sale, no nibbles, what to do?
I've had my house on sale for close to five months. We've had some
traffic but no offers. The feedback we received from our agent and
potential buyers has been positive. What could be the problem? Does
the real estate market usually pick up after summer? -- Miranda
Unless you are simply in a down market with a
limited buying universe, the most common reason a house doesn't
sell is price. Even if your pricing is a little out of line, it
can make a big difference in the time on the market. According to
national data culled by the Texas A & M University Real Estate
Center, a house has a 10-times better chance of selling at an asking
price of 5 percent over market, than one that's priced 15 percent
over market. Compare your listing price to the prices of other homes
in your general neighborhood and categories that are for sale or
have sold. Your agent can help you do this.
Other reasons a home is not selling can include condition,
location, unconventional design or lack of agent motivation. An
"as-is" fixer-upper will obviously reduce your buying
pool, as will a house on a busy street; or in a crime-prone area,
or one with a quirky design. Additionally, luxury homes also tend
to sell slower than midlevel homes, and sometimes you just have
to wait for the right buyer to come along. If you've had buyers
who can't quite qualify for financing, you might consider offering
a lease-option; or rent-to-own alternatives, or even owner financing,
assuming you don't need all of your money immediately.
Sometimes, the problem is your agent. Some will divert
attention to higher-priced homes or to sellers who are offering
full commission, in the event you are offering less than the standard
6 percent. Others are just not aggressive and are slower to follow
up with potential buyers. Some may not level with you for fear of
losing a higher commission should you decide to discount the house,
to move it fast; or they might not want to risk insulting you and
losing your listing -- particularly if you're sticking to your guns
on an inflated price.
But most veteran agents worth their salt have a good
idea why your home isn't moving and will just tell you how to rectify
the problem -- albeit tactfully. If you're not confident in your
agent, consider replacing her, particularly if your listing contract
ends at six months.
As for seasonality, you've missed the peak, which
is generally between late February and early July, when homes can
sell for 2 percent to 3 percent more than the annual average. It
usually tails off to about average between August and early October
but spikes again briefly before Thanksgiving, then dropping 2 percent
to 3 percent below average, in December and January.
Of course, those are only averages and don't take
into account individual market nuances. In this mobile society,
there are home buyers looking year-round. Good luck, and happy selling.