Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Why hasn't my house sold?

Home sellers are very concerned when their home has been on the market for some time. The offers presented, if any, have been too low to even consider. The home hasn't sold. Quite naturally they want to know "what's wrong?".

That is a fair question. The newspapers say the home market is active again. Some homes in the area have sold. Now sellers are asking questions like "interest rates are down, aren't they?", "why haven't I had a serious offer?","Should I take my house off the market?", "should I change Realtors?

First of all, slow down. Don't panic. Tak a rational look at the market and make the most of it. Smart home sellers are moving their homes...and right now, today. But they recognize the market today is different from last year.

Second, the smart home seller comes to the obvious conclusion with cautious buyers looking at more homes you have to be competative, flexible, agressive, and do a better job of merchandising to generate offers. Your home can also sell, and quickly.

Third, sit down with your real estate professional and rethink your marketing plan. There are a number of actions to consider to beat out your competition.

Price. Reviewing your asking price is most dificult, painful and personal part of answering the question, "Why aren't we getting any action?". This is typically the single most critical element in your new marketing plan. Get "fresh" comparable sales in your area. Forget the asking prices of the homes that aren't selling. Your home must be priced to meet today's market or all the other elements of your new plan won't make much difference.

Terms. How flexible are you really prepared to be? How big a second can you take? Can you offer a fast escrow?

Merchandising. Are you offering a home warranty. A home warranty covers many of the important systems that can and do break down during the buyers first year of ownership. It stands to reason your home will have a competative advantage when it includes a protection plan. Today's buyers are picky. Give them something extra. Grab their attention.

Appearance. Remember the old advertising slogan, "Even your best friends won't tell you!"? Well, a good Realtor will level with you. Have your real estate professional give you a set of ideas on how to spiff up your house. Put aside what you think is nice or adequate. Listen to your professional advisor. Paint, clip, cut, clean, deodorize, send to storage, toss out, caulk, mow, paper, cement, repair, add, scoop, weed, tearn down, and scrub.

Little things do count. A minimum of time, effort and money spent now can bring large rewards.
Atmosphere. There are also some "do's and don'ts", which can be helpful in creating a selling atmosphere. Leave the house when it's being shown and take the dog and children with you. If you must be home, don't chat with buyers, just disappear. Tune the FM radio to quiet, soothing music. Be careful of cooking oders. Turn on all the lights. Fresh flowers are always a plus. Keep the temperature at a comfortable level, open windows and doors if weather and security permit. Pick up kid's toys. Help your real estate professional by creating a warm, pleasant, private sales environment.

We thank Mr. Phillip B. Branson for his insight.

Mr. Branson is a noted real estate author and lecturer. Fomerly a consultant to major firms, has been active in residential real estate since 1967.

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