All the signs suggest that we're in a seller's market. By rights, there should be more would-be buyers than houses for sale. Basic rules of supply and demand draw us to the conclusion that, in this market, your home should be selling in a matter of weeks, if not days. Yet here it is, dwindling on the market. Why are buyers not biting and -- more importantly -- how can you turn it around?
These four tips should get your home out of its rut.
1. Refresh Your Advertising
Today's buyers have access to thousands of listings on the internet, and many look at properties well in advance of purchase. Some research the market for years. If your listing and photographs remain unchanged for months on end, your pool of would-be buyers will notice -- and disregard you as a result.
To shake up your advertising, begin by refreshing your photographs. Pictures spark interest, so it pays to get them right. Ask a friend to give you an honest opinion about the quality of your shots. Are they too dark or out of focus; do they show dirty dishcloths on the countertop? If your shots aren't accentuating the positive, have them redone. It's a small investment for potentially huge rewards.
Next, review the language of your promotional material. Work with your agent, if you have one, to come up with new and creative ways to sell your home. Aim your pitch directly at your target market. For example, if you're selling a family home, wax lyrical about the play room, child-friendly yard and great school district. Take a look at your competition, vary your tactics and when the buyers schedule an inspection, press home your advantage.
2. Lower Your Price
Location is one thing, but the two most important factors in selling a property are presentation and price.
No matter what the market is doing, price is a sensitive metric. Financially, buyers put a cap on what they can afford. Psychologically, few buyers look at properties that exceed their financial cap, even if there's scope for a price negotiation, for fear of falling in love with a home that's simply beyond their means.
For sellers, this offers certain marketing advantages. Buyers tend to categorize properties in price bands, for example, $200,000 to $225,000. A downward price shift of just one to five thousand dollars can be enough to spark interest among a whole new price-category of buyers, who feel a purchase is possible.
3. Give Your Property A Face Lift
When a property's not selling, it's time to find out what buyers really think. Solicit feedback. Ask everyone who passes through your doors for their honest opinion -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
You may find that the changes you need to make are relatively small -- a lick of paint perhaps, or a new bath tub. If the feedback's negative without being specific, invest in home staging. The keen eye of a professional stager can capitalize on your chances of sale for comparatively little cost.
4. Take A Break From the Market
This sounds counterintuitive, but three things tend to happen when you keep your property on the market for a long time without generating a buzz. First, buyers will avoid it. A classic example of group think, buyers typically discount homes that linger on the market because they assume that other buyers have seen them and discounted them for some reason. Second, clever buyers will leverage your misery as a negotiating tool, and hit you with a low ball offer. Third, buyers will pass you over completely, because they've seen your listing so often it becomes part of the background.
If you can, take your property off the market for a few months. Use the time to refresh your decor, your price point and your marketing campaign and, by the time you're ready to re-list, a whole new batch of buyers will be waiting for you.
Above all, remember to stay positive. Everything sells in the end.