Relist your house and do it right
Relisting a home isn’t an enviable position for any seller. Something went wrong the first time, and for many sellers, trying again to sell the home raises more questions than answers.
While it’s common for real estate agents to handle relistings, data on just how common the situation is can be hard to come by because some agents pull listings for a week or two and then relist. It’s a tactic designed to make a home listing look fresh. But increasingly, a true relisting is defined as having a 90-day gap between the time the property goes off the market and when it comes back. In that scenario, many real estate agents say it isn’t always price that kept the property from moving.
“When relisting a home, the first objective should be to tackle the questions of why the home was removed from the market in the first place,” says Aaron Mighty, a real estate broker in central Florida. “Clearly, in this economy and recovering housing market, it can be one of many reasons, but the best answer is always the truth, no matter what it may be.”
Listen to broker comments
If you’re relisting your home after three or more months off the market, the best place to start is with a post-mortem on what went wrong the last time.
“Sellers should absolutely consider comments from agents and buyers who saw the listing the first time,” says Paul LeJoy, founder of Pacific Realty Partners in Newark, Calif. “How else do you know how to proceed if you don’t know what has happened thus far?”
After the original listing ends, ask your agent how the market perceived the home. What you hear, LeJoy says, should guide future strategy, especially if a number of agents and buyers raise the same issues. The key to improving your results the second time, according to LeJoy, comes down to the seller’s ability to take constructive criticism.
Consider low-cost improvements
Sellers who plan to relist their homes for sale should consider making low-cost improvements to address concerns raised by buyers the first time. But don’t go overboard, says Cannon Christian, president of Renovation Realty in San Diego.
“Painting, whether interior or exterior, is relatively low-cost and adds a quick revamp to your home,” Christian says. “Another way to improve on a small budget is by cleaning up and trimming landscaping, and adding new, affordable plants. You want the best first impression and curb appeal for your property.”
But that doesn’t mean customizing the property to your tastes. Paint in neutral colors, and avoid making improvements beyond cosmetic changes. Expensive repairs seldom pay for themselves.
Stage it right
Sellers who relist their homes without rethinking staging aren’t setting themselves up for success, according to David Kean, a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“A well-presented house can make all the difference,” says Kean, who advises clients to keep a listing “clean and clear” by decluttering. “If you don’t need something, store it, sell it or give it away,” he says.
That goes for furniture anywhere in the house and unnecessary kitchen appliances. Ditto for the soaps and shampoo bottles that hog space in the bathrooms. Kean says put away personal photos.
“It’s hard for potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home when your photos make them feel as if they are intruding,” Kean says. “If you simply can’t live without your photos, edit them down, and keep them in the master bedroom.”
Lastly, Kean advises clients to air out their homes because every dwelling has a distinct aroma that may not be pleasing to all buyers.
Hire the right agent
You don’t have to use a new real estate agent for your relisting. But if your home didn’t sell, consider hiring someone else to handle the listing. But, says Deb Tomaro, a Re/Max agent in Bloomington, Ind., it’s on the seller to do due diligence.
“My experience when sellers come to me needing to relist their home is that 90 percent of the time it is because they did not interview multiple Realtors, ask the pertinent questions, and pick the right one for their needs,” Tomaro says.
According to Tomaro, Realtors expect sellers to interview them and look at multiple candidates, especially if it’s a relisting situation.
“People tend to pick a Realtor because he’s their parent’s neighbor, or she’s their hair stylist’s cousin, and a lot of times, it doesn’t end up being a good match,” Tomaro says. “What they need to do is ask a lot of questions to make sure the agent is on the same page.”
If it’s a relisting, Tomaro says those questions should address any of the issues that worked against a sale the first time around.
Change the marketing
Marketing is subjective. When you’re trying to sell a home a second time, ask if the previous marketing plan’s ads and photos drove enough prospective buyers to your property.
“If no one was coming through your door, you should absolutely rethink your plan of attack,” says Brad Malow, an agent with Rutenberg Realty in New York City.
A good place to start, says Houston Realtor Sissy Lappin, is with the photos in the old listing.
“Some of the pictures I see on the (multiple listing service) look like a drunk took them with a flip phone,” she says, adding that all sellers need quality pictures in their listings.
In addition to more professional photos, Lappin says it’s critical that sellers make sure their agent markets the property widely online. That means going beyond just listing the property on the multiple listing service and their website because today’s buyers use a range of third-party sites, mobile apps and social media.
Should you reduce the price?
Reduce the asking price? That’s perhaps the most common question sellers face when they return to the market after an unsuccessful first attempt to sell a house.
“A price drop is not always necessary when relisting your home,” Malow says. “It depends on a number of factors. Has the market changed at all? Has there been a drastic drop in inventory? Are you relisting during a seasonal high point? You have to take all of these conditions into account when putting your home back on the market.”
According to Malow, sellers should consider cutting the price if some or many of the market conditions remain the same as when the house was on the market the first time. But for sellers looking for a more basic guideline on pricing, Malow suggests looking at the ratio of buyers who looked at the property to offers made.
“A general rule of thumb is if 40 buyers have seen your home and you have not received a single offer, your home is overpriced,” he says.
Agents say area comparables should guide pricing on a relisting, especially if the home has been off the market for six months or more.