTINUED
If your property is too expensive to fit into the conforming loan category and you have a considerable amount of equity in your home, some sellers have been able to sell by carrying some or all of the buyer’s financing. In fact, 35 percent of the properties in the U.S. are free and clear.
This can be an excellent way to bridge the gap between a conforming loan and what you need to close the transaction. If you need the cash, there are investors who will purchase your loan at a discount. The longer the loan is in place (i.e., "seasoned"), the better the price you can obtain.
Is your house easily accessible? Do you have a keysafe or lockbox that allows agents to show the property easily? Do you have animals inside the property that could keep people from showing it? Do everything in your power to make showing your house as easy as possible.
Does your house show like a model or is it a mess? How does the house look from the street? Is the landscaping attractive? Is the exterior well maintained? Is the house cluttered with your personal belongings or have you cleared out as much as possible? As my listing agent said when we listed our house, "It’s not your house anymore." Your goal is to help the buyer imagine that your house is their future home.
The old cliché says real estate comes down to three things: "location, location, location." Obviously, there’s not much you can do about where the property is located. The only option is to make sure the price is adjusted accordingly.
Does your agent have a written marketing plan? Did he or she have a video tour made of your property? Is your listing being marketed on at least 30 major listing portals and 15 major video portals? Did your agent provide you with a single-property Web site that uses your property address (123MainStreetYourTown.com)?
Is your property on Realtor.com, your local multiple listing service, plus Craigslist, Cyberhomes, Trulia and Zillow? If not, make sure your agent takes immediate steps to market your listings at some of the most-visited online real estate sites. If your agent has no idea how to do this, when your listing expires search for someone who does.
If you are having trouble selling your home, carefully evaluate where you stand on each of these issues. If there’s an area that needs improvement, don’t wait. Address these issues today to get your property sold tomorrow.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.
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