The Top 10 Issues That Are Preventing Your Home From Selling:
Okay, so everyone thinks the only reasons a house doesn’t sell is primarily 1) The Price, 2) The Location, or 3) The Features / Condition (or the combination of these three). It is true that one of these factors can hurt the sale of a property but often times there are other unnoticed problems. In this article we are going to examine 10 major problems which can cause a home to sit on the market, not get sold, and become the dreaded ‘expired listing.’ These problems pose a threat to not only homes in Fort Bend and Harris county but any home in the Texas market. Our solutions are posted below each problem.
Problem #1: Information entered improperly or incomplete in MLS (HAR.com)
I put this as number one simply because it is the most preventable and easiest to remedy; yet it is can cause a ton of problems and ruin a potential sell. Let’s just examine one incorrect entry and the scope of its damage; for instance, the subdivision information is incorrect. Big deal, people will figure it out, right? Maybe, but unlikely. A savvy agent might pick up on the address not matching the subdivision; however, consider the buyer’s agent is sorting through tons of listings and may overlook it. Buyers and their agents conduct their initial search for homes based on three conditions: price range, features, and location. In this example, the location error is most likely eliminating an entire pool of buyers (because your house isn’t showing up in their search results). This is just one example but it applies to any errors or omissions in the listing; including but not limited to: Square Feet, Lot Size, Number of Bedrooms, Number of Baths, School Information, Zip Code, Features, etc. Golf, pool, clubhouse, landscaping, exercise facilities… What all do your HOA dues cover? Or, do you even have HOA dues? The assumption on a seller’s part is normally that a buyer who’s considering the neighborhood (or their agent showing property) will already know everything that the area offers. Not true. If your agent doesn’t know, then who’s going to inform potential buyers and their agents? You wouldn’t go to buy a laptop at Best Buy and settle for the laptop that doesn’t have any information listed e.g. what’s the hard-drive space, processor speed, operating system, etc.? Even worse, what if the laptop had a note by it which said, ‘do your own research’… No, you would never settle for this with buying a laptop and consumers will definitely not settle for lack of information in a home purchase.
Answer #1: Enter Full and Correct Information
This is simple but often times skipped or skimmed through. The answer is for the listing agent to research and accurately enter all available information. The thing to remember is the buyer and the buyer’s agent don’t search for homes… they eliminate properties first and then search for the right home within their narrowed results. A properly entered listing shows up in the maximum amount of searches and thus avoids being eliminated.
Problem #2: Poor quality pictures or lack of pictures
Poor quality pictures are unacceptable to us, period. We won’t expand on this issue too much since we feel it should be a requirement for Realtors to select the best pictures for a listing using a high definition camera. Selling a home as an agent is a business and requires money to be spent in advance i.e. an investment in getting the property sold. Unless sellers and agents enjoy causing a listing to expire, they need to fully evaluate the cost of doing business; and it begins with a strong presentation to buyers.
Answer #2: Professional Photographer
To us, selling a home is a business and a business requires expenses to make a profit. Whether we have a listing priced at $100,000 or over a million dollars, we hire an experienced, professional photographer every time. Why? We care about our reputation for delivering the highest level service and more importantly because it is worth the cost. A home’s photos are a major determining factor in a buyer’s decision to schedule a showing or not. For Luxury home’s we upload the maximum amount of photos allowed by MLS, we take daytime and nighttime pictures , have a professional virtual tour, professional flyers, and all pictures are of the highest quality by today’s standards. If your goal is to sell a home for the most money possible in the shortest amount of time, then this practice should be stable in your business.
Problem #3: Incomplete, inaccurate, or poorly worded description and property information
Have you ever been looking online for a home yourself and come across that generic verbiage used by banks when they sell property? For Example: “This home is being sold As Is” or “Home has no warranties” or “Seller is motivated, must sell” – same old, same old.
Frustrating, right? Well, that’s how buyers view a poorly worded, or researched, description.
Answer #3: Write a well-researched, intriguing description
Make sure the description is telling a story, provides useful information, and makes buyers curious. Because syndication sites (Zillow, Trulia, Hot Pads, Realtor.com, Yahoo Real Estate, etc.) are going to match the description input in the MLS. So I repeat, make the description good! Also, don’t confuse lengthy – with good. Sometimes less is more. Even the most simple description can make the difference between someone making an appointment to see it – or not. Finally, even if buyers are attracted to a poorly written description it is not without reason… They are looking for a bargain property.
