In my 27 years as a Realtor, I’ve never seen a market like this. Even well-priced homes in my farm area in Colorado just aren’t selling. Here’s the funny part though–in many cases it’s NOT just because the price is too high. Over the years, I found that there are often other issues I can fix to sell the home without a big price cut.

So before you call your sellers to beg them to let you lower the price, read some of the most common issues I’ve found that kept homes from selling in past market slowdowns. There are some easy fixes here and some harder ones, but hopefully something in this list will let you reposition your listing to sell without slashing the price.

Download Sean’s Listing Marketing Plan Checklist

1. Poor Communication

discussion between Girl and Man

The number one reason well-priced homes aren’t selling in 2022 is poor communication with the seller. If you don’t clearly communicate to your seller the specific issues that are preventing the home from selling, you have zero chance of fixing them. This will leave you with no option except to ask for a major price reduction. 

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

Clear communication with your seller starts with your listing presentation, market overview, staging consultation, and comparative market analysis (CMA). You need to set clear expectations about how to interpret market acceptance through the marketing response, showings, and feedback from buyer’s agents. 

Since you probably don’t have a time machine, you can improve communication with your seller today by getting on the phone to request feedback from buyer’s agents. Then call recent pendings and ask the listing agents about their activity level and offers. Then schedule a meeting with your seller to go over your findings. 

Unless your market is totally dead, odds are better than average that at least one of the other problems on this list is keeping the home from selling. 

2. Ineffective Marketing

Ineffective Marketing

Sellers can get frustrated when their home doesn’t sell right away. They often like to focus their frustration on your marketing. 

Before you get defensive, take a long hard look at your marketing to see if it can be improved. Sometimes making small adjustments to your marketing can have a big impact on showings and just might get the home sold at or close to your current asking price. 

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

Start by searching the MLS as if you were a buyer’s agent looking for a similar home for your buyer. Is your listing even showing up in the search? This is a quick and easy way to see if you got some information wrong. 

I did this once with a beautiful home that backed to a golf course that wasn’t getting enough showings. When I searched my MLS for “Golf Course Communities,” my listing didn’t show up. I then discovered I didn’t check the box for Golf Course Communities when I entered the listing into the MLS. Once I corrected my simple mistake, the showings doubled!

If you think your marketing needs more work than a simple fix like this, check out my listing marketing plan below for some fresh ideas. 

Related Article
Sean’s Ultimate Real Estate Listing Marketing Plan (PDF Checklist)

3. Restricted Showings

Road Close Signage

Every experienced agent knows that to sell a home for top dollar, you have to allow buyers to see it. The problem is that over the past few years, many sellers have gotten away with listing and selling their homes sight unseen. Obviously in a buyer’s market, this won’t work. 

Even in slow markets, some sellers still think that buyers will jump through hoops to buy their home, so they’re unwilling to allow more showings. They may have tenants who are restricting showings, or maybe they just don’t want to be inconvenienced. Whatever their excuses are, you need to convince them that the tides have now shifted and buyers just aren’t making offers like they were last year. 

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

Today’s sellers need to be flexible with their showing times and allow plenty of availability for the home to be seen. Have a frank discussion with your seller and explain to them why restricting showings might keep their home from selling. If you have personal data showing that homes in the neighborhood that get shown more, sell faster, show it to them. Whatever you do, you need to convince them that more showings = a faster sale. Because in slow markets, this is exactly what happens. 

4. Low-quality Photos

kitchen sink

When it comes to homes not selling, photography deserves its own category. We have all seen MLS photos taken with cell phones with the reflection of the agent in the bathroom mirror. But your listing pictures might have bigger issues that are keeping the home from selling. 

Here’s why: The goal of any listing picture is not only to show off the home’s best features, but to NOT give the buyer ANY reason to eliminate the home from their home tour. Too often agents include photos that reveal too many flaws. 

They’ll tell me, “I include everything so I don’t waste the buyer’s and the buyer’s agent’s time” or “Why have them look at a house if the buyer isn’t interested.” That’s all fine and well, but it might be keeping the home from selling when the market slows down. If you really want to sell, you need to get as many qualified buyers through the door as possible. In slow markets, it really is that simple. 

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

If the pictures are not great, spend the money to hire a professional photographer to reshoot the listing. Then scrutinize each photo you post on Zillow or social media. Remove any pictures that show cluttered rooms, busy streets, power lines, small or unmanicured yards, or anything else that would give a buyer a reason to eliminate the home from their home tour.

Related Article
38 Bad Real Estate Photos Agents Actually Posted

5. Below-par Home Features

red house

According to Freddie Mac, over 50% of the existing homes in the U.S. are 30 years old or older. Most of these homes have small bedrooms, no primary bath, and a one car garage–all reasons a buyer may pass on your listing without even seeing it in person.

It is easy to overlook conformity issues by saying that the layout is “typical for the age of the home.” However, today’s buyers want homes that have larger rooms, primary baths, efficient heating, air conditioning, and windows, and even sprinkler systems for the yard.

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

If your listing isn’t selling, take the time to look at the home through the eyes of today’s buyer. What features of the home are not to today’s standards? In some cases, sellers can correct these items through quick renovations. If they can’t or won’t renovate, advise them to make a price adjustment or offer a buyer credit to compensate for the specific issue so you can mention it to prospective buyers. 

6. Glaring Condition Issues

couple covered with paint

Deferred maintenance like flaking paint, a dead lawn, or worn-out carpets are just a few things that might deter a buyer from making an offer. If the home looks like work, many buyers will avoid it. In extreme cases, it might even prevent the property from even being lendable.

When you initially took the listing, you probably discussed all the necessary updates or repairs that your seller was willing to do. In a perfect world, these items would have been corrected before the listing was photographed and placed on the MLS. But since you’re reading this article, you are not in a perfect world! Condition issues like flaking paint or stained carpet can keep the home from selling. 

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

The remaining repairs may have been out of their budget, time frame, or the seller may have just not seen them as important to the sale of their home. Discuss with the seller how these issues may prevent their home from selling and recommend that they address the issues that are within their budget and time frame. Or better yet, convince them to increase their budget and shorten their time frame. 

7. HOA, Fees, or Taxes Are Too High

flexing dollar bills

High homeowner association (HOA), taxes, and fees associated with your listing impact the buyer’s purchasing power more than many agents might think. 

For example: If the current interest rate is 5.25%, the principal and interest per $1,000 financed is approximately $5.50. If the home is in a special tax district and the taxes are $100 a month more than similar homes in the area, the buyer’s purchasing power is $18,000 (($100 / $5.50) X $1,000) less if they were to buy your listing. That’s not chump change for many people.

How to Fix This Problem & Sell Your Listing

Since most buyers are buying based on their monthly payment, this will be a big deterrent for them making an offer on your listing versus another home with lower taxes or fees. If your listing has high taxes or HOA fees, try asking the seller to offer to pay the taxes or HOA for one year to allow the buyer time to adjust to the higher payment.

Bottom Line

Homes are sitting on the market much longer than in recent years. Sellers don’t want to hear that your only solution to get their home sold is to reduce the price. Today’s market requires you to be more proactive to get your listings sold. A little extra preparation will ensure you get your listings sold, hopefully without a major price cut. 

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