Is Your House Not Selling? Here Are 4 Major Reasons Why

A typical modern American house for sale.
MikeCanada / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The real estate market during the past year and a half has seen tremendous growth.Thanks to historically low mortgage rates, and over 15.9 million people moving between February 2020 and July 2020, houses are selling at record rates. More than 7.1 million home sales were completed in the year 2021, which was the highest number of sales in the past decade. Consequently, houses were on the market for less time than usual. Though 30 days is usually about how long it takes for a home to sell, Zillow reported homes selling after just 25 days on average in 2020. 

It’s only natural to want to get in on the action in such a hot market. But, maybe you’ve put your home up for sale and you’re not getting any bites. You know the timing isn’t the problem, so what else could it be? Here are a few reasons behind why your home might be sitting on the market. 

The “Entitlement Effect”

If you’ve lived in a house for a while, chances are you’ve become emotionally attached to it. You’ve celebrated holidays, raised kids, and achieved big milestones, all while living in a space that you’ve developed a fondness for. That fondness might have caused you to overlook some of the quirkier parts of the house (read: hard to sell), and simultaneously caused you to overprice the home. This was described as the “Entitlement Effect” by Richard Thaler, a Nobel laureate economist. 

The best way to fairly assess your home is to compare it with other similar homes in the area. Similar means the same number of bedrooms, roughly the same square footage, and about the same number and value of “selling points” like a view or a pool. If you feel you can’t fairly do this, bring in the experts. Hire a realtor who you trust to take a fair look at the property and price it accordingly with similar homes.

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No Curb Appeal

It’s a harsh reality, but even if you’ve sunk thousands of dollars into renovations, if your home looks unkempt and run down when people drive by, they’re not going to want to give it a second look most of the time. If your property has spent over 30 days on the market, it might be time to examine how it looks to passersby. This can even be as small as moving objects left in the yard or on the porch. For example, if your family typically takes off their shoes on the porch, those piles of shoes can be taking away from the beauty of the porch itself. Same goes for big toys, broken chairs or any other items left out on the front lawn.

Other culprits of poor curb appeal can be landscaping and paint. While hiring a gardener can help an overgrown garden, that can be expensive. Simply spending a day trimming weeds and mowing the lawn will work wonders. During the fall and winter, make sure all leaves are swept up and snow piles aren’t blocking any views or entrances. As far as paint goes, putting a fresh coat on the front of the house can greatly boost curb appeal. Additionally, if your home has a unique mural, or bright colors, it’s best to neutralize the home as much as possible. Painting over the mural (as sad as that might be to do) and repainting the home to a more neutral color will help increase the chances of the house selling. 

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It’s Poorly Staged

It seems weird that someone would care about furniture in a home when they won’t even have it when they move in, but how a home is staged or presented on the inside can really influence a buyer. If you haven’t moved out of the home yet, do your best to make sure it’s as clean and visually pleasing as possible. This means cutting down on clutter, making every bed in the home, cleaning all countertops, and the like. If you have already moved it, maybe you don’t think staging the home is worth it, but reports say staged homes sell for between 1-5 percent more than vacant ones. A well-staged home adds warmth, letting potential buyers’ imaginations run wild, and truly picture themselves in the home. Conversely, bad staging can take away from the home itself, and make buyers think there’s something wrong with it, when it’s just a matter of mismatched furniture. 

Your Listing Photos Aren’t Great

Almost half of buyers look online for homes before they look anywhere else. If your online listing has no photos or blurry, non-professional photos, buyers aren’t going to want to see the house. Like staging, pictures allow potential buyers to get a feel for the home and picture themselves in it. If the pictures don’t properly showcase the beauty of the property, people aren’t going to be able to see it. Spring for a professional photographer if your realtor doesn’t provide one, or at the very best, take clear, crisp photos that aren’t blown out by the sun and encapsulate all the house has to offer. 

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