Problem #4: Lack of varied exposure and online presence
There has been a lot of turmoil amongst the real estate community about sending data to sites like Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, etc. You should know that your agent might (without even knowing it) have your home’s listing invisible to many of the major players in the online real estate community. Over 90% of consumers start their home search online and over 46% use a mobile device with a preferred application. This means if your home isn’t activated on the majority of these sites it is hidden from a large pool of buyers.
Answer #4: Maximum Exposure
We post your listing to over a 100 different websites ranging from the top players to smaller niche sites. We take our time and cover as many bases as possible. Also, on major syndication sites we pay extra to ensure our listings get the most attention as possible. We are on the same page as you – we want your listing to be seen by as many buyers as possible. It is a simple formula: the more views, equals the more showings, and thus the more potential offers. Since over 90% of buyers start their home search online, and most buyers have a personal preference on what website or application they use to do the search; we must target the main websites and apps and make sure your home is being seen on them all.
Problem #5: Home doesn’t match the features, upgrades, or repair level of the neighborhood
This is considered one of the main reasons a home doesn’t sell by most experts. It is also one of the things that a seller most likely cannot change i.e. lack of funds, lack of time, or an unfixable problem. For instance, if your home doesn’t have granite and every other house in the neighborhood does have granite you are at a big disadvantage. Even worse, is when every home has 2 bathrooms and your home only has one; this is known as functional obsolescence and is almost unsolvable. If your house is not equally functional or at the same standard, it loses appeal to traditional buyers.
Answer #5: Market and Price the Home Accordingly
We see these types of properties all the time being priced and marketed traditionally, however, this is not a typical situation and requires modification of strategy. This solution could be another article in and of itself but here is an example overview: A seller has a property which needs $20k in repairs and upgrades to match the area homes. Selling this home traditionally will incur a wealth of problems (incorrect pricing, large repair request by buyers after inspection, appraisal issues, inability of lender to finance buyer, etc.) and eventually not sell. However, marketing this type of home to cash buyers or investors creates a different situation. We know how to change the marketing plan to suit any type of home and have a database of over 400 local investors.
Problem #6: Location of the home
This is similar to number five and is also considered a top reason why a home won’t sell by experts. Even worse, it is impossible for a seller to change their property’s location.
Answer #6: Location is an obstacle or excuse but not a game ender.
Sellers who have a bad physical location and have had their listing expire might ask their agent, “Why didn’t my home sell?” and get the response, “It’s just in a bad location.” However, we have seen houses in the worst neighborhoods, off busy streets, next to train tracks, so on and so forth, still get sold. How? The owner and the agent were both aware of the problem and aware of the solutions. There is no one universal solution, yet often times this requires a realistic price expectation. If the owner got an amazing deal on the home, then he or she will most likely have to sell the home as an amazing deal.
Problem #7: Incorrectly priced (or Poor / No CMA by the Agent)
Again, this piggybacks on the previous two points. Unlike the other two issues, however, this one is completely in the control of the seller and/or agent. Many times, owners want to walk away with a certain amount and use this number to dictate the price of the home. Then they tell their agent the price and the agent shrugs and agrees with the owner to get the listing. Or the owner and agree to set the price high and slowly move down until its sold. Other times, owners ask their agent and the agent performs an incorrect CMA, no CMA (a shot in the dark) or simply uses the tax record to determine the price. All of these methods are wrong.
Answer #7: Price it right from the start
Research shows a home priced correctly from the beginning gets more showings and thus more offers, period. Why? Because your home is invisible to buyers, being overlooked by them, or they see it and don’t have the time for you and your agent to eventually figure out the market value. Always keep in mind, the owner and their ‘magic’ number (or net) doesn’t determine value, nor does the lazy agent with a poorly constructed CMA (or no CMA). The market determines the value, period. We use a Broker Price Opinion certified agent to do a proper CMA to figure out the best price to market your home.
Problem #8: It’s too difficult to show the home
“Tenant occupied, requires 48 hour notice to show, call agent Smith at 555-555-5555, leave a voicemail and the agent will call the tenant to arrange a showing.”
Ahhhhhhh!!! The above is an example of nightmarish, showing instructions that an agent must check before gaining access to a property. There are few things more frustrating than having to jump through multiple hoops in order to schedule a showing. Sometimes, this is unavoidable – like when a home is tenant occupied and 24 hour notice is required. However, there are often times when the listing agent is the only point of contact for a property and they never answer their phone or return voice messages!
