It is not an easy time to sell your home.
A little over a year ago, sellers had the upper hand when the real estate market was red hot and there were many buyers competing for every available property, driving up the price in the process.
But higher mortgage rates, falling home prices and economic uncertainty mean the balance of power has shifted.
Buyers are taking a “wait and see” approach, and sellers are having to work harder to get an offer at the price they want. Meanwhile, gazundering appears to be on the rise.
How much does it cost? Agents say one of the main reasons homes don’t sell is because they are overpriced.
Others find that their property stays on the market for a long time and are faced with the possibility of reducing the price or keeping calm and risking their listing staying on the market longer.
However, according to experts, some sellers may not be doing their best. They say there are common reasons why some properties don’t sell and they can be fixed relatively easily.
We look at five things sellers might be doing wrong in today’s market and what they can do about it.
1. You don’t have a good real estate agent
One of the most important factors when selling your home is having the right agent on your side.
The company you choose should work hard to be seen by the right buyers, and if not, you can always take your business elsewhere.
Colby Short, co-founder of estate agent comparison website GetAgent, says: “There are a host of reasons why you may be struggling to sell your home, but they often stem from one central factor: your estate agent,” he says.
“The best approach is to research the best-performing agent in your area based on metrics such as average sales time, percentage of asking price achieved consistently, and their customer satisfaction rating.”
Short warns against choosing the agent who promises the highest price – or lowest fee – as this can be a false economy.
Agent of Chaos: Bad real estate agents can set unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment later when the asking price is not met.
“These are two big red flags, as a good agent will rarely compromise on fees and will not overprice simply to earn your business,” he says.
He adds that it’s sometimes best to avoid “fixed fee” agents who promise to sell a home for a fixed amount, rather than a percentage of the sales price.
“The vast majority of these agents do not actively work to advance your sale beyond accepting an offer, and this is actually the most vital part of the selling process,” he says.
“Particularly in current market conditions where uncertainty has increased, you need a good agent working day in and day out to ensure your sale moves to completion.”
Read our guide to the nine questions you should ask a real estate agent before hiring them.
2. Your asking price is too high
According to agents, this is the number one reason why people have difficulty selling their homes.
House prices have soared since the pandemic, with annual growth reaching as much as 15 percent at some points in 2021 and 2022.
That is no longer the case, and the latest indices show moderate growth or even price declines.
To begin with, it is common for sellers to enter the market with an unrealistic price expectation.
Experts say home sellers must adapt to this new reality if they want to sell.
Otherwise, they risk remaining on the market for a long time, making the property appear less attractive to buyers as they assume something is wrong.
James Forrester, managing director of agency Barrows and Forrester, says: “There just isn’t the same buying frenzy as there was a year ago.”
‘It is common for sellers to enter the market with an unrealistic price expectation, and this can cause their property to sit on the market with little or no interest for weeks on end.
‘A property can have incredible sentimental value and therefore it is understandable that this can often cloud our judgement.
“However, today’s market is very different to that of 12 months ago and pricing in line with current market conditions is vital if you want to secure a sale.”
Tim Dansie, director of estate agency Jackson-Stops in Ipswich, adds that even if a buyer accepts his ambitious price, it can all fall apart later when they apply for a mortgage, which could unravel the entire chain.
“One of the realities of a more balanced market is the need for buyers and sellers to find a middle point in terms of prices,” he says.
‘When carrying out valuations, we are clear with buyers that overly enthusiastic asking prices could lead to disappointment in the future.
‘Long chains often depend on a number of mortgages being accepted and works being completed, which is when lenders using true market values quickly undo any overvalued prices, risking the entire the chain collapsed.
“Accepting price adjustments of around 5-10 percent up front can secure a buyer, speed up the sales process and avoid last-minute negotiations.”
Declutter: The clutter associated with pets and children can put off some potential buyers
3. You didn’t fix it beforehand
Since buyers can be picky, it’s more important than ever to present your home in the best light possible.
That means not only keeping the property clean and tidy, but also taking care of small DIY tasks that might make it look a little clunky.
Seemingly mundane jobs like touching up chipped paint, cleaning windows, and weeding your driveway can pay dividends.
“You’d be surprised how many sellers put an unsuitable property on the market and then scratch their heads when buyers aren’t very enthusiastic,” Von Grundherr says.
‘You really need to showcase your house and all the features it may have.
“Clutter, clutter, children’s toys, pet hair, these are all things that can create a negative opinion of your property and in today’s market you simply cannot afford to put off buyers.”
Pro Tip: Agents Say Homes Should Be Shown with Professional Photos
4. Photos are not good enough.
Another problem may be that the photos of your home online are not up to par.
Most buyers’ first encounter with your home will be on a website full of property listings, and featured images can make the difference between a buyer booking a showing or not.
Make sure they look professional and show off all areas of the home, inside and out.
‘Presentation is key and starts with photographs of your property.
“If instead of professional photos you sell some smartphone photos, you are already at a disadvantage,” says Von Grundherr.
If your home has been on the market for some time, it’s a good idea to get a new set of pictures that reflect the current season. You can ask your real estate agent to do this.
Looking at photos of a house with the sun shining and a leafy tree in the yard when it’s snowing outside is a dead giveaway that it’s been around for a while.
Be good! Agents say owners can be rude when buyers come to view the property.
5. YOU put off potential buyers
Finally, anyone struggling to sell their home must face the uncomfortable possibility that the problem is not the home, but the homeowner.
If you are present at viewings, you will want to appear friendly, positive and helpful.
Moving house can be incredibly stressful and you need to show potential buyers that you won’t be a thorn in their side.
Von Grundherr adds: “Most of the time, the problem may be you.”
‘More often than not, a salesperson will be present during the viewing process and you would be surprised how often they can be cold, unwelcoming, curt or even rude.
“You really need to turn on the charm, and if you can’t, let your agent handle the viewing process entirely.”