Reader Question: We want to sell our house to move closer to our families. Our home was listed two months ago. We interviewed multiple agents, and all agreed the house would sell fast because of the price range and the excellent neighborhood. We set the price toward the low end to sell quickly. Several people have been through but had objections, including cost. A week has passed since we lowered the price to further position the house as the best buy in the neighborhood. Homes around us are selling for more, but still no buyer. The objections are out of our control; the busy street, the floorplan, and the bedrooms on different floors. Our bathroom is updated and we have a new roof, new AC and appliances that are good selling points. We feel like giving up. The market was robust this summer but has cooled off. Is it worth taking the house off the market and revisiting next year?
Monty’s Answer: Your expectations may be unrealistic. Based on your description of the series of events leading up to your question, here is some logic and suggestions to guide you to the best decision.
If 100 potential home buyers are in the market for a similar home, the busy street by itself will reduce the number of prospects. It is not possible to predict how many prospects remain. However, it is logical to assume that the buyer pool for your home contracted. As time passes, existing candidates will buy other houses, but more new prospects are refilling the buyer pool.
When a home contains conditions that are out of their control, a home seller has two basic options to consider:
- Keep reducing the price incrementally until the house sells. As the price of a home decreases, the objections vanish. Every home will sell quickly when the cost is low enough.
- Be patient and wait for a buyer that does not see the conditions that others are objecting to as a problem. Some buyers will see some of the objections as a feature. For example, a single work-from-home entrepreneur may view the first-floor bedroom as a perfect office space.
5 steps to take now
- Gather market data: Did the agents share the correct research? Many real estate agents throw a stack of sold "comparables" on the table and announce their opinion of value without knowing the facts themselves. Ask for an updated list of the best three or four comparable sales that includes cost adjustments for the differences between each similar property and your home. Identify your direct competition. What is the actual sales rate? You may not have yet reached the average time on the market.
- Think marketing: Build a buyer profile and advertise to appeal to them and talk about the benefits the profiled prospects may be seeking. What initially attracted you to the home? If whatever drew you to the house still exists, promote it. Also, some buyers seek a "different" floor plan or will choose a busy street. All your neighbors did.
- Take a hard look at your agent: It seems odd that during interviews none of them mentioned the objections. Is your home in a price range in which they will invest open-house time, or are they just waiting for someone will come along? Watch your agent’s reaction to your request for market data. Do they deliver what you specified, or minimize the idea? Here is a link to an article at https://dearmonty.com/finding-the-right-real-estate-agent/
- Review your situation: On one hand, you reduced the price to sell quickly, and on the other, you consider exiting the market. Those thoughts are conflicting. Ask yourself why you are anxious to sell quickly? You want your actions to match up with your goal.
- Develop a specific action plan: You and your agent can develop a specific plan after completing the tasks mentioned above. You now have the information you need to decide what to do. You can guide your agent to deliver new headlines and descriptions in ads, place ads where your best candidates will see them, agree on asking price, conduct regular open houses, agent open houses and more.
Data generated by the MLS drive these decisions. The data can help clarify your expectations. Keep your home on the market and expect an extended market time. There is a buyer in the pool now or will soon be. If you take it off the market, you may miss them.
Richard Montgomery is the author of "House Money - An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home." He is a real estate industry veteran who advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Find him at DearMonty.com.