Right now, in the spring of 2022, it is a fantastic time to be a home seller. Houses are fetching record prices in most major markets, and due to the general upward trend in real estate caused by significantly increased demand, it is more the rule than the exception for a house to be snapped up almost as soon as it hits the market. But sometimes a house can fail to generate much interest and languish unsold for far longer than the owner anticipates. But why exactly does this happen? Why, when the market is so favorable to sellers, do some houses stubbornly refuse to attract buyers? And is there something that homeowners who find themselves in such an unfortunate situation can do to mitigate this problem? By means of answering these questions, the following is a professional Realtor’s perspective on some possible reasons why a house might not be selling, as presented by Joel Barber, a seasoned real estate agent based out of the red hot property market of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Although the case of each individual property is unique, the root of this problem can usually be traced to one or more of four main factors, and of those, the primary culprit tends to be unrealistic pricing. Selling a house is a business transaction, and like any other transaction, the item for sale is only worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it. If a house has been on the market for more than a few weeks without drawing an offer, the chances are that the listing price is unrealistically high. “What this usually indicates is that the owners have retained an inexperienced real estate agent, or are trying to sell the home themselves and, having not conducted proper research, listed the home far above market value. It’s good to be optimistic, but it pays to be realistic,” remarks Joel Barber, before offering a simple solution. “To fix this, find and retain an experienced Realtor familiar with the market in question. Any Realtor worth their salt will easily identify a home that is priced too high, and immediately take action to rectify the problem, paving the way for renewed interest in the property.”
If the pricing of the property is appropriate, the next most logical reason for a house not selling has nothing to do with the house itself, but rather its location. It is a lamentable truth in the real estate industry that location dictates value. For instance, a small, poorly-maintained house with bad plumbing and lots of damage might sell instantly for a small fortune if it is located in the heart of a desirable neighborhood in a fashionable city. By the same token, a big, well-maintained house might receive next to no buyer interest if it has the misfortune of being located in an area with a high crime rate, or if it is far away from schools, shopping, and other amenities. “I’ve seen instances of beautifully-kept houses with no apparent problems remaining unsold for months on end just because the surrounding area has a bad reputation, whether warranted or not,” says Barber. “This is a trickier problem to solve. Outside of making improvements to the interior and exterior of the house, as well as the condition of any yards on the property, there is very little that can be done. Unfortunately, most of the time, the listing price will have to be lowered commensurate with similar properties in the neighborhood.”
Improper Staging or Bad Listing Photos
Another possible factor contributing to the lackluster response rate to a house for sale has to do with negative buyer perception. This can be caused by either improper staging or bad photos on the online listing. Like it or not, proper presentation is crucial when it comes to selling a home, and first impressions are lasting in the eyes of potential buyers. Owners have to make their property look as desirable as possible if they want to sell quickly and receive a good price. “The cardinal rule of staging, be it for an in-person showing or for photos accompanying an online listing, is maximizing space,” asserts Joel Barber, summoning the lessons of many years of experience. “Reducing clutter is key. Furniture placement is key. Make sure everything is spotless. Sometimes a new coat of paint is called for. Although this may seem like a lot of effort and expense, I guarantee it will help to generate more interest in a home. People need to be able to envision themselves living in a house before they make a serious offer.”
For Sale By Owner
Finally, there is the perennial issue of homes that are up for sale by owner (FSBO). FSBO homes tend to stay on the market far longer and receive lower offers than properties managed by professional real estate agents. And although the prospect of saving on Realtor fees may be appealing to some homeowners, choosing to sell a house without the benefit of a licensed Realtor’s experience carries with it a significant downside, and may aggravate all the problems touched on in the above paragraphs. In many cases homeowners are too emotionally tangled up in their house to know how to value it properly. Having a knowledgeable third party dispassionately evaluate an appropriate asking price will keep it in line with the norms of a given market and encourage buyer interest. A veteran real estate agent will be familiar with the most effective ways to diminish the negative perceptions associated with a house located in an undesirable neighborhood, and will also know how to best stage a house for in-person showings and online listing photos. In many ways, trying to sell a home without the services of a Realtor is like trying to navigate the legal system without the benefit of an attorney. “Every time I see a property listed as FSBO, I can’t help but shake my head and think, ‘there’s another poor soul who’s going to learn the truth about the real estate market the hard way.’ Between the extra time spent in housing market limbo and the thousands of dollars that will inevitably be left on the table if they do manage to sell it themselves, I just don’t see why people think it’s worth it to go it alone,” states Joel Barber, before concluding, “I suppose some people think they can do just as good a job as the professionals. As a person who sells houses for a living, take it from me: they can’t.”
Joel Barber is a professional Realtor operating out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.