Why Some Houses Can't Sell

Given the current economy and strong real estate market, it is hard to comprehend why some homes are actually lingering on the market today. Even though inventory is low, demand persists and prospective buyers are at their wits end – today’s real estate customers are not frantically buying just anything on the market. Today’s buyers are smart and engaged. They will not be duped by trumped up prices, homes in poor condition or poor locations. If a house is not priced right, it will sit and buyers will take notice. In fact, data compiled from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and 10K Research and Marketing showed that while 39 percent of Bay State homes that sold this spring were on the market for 60 days or less, 23 percent of properties took more than 181 days to sell, 16 percent took more than 211 days, and 12 percent languished for more than eight months before moving to contract.

Regardless of economic optimism and market intensity, sellers have to ensure that all their ducks are in a row - or they will not see the buyer interest they anticipate. One of the most important aspects to consider when listing a home (in any market) is pricing. A qualified real estate professional will accurately assess the value of a home based on what similar properties in the neighborhood are going for - right now. By looking at local transactional history and homes with the same attributes, a sales agent can provide “comps” (comparable analysis) for the community, the type of home and current market demand. What a home sold for five years ago – or even last year – in a completely different town is simply not relevant.

Real estate prospects trust the expertise of respected real estate professionals, access listings online, read industry blogs and check out video podcasts – long before they actively jump into the market. They know when a home is not selling, and they take note when prices drop over time. Some buyers confidently opt to cool their heels and wait to see if they can buy certain properties for less money in one or two months. Dropping the listing price steadily often shows that the home was overpriced to begin with, requires additional investment or has some quirks that buyers cannot get past. Savvy buyers take note of this drip approach and are willing to take their chances that the price will go even lower. Statistics support the fact that houses that have remained on the market for four to six months have sold for 7%-12% less than the original asking price. A seller’s best bet is to price their home accurately from the get-go to save time, aggravation and money.

Homes that have been poorly maintained, lack curb appeal or do not offer open floor plans may often sit for months too. Buyers want bright, open spaces with flow for modern living. Many are willing to do cosmetic work and to put their personal touch on properties, but very few are prepared for the labor and expenses that accompany a complete overhaul. If a home is not priced right to accommodate much-needed updates to the kitchen and baths – buyers may not look past outdated features and antiquated systems. Likewise, if a buyer approaches a home that is overgrown with weeds, a roof in disrepair, shutters falling off or void of charm – prospective buyers may not leave their cars to venture into the bidding process. Invest a little time, money and sweat equity to ensure the inside of your home is clean, bright and clutter-free and the outside is well-maintained and inviting – and a buyer will materialize.

Some homes that languish on the market do so due to personal preferences. Buyers may be adverse to pools, at-risk communities, properties that lack parking or public transportation, or daunting walk-ups. Real estate agents can also play a role in whether a property sells. Be sure to check your realtor’s listing and sales success, ask about their reputation in the market, ensure they have a great sphere of influence that can get the word out about your home, and be sure they have the time to properly market your home during this crazy, busy time in real estate.

Listing your house is like preparing for an important date – take the steps to primp, accent the positive and be authentic - and someone is sure to fall in love. 

David McCarthy is principal of six synergistic Keller Williams Realty offices in Newton, Framingham and Boston’s Back Bay, South End and Charlestown neighborhoods. Keller Williams Realty was ranked highest in overall satisfaction for buyers and sellers among national full service real estate firms in JD Powers’ most recent Proprietary Home Buyer/Seller Study. The largest real estate franchise company in the United States with approximately 700 offices and 80,000 associates around the world, Keller Williams Realty has grown exponentially since its 1983 start, and continues to foster an agent-centric, education-based, technology-driven business strategy that rewards associates as stakeholders.


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