If an agent tells you that they (personally) handle all of their showing appointments… Run for the hills!! It’s virtually impossible for one person to be available 24/7 and buyers don’t have the patience. Here’s another example, one agent’s showing instructions stated no appointment was necessary and to use the electronic lockbox. Upon arriving at the property, there was no visible lockbox. I attempted to call the listing agent and left multiple voicemails. After leaving the property frustrated, the agent called two hours later and said she was sorry because it was a combination lockbox and it was on the back door. Wow, this is a pretty big mistake.
Answer #8: Use a showing service, ensure accuracy, and be realistic
Using a showing service mitigates 99% (not a real stat but seemingly accurate) of these problems. It gives the sellers the power to set the schedule and is available 24/7 with a large staff of customer support and online tools. Also, owners need to set realistic time-frames for notice i.e. 2 hour notice is reasonable while 48 hours is pushing the envelope. Owners need to be sure not to set unreasonable restrictions as well, such as ‘no weekend showings’; this would hurt the amount of overall showings as buyers primarily use the weekends to view all the homes for sale. Agents need to remind owners of these factors when setting up the home’s availability with the showing service, and most importantly agents need to ensure the accuracy when entering the information.
The showing service we pay for allows for call, text, and email notifications to the sellers. It allows owners to modify the availability e.g. they can call the showing service and allow for automatic showing for the coming weekend only. It also provides an automated feedback system for the buyer’s agents to leave pertinent details about how the showing went and the buyer’s opinions on the property. These are just some of the features but they are well worth the price tag and should be required (in our opinion).
Problem #9: Too low of a commission for the Buyer’s Agent
Commissions are completely negotiable in the state of Texas. And 90% of agents will, regardless of the commission, show a property to a buyer who requests a showing. That being said, home selling is a competitive environment in which money plays a major role. Let’s use an example to illustrate, there are two very similar properties in the same neighborhood (same price, features, etc.), except one is offering a 3% commission and the other is offering 2.5% commission; which one will probably get the most showings?
Answer #9: Offer the standard commission for the area or higher
In the Fort Bend area, homes on the market have an average commission of 3% and this is what buyer’s agents are expecting to be paid. Again, this doesn’t mean a home offering 2% won’t be sold, it just means it lacks one element to the competition of other houses. Ask yourself, why do most, ‘For Sale By Owner’ eventually end up listing with an agent (I believe the stats are only 15% end up selling their home themselves; usually for a below average price)? Besides the marketing factors, the main reason is buyer’s agents typically don’t want the hassle or the reduced (or often zero) commission being offered by FSBO’s. Then ask yourself, why do most new home builders get their inventory homes sold quickly? Besides offering a wealth of buyer incentives, developers typically offer the Realtor a commission bonus as well. Hmmmmm… A pattern is definitely emerging here.
Problem #10: A lazy (or too busy) agent or owner
Are you getting showings but no offers?
Sometimes the cause of your home not selling might just be… You! Sounds harsh, but if you’ve turned down more than one showing, don’t make it easy to show, refuse to de-clutter the house, or don’t leave when a prospective buyer is viewing the home (it’s just kind of awkward to have the owner snooping the entire time) – you might need to venture outside of your comfort zone a bit to get the home sold. For instance, does all the buyer feedback at the end of the month suggest buyers think the carpet is ugly? Should you consider a carpet cleaning or even new carpet in light of this feedback?
Agents can be just as guilty as this as well. Are you too scared to tell the sellers your recommendations based on the feedback? Do you think your job is only to put up a sign in the front yard and put the house on MLS? Wake up, marketing a property requires good old fashioned hard work, and getting a home sold often requires being more forthright with the sellers than you feel comfortable. If the home is priced too high based on new competition, then you need to let the owner know instead of letting the listing go stale and expire.
Selling a home requires hard work, communication, time, and investment; this applies to both the seller and the Realtor. It is a team effort versus tough opponents. If your house is listed in Sweetwater of Sugar Land, TX than it is competing against all the other properties in this neighborhood (and sometimes beyond this area); it is you and your agent versus the other owners and their agents. Are you doing everything you can to win? Is your agent doing everything he/she can to win?
We list and sell homes like it’s the last quarter of the championship or a title fight [see our 21 ½ Point Plan of Action for details]. Getting homes sold is a fierce competition and you need someone who is ready for battle. We specialize in getting expired listings and For Sale By Owner properties sold in the greater Ft Bend area. Remember, we don’t do this for fun; we do it to be #1.