Has you lawn grown up around that "For Sale" sign? Have the wasps moved into the lock box on your front door? Did you just receive an invitation to your real estate agent's retirement party?
If so, chances are your home sale frizzled.
Here are the most-common reasons why homes don't sell and what you can do about it.
1. Your Home Is Overpriced
Optimistic home sellers love to parrot the old adage, "There's a buyer for every home." But they often leave off the qualifier: "at the buyer's price."
The fact is, buyers -- not sellers -- ultimately determine the market value of a home. You can ask for the moon and set your listing price well above comparable properties in your neighborhood, but at some point it will be up to you, the seller, to accept what the buyer thinks your home is worth.
Overpricing is the most common reason homes don't sell. When you ask an unrealistic price, it sets in motion a process that often works against you. Here's why:
Most real estate agents, and hence most qualified buyers, will see your new listing within 30 days. If it is overpriced by as little as 5 percent, it will be duly noted and interest in your property will wane, especially if you show no intention of coming off your asking price. You likely already priced out buyers who might have qualified for financing at a more reasonable price. Even if you manage to find a buyer at your inflated asking price, the property may not appraise at that figure and the financing will fall apart.
If your home remains on the market for too long, agents and buyers may begin to wonder if there are other, perhaps more serious reasons why it isn't selling.
2. Your Home Doesn't "Show" Well
There is a lot of competition out there to sell homes. Your home has to compete against other similar homes for sale, as well as competing against shiny brand new homes. The more you can do to make your home look appealing to a buyer, the better your chances for a quick sale. Look at your home with a critical eye - put yourself in the buyers position. A buyer doesn't want to have to do anything except move in. Your best "bang for the buck" in improving the condition of your home are paint and flooring. Make sure all of the flooring looks good too. You may want to consider putting in new carpet. Again, it's not that expensive but it sure does make an impact on buyers coming to look at your home.
3. Location, Location, Location
It's the oldest cliche' in the world, but it's true. When it comes to real estate, it's all about location! When it comes to homes, things like how good the schools are, crime rates, visual appeal of the neighborhood or noise can all effect how desirable the location is. If you're in a bad location, a good real estate agent may help to minimize some of the impact by suggesting improvements to the house. The best way to compensate for a poor location is to reduce your asking price or offer attractive incentives such as seller financing, or cash back. Simply put, an identical home in a bad location won't sell for as much as the same home in a better location.
Gone are the days when an agent could simply place your listing with the local multiple listing service, hold a halfhearted open house and wait for another agent to bring forth a buyer.
Today's top performers launch a multilevel marketing plan that includes listing tours for area agents, weekend open houses, listing fliers and placements in real estate publications.
Computers and the Internet also have changed the face of real estate. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 75% of all home buyers use the internet for house hunting. The best real estate agents are computer savvy. They have your listing in color on their laptops to show clients and communitcate frequently via e-mail, a great method for working with out-of-town buyers.
Suffice it to say that if your real estate agent isn't listing your home online through the company Web site and a multitude of other web sites as well as the MLS, you may not be getting the exposure necessary to find a buyer.
5. Market Conditions
We've all heard the terms "buyer's market" and "seller's market." In real estate, market conditions are affected by any number of external forces.
In a "hot" or seller's market, homes go fast. Inventory (homes on the market) may be low, meaning less competition for you. Chances are better that you will get your asking price in a hot market; in fact, it is not uncommon to even be offered more than your listing price.
But in a "flat," "cold" or buyer's market, sales slow to a trickle, inventories grow and buyers can find bargains, especially when they know the seller is motivated (i.e., paying on two mortgages).
If you're trying to sell in a flat market, you're not only competing against all that vacant new construction, buy against rentals as well. In this case, be prepared to settle for less than top dollar, or wait to sell until the pendulum swings once again in your favor.
6. Your Home Isn't Easily Accessible
To get your home sold quickly, it's important that other agents in the area show it to as many potential buyers as possible. When a busy agent is compiling a list of homes to show a buyer, the agent will naturally tend to show those houses that are easiest to gain access to first. It is very important to make your home available to show at a moments notice if needed, it could mean the sale of your house.
7. You Have An Agent Nobody Likes Or Trusts
Sounds almost silly, but it's very true. If your listing agent isn't liked or respected by other agents in your area, it could slow down the sale of your home. When an agent prepares to show properties to prospective buyers, the agent begins by talking to the buyer to find out what kind of home they are looking for. Then the agent searches the local MLS and other sources for homes that fit the buyer. If there are a number of good matches to choose from, and one of them has been listed by an agent that is hard to get along with, or arrogant, or has otherwise made himself unpopular, well..... It's just human nature to tend to skip over someone that is difficult to work with.