When you’ve listed a home and it doesn’t sell, what do you tell your client?
Before you talk to the client, it’s probably best if you ask yourself why the house hasn’t sold. There can be all sorts of reasons, including:
It’s overpriced – This is a fixable problem assuming the financing will allow a price reduction without going into a short sale. It may be helpful for you to remember how the house got overpriced in the first place. If for example you are wrong about the comps, you simply need to own up to the fact. On the other hand if the owner bullied you into listing at a price you knew wouldn’t sell you’ve got a different situation you hands. It may make sense to let the listing expire and drop the client.
It’s underpriced – It rarely happens, but a property that’s badly underpriced can scare buyers away. You know already if that’s an issue or not, and if it is you can help seller raise the price.
It’s ugly – Of course the term, ugly, is a matter of taste and strictly in the eye of the beholder. But if the house is very unusual, particularly for its neighborhood, it may be a problem to sell. In this case you can can work with the seller to make the price and terms more attractive, or just urge patience.
It needs major cleaning – It’s really hard to sell a house that’s dirty. Mostly you’ll get low-ball offers from the potential investors which may be okay. You can strongly recommended that the seller higher the cleaning crew for both inside and out, but sometimes the owner is just so overwhelmed they can’t deal with something like this. This narrow your choices. ideas might include asking them to move out for a month and getting the house cleaned, lowering the price, adding X dollars to pay for cleaning on close escrow, etc.
It’s in the wrong location – You can’t move the home so if it’s in the wrong location or in and that undesirable location about all you can do is recommend the seller work with price and terms.
It’s overbuilt for its neighborhood – It’s surprising how often this happens. The homeowner decides to do a major renovation and the house ends up being over built for its neighborhood.
We’ve all seen examples. Sometimes a second story is added and it’s the only second story for umpteen blocks. It sometimes decoration is added to the home that just makes it inappropriate for the neighborhood. If the home is the only one in miles it has a swimming pool is probably not going to recapture the investment in that pool when it finally does sell.
Again your seller’s options are really two make the price and terms more favorable; that usually means a smaller return on investment.
Ideally you’ll have addressed each of these and many other things that are likely to slow the sale of a home while you are listing it. If that’s not the case you can admit your mistake and have a frank discussion with the seller about what can be done to improve the odds of selling the home in a reasonable time. Being honest while not always easy is likely to get the best results.
Another truth is sometimes a house just doesn’t sell. It may seem to be priced right, it shows reasonably well. The neighborhood is stable, there’s nothing majorly wrong with the house physically or aesthetically. When this happens there really is no explanation. Sometimes raising or lowering the price can help. It may be however that the house needs to come off the market for 90 days or even six months.
As an agent you need to be careful in getting too caught up in the sale of any particular home, especially when the home isn’t selling the way you think it should be. You won’t sell every house you list and every house list will not be sold. It’s a fact of life. Judge carefully how much spent time you’re spending on each listing.
And always tell your client the truth is you see.
Before Anne Wayman became a writer she sold real estate in Southern California. She worked with her father who learned the business from his father. Not surprisingly she learned a few things along the way. Since then, she has been freelance writing for over 30 years – she is a grandmother, loves cats and writes about a wide variety of topics including real estate.