The” for sale” sign is staked to the grassy earth for the world to see. Cars drive by, the phone rings every once in a while, possibly a showing or two but no results. The sign sits for four months while similar signs down the street have red and blue riders that read “sold” or “pending”. Then the time comes. The listing contract is over. The house you had for sale has expired on the Multiple Listing Services. What to do next. Extend the listing? Try to sell the home yourself? Take it off the market and wait til next summer to list the house again? All of those are valid options however now is the time to step back and take a good hard look at what went wrong. In today’s market every house should sell. Buyers are out searching and with historic low interest rates, a dwindling supply and lenders easing restrictions your property should sell.
So what went wrong? Selling a house is not magic. It’s not rocket science either. Selling takes only five components, location, condition, terms, marketing and price. Location is the only aspect you cannot control. Is your house located in a beautiful quiet neighborhood or are you across the street from railroad tracks? Are hi power lines running through your back yard? Are you near a busy highway or a shopping center? Do you live in an excellent school district? These factors can affect how fast or if your home sales. There is nothing you can do about location. You cannot easily move your home. The only way you can compensate for location is to strengthen the other four components. Condition is a controllable factor. Is your house run down? Do you have rotting wood siding? Are your gutters hanging off the eave? Does your abode smell like pets? Is the finish out like a throw back from 1970? Like before if one aspect is weak the other four must be strengthened, however condition is something the Seller can control. Sometimes it is worth hiring a handy man to fix up the broken parts of a house. Installing granite counter tops can be the difference. Possibly new carpeting is in order or professional cleaning to remove the pet odors. Terms are another factor. Are you only allowing showings between 3 – 5 pm? Must the Buyer wait an additional month before your willing to close? Are you refusing to upgrade? Marketing, this is a big one. Is the word getting out? Is your dwelling on multiple web sites? What about MLS? Are there email campaigns and mail outs? This is the Realtor’s responsibility if you are using a Realtor. Is she or he doing as advertised? You are paying a 6% commission in which 3% goes to the selling Realtor. Is he or she earning their money? Is he or she advertising your dwelling correctly? This is a very important factor and this factor should not be taken lightly. However the king of all the factors is price. All of the other factors can be cured with the right sales price. The weakness with the other factors lowers the value. All homes will sell with the correct market price. The market dictates the value. Buyers tend to look at many houses. They can determine what falls into what range. Spotting a home priced incorrectly is very easy and if the Buyer is using an FHA insured loan to purchase, the price better be right. FHA will not approve a loan if their estimate comes out lower than the sells price. Someone needs to make up the difference and usually the responsibility falls onto the Seller. The Buyer usually does not have the cash to make up the difference.
If your house has expired, the Seller must step back. I know that can be hard to do. You lived there for many years, raised your children, and enjoyed a life. Emotions get the best of you, it may be worth $200,000 to you, but will the average Buyer appreciate the same thing. To them your house is just another product, the proverbial widget which one day could become their abode. However the house is not theirs yet. Maybe the price should really be $150,000? I know it can be hard to face market value prices. Sometimes the market value is less than what you owe and that’s a tragic situation. The market values is what the market value is and if the price is too high the house will sit with few showings and no offers, the hard questions come into play. Can we wait to pay off a little more of the loan? Can we afford to make up the difference between the sale and what we owe? Should we consider other alternatives such as short selling or God forbid foreclosure? However if you are not in one of those situations, this is the time to do some real soul searching. What is the reason your home did not sell? Sit back with an objective eye and be honest with yourself. Then you will find the answer.