Selling November 1, 2020

My House Did Not Sell, Now What?

The Seven Step Guide to Re-Launching your Unsold or Failed Real Estate Listing

As a Realtor, I sometimes run into discouraged sellers who listed their homes months ago and they wonder why their house is still sitting on the market or the listing expired without prospective buyers beating down their door. The sellers’ plan to move has been interrupted and the stress is starting to build. Not only has their house not sold, but oftentimes the unsold home has impeded their plans to buy another home or they are already carrying two mortgages. Sound familiar? Not to worry! With this seven-step plan, we can get that listing back on track and sold as quickly as possible.

Step 1: Get the Right Mindset

The first step in reviewing a failed listing is to put your bruised ego aside and approach the situation objectively. You need to forget about all the weekend projects, holiday dinners, and where little Johnny took his first steps. The potential buyers do not have the same fond memories in this home, yet. You need to make sure your judgment is not clouded by any good (or bad) memories within the home and you are approaching the selling process with a high level of objectivity.

Step 2: Review your Photographs

Now that you have the right mindset, go back and look at the photos for your listing. As you are reviewing the photos ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there enough photos? The standard listing should have between 20-25 photos to give buyers a good representation of the property without overloading them.
  • Are the photos professional quality? Using a smartphone or tablet will generate unprofessional results and will turn off potential buyers before they ever step foot on your property. Buyers are also turned off by blurry, crooked, poorly lit, and poorly composed images.
  • Are the photos staged well? The home should be clutter-free during the photo shoot. All personal items, including hygiene products, should not be in the images. Pets or evidence of pets should never be in photographs. Photographs of bathrooms are discouraged unless there is a redeeming feature or something unique about the room. If you do include a photo of the bathroom, make sure you put the toilet lid down!
  • Were the photos taken at the best time of day? Seek to highlight your property during the time of day that has the best light for the particular shots you are taking. Yes, this means you may need to schedule the photographer twice in order to have exterior photos taken when the sun can be at the photographer’s back.
  • Are the photos current to the season you are trying to sell in? If it is the middle of summer and you still have photos with snow on the ground or your Christmas tree in the window, you are not doing yourself any favors. Enough said.
  • Have you included any photos to showcase the lifestyle and community? You can use photos to elicit feelings and excitement about the community and lifestyle. Add those photos of the beach, golf course, charcuterie plate on the back deck. It all helps potential buyers to picture themselves living in the property and giving them the connection to your home.
  • Last of all, are your images representative of reality? While it is great to generate excitement for your listing using fantastic photography, you want to make sure that a buyer does not have higher expectations than your property can deliver in person. When the photographer is doing touch-ups, you want to make sure the use of filters and adding light is done in a tasteful and realistic manner. We have all seen the photos that are “too good to be real;” do not let your listing photos get added to that list.
  • Videos should follow similar guidelines and should be professionally videotaped and edited.

Step 3: Read your Property Description

Now that your pictures are in order, go back and read your listing as a buyer would read it. Is the write-up descriptive? Will the listing make the buyer want to move right in or is it a cold and uninspired description of the house specs? The purpose of the writeup is to help the prospective buyers imagine themselves living in the space, not explain information that is already captured elsewhere in the listing.

Step 4: Gather Honest Feedback

Assuming you had buyers tour the property or your Realtor held open houses, you should review the agent feedback you received from each prospective buyer. Oftentimes in the written agent feedback, buyer agents will not want to be negative, so it is worth having your Realtor call the buyer agents in order to gather more candid feedback. Your Realtor should ask what the buyers liked and did not like about the property and why they decided against putting in an offer.

Compare your home to others that have sold or gone pending in the area. Call the agents on those transactions and ask what the buyers found appealing about those properties. Armed with the information of what buyers liked and disliked, you can accentuate positive features of your home and eliminate or reduce the impact of negative features.

Step 5: Price Competitively

Before you ask anyone else’s opinion, walk through your home as a buyer would and ask yourself the question: how much would I honestly pay for this house? It gives you a good “gut check” to see if you are out of line with your pricing. If your number is lower than what it was listed for, you know part of your problem.

You will also want to perform a new Comparative Market Analysis (“CMA”) (request one here for free) in order to re-evaluate