Many home sellers are finding themselves heading into the Fall and Winter months with their house still on the market. “Why?” They ask, “My home is wonderful and I love it, why doesn’t someone else? Why are we missing the bullseye?”
Denver real estate is very segmented right now with some segments selling much better than others.
Many home sellers are on their second or even third listing agent and have reduced their price along the way. They’re wondering where they go from here. Even wondering if they should remove their house from the market through the winter.
Market trends dictate that sellers need to be calculating in how they approach the sale of their house. Here are my top 5 suggestions for sellers to keep in mind:
1) Get a New Market Analysis – when real estate prices are trending down you’re in a very different position than when prices are flat. If you get a new market analysis every 5-8 weeks, you can discern what’s been happening with actual sales in your area. If you see prices continuing to deflate then you need to get in front of that rock that’s rolling downhill. Price reductions putting you just behind the rock won’t help you move into first place for buyers.
If the prices seem to be remaining flat, then you can adjust your price to that place and then leave it there. Pay attention to other factors that will move you into first place and keep getting a new market study every month or two. Remember, prices of homes currently available on the market don’t count when comparing prices.
Avoid “pricing entitlement” – a friend just coined that term and it fits. Sellers need to realize that their house is a commodity that goes up and down (more up than down for sure). If you’re willing to look at stocks as an investment and recognize that sometimes you sell up and sometimes you sell down, why is it so difficult to recognize that this can happen to a real estate investment too? You aren’t entitled to a price, the market will tell you what the house is worth. You can choose to sell or to hold on for a price upswing, but you can’t change market perception.
2) Consider Staging – if you’re living in your house while it’s on the market, you’d be amazed what a staging specialist can do with your own belongings to make the house pop. A fresh eye on furniture placement, some added decorative items and massive de-cluttering can completely transform a property.
If your house is vacant, you should investigate professional staging. The addition of classy furniture adds warmth and pizzaz to an empty house. Staging can add up if you’re paying a monthly fee, but there are ways to economize – like staging main rooms and leaving secondary rooms unstaged.
3) Re-Frame From the Curb – are you missing showings that were scheduled, but they skipped coming in? Then you may have to act like a movie director and look at your house from the street to see what’s going on. Be critical – act like you’re a buyer and this isn’t your house yet. What do you see? If there is chipped or peeling paint, if the front door is dirty, if the grass or shrubs are dead (or they block the front) you’ll need to give some attention to the maintenance of the exterior of your house.
Washing the windows will add sparkle that isn’t overt, but still makes a difference. Buyers like to look out through clean and clear windows. Dirty windows add a dingy feeling to an otherwise nice property. You can hire a window washer, or buy one of the spray products that screw onto a hose.
4) Paint the interior – I like colorful walls, and have several rooms in my house painted in color. That probably isn’t the best way to show a house. Neutral (with a little spark so it’s not boring) is much better. If you already have fairly neutral walls, but they haven’t been painted in over two years, then re-paint again. Fresh paint makes a world of difference in a buyer’s attitude about a house. If you have white walls, that’s just as bad as having too much color. White is harsh and cold – it doesn’t add a feeling of warmth to a house.
5) Have Your House Ready – too many sellers get preparedness fatigue after a few months on the market. They’re sick of living in a show home, tired of picking up and harassing the kids, and want to leave the bed unmade for just one day. Discipline yourself – don’t fall into this trap! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into cluttered and unprepared homes with buyers lately. It amazes me that sellers would let their guard down when there is so much competition. Can some buyers look past this and see the house for what it is? Sure, a few can. Is that a risk you want to take?
Keep things in perspective, keep a positive attitude and remember that there’s an ass for every saddle! Your saddle just needs to be in first place on a buyer’s list.