It’s not an easy time to sell your home.
A little over a year ago, sellers had the upper hand as the real estate market was red-hot and there were plenty of buyers competing for every available property – driving up the price in the process.
But higher mortgage rates, falling property prices and economic uncertainty mean the balance of power has shifted.
Buyers wait and sellers have to work harder to get an offer at the price they want. Now it seems as if gazundering is on the rise.
How much? Realtors say one of the main reasons homes don’t sell is because they’re overpriced
Others find that their property remains on the market for a long time and are faced with the decision of either lowering the price or holding their nerve and risking their offer remaining for even longer.
However, experts say some sellers may not be doing their best. They say there are common reasons why some properties don’t sell that can be relatively easily remedied.
We take a look at five things sellers may be doing wrong in the current market – and what they can do about it.
1. You don’t have a good real estate agent
One of the most important factors when selling your home is having the right agent on your side.
The company you choose should work hard to attract the right buyers to your business – and if they don’t, you can always take your business elsewhere.
Colby Short, co-founder of real estate agent comparison website GetAgent, says: “There are a whole host of reasons why you might be having trouble selling your home, but they often come down to one core factor, and that’s your real estate agent,” he says .
“The best approach is to research the top-performing agent in your area using metrics such as average time to sell, percentage of consistently achieved asking price, and their customer satisfaction rating.”
Short warns against choosing the broker who promises the highest price – or lowest fee – as this can prove to be a false economy.
Agent of Chaos: Bad real estate agents can create unrealistic expectations, which leads to disappointment later when the asking price is not met
“Those are two big red flags because a good agent will rarely compromise on fees and won’t put too much emphasis on it just to win your business,” he says.
He adds that fixed-fee agents who promise to sell a home for a set amount rather than a percentage of the sales price are sometimes best avoided.
“The vast majority of these agents are not actively working to advance your sale other than accepting an offer, and that is actually the most important part of the selling process,” he says.
“Especially in the current market conditions where uncertainty has increased, you need a good agent who will ensure your sale progresses to completion day in and day out.”
Read our guide to the nine questions to ask a real estate agent before hiring them.
2. Your offer price is too high
According to realtors, this is the main reason people have difficulty selling their homes.
Property prices have risen sharply since the pandemic, with annual growth reaching up to 15 percent at times in 2021 and 2022.
This is no longer the case and the latest indices show muted growth or even price declines.
It often happens that sellers initially enter the market with unrealistic price expectations
Experts say home sellers need to adjust to this new reality if they want to sell.
Otherwise, they risk sitting on the market for a long time – making the property appear less attractive to buyers because they will assume there is something wrong with it.
James Forrester, managing director of broker Barrows and Forrester, said: “There is simply not the same buyer glutton there as there was a year ago.”
“It is common for sellers to initially enter the market with an unrealistic price expectation, which can result in their property remaining on the market for weeks with little or no interest.”
“A property can have incredible sentimental value and so it is understandable that this often clouds our judgment.”
“However, today’s market is very different to that of 12 months ago and pricing in line with current market conditions is crucial if you want to secure a sale.”
Tim Dansie, director of Ipswich estate agent Jackson-Stops, adds that even if a buyer agrees to your ambitious price, it can all fall apart later when they apply for a mortgage – potentially unraveling the whole chain.
“One of the realities of a more balanced market is the need for buyers and sellers to find middle ground in pricing,” he says.
“We are clear to buyers when conducting valuations that inflated asking prices can lead to disappointment later.”
“Long chains often rely on a number of mortgages being accepted and completed. In the process, overstated prices are quickly uncovered by lenders who are guided by actual market values, which can risk the collapse of the entire chain.”
“Accepting price adjustments of around 5 to 10 percent right from the start can help secure a buyer, speed up the sales process and avoid last-minute negotiations.”
Clean up: The mess that comes with pets and children can deter some prospective buyers
3. You didn’t spruce it up beforehand
Because buyers have the ability to be picky, it’s more important than ever to present your home in the best possible light.
This not only means keeping the property clean and tidy, but also taking care of any small home improvements that might leave it looking a little rough around the edges.
Seemingly trivial tasks like touching up chipped paint, cleaning windows, and pulling weeds in the driveway can pay off.
“You would be shocked at how many sellers put an unsuitable property on the market and then shake their heads when the buyers aren’t thrilled,” says von Grundherr.
“You need to really showcase your home and all the features it may have.”
“Clutter, clutter, children’s toys, pet hair – these are all things that can create a negative opinion of your property and in the current market you simply cannot afford to deter buyers.”
Pro tip: Realtors say homes should be presented with professional photos
4. The photos are not good enough
Another problem may be that the photos of your home online are not up to date.
Most buyers first encounter your home on a crowded real estate listings website, and standout images can make the difference between a buyer booking a viewing or not.
Make sure they look professional and show all areas of the house inside and out.
“Presentation is key and that starts with your real estate photos.”
“If you market with a few smartphone snapshots instead of professional photos, you are already at a disadvantage,” says von Grundherr.
If your home has been on the market for a while, it’s a good idea to get new pictures that reflect the current season. You can ask your real estate agent to do this.
Looking at photos of a house with the sun shining brightly and a green tree in the yard while it’s snowing outside is a clear indication that it’s been around for a while.
Be nice! Realtors say homeowners can be rude when buyers view the property
5. Potential buyers will be turned off by you
Ultimately, anyone struggling to sell their home must face the unpleasant possibility that the home is not the problem, but the owner.
When you attend viewings, you want to appear friendly, positive and helpful.
Moving can be incredibly stressful and you should show potential buyers that you are not a thorn in their side.
Von Grundherr adds: “In most cases, you are the problem.”
“Most of the time a salesperson will be present during the viewing process and you will be surprised at how often they can be cold, distant, short of breath or even rude.”
“You really need to turn on the charm, and if you can’t, leave the entire viewing process to your agent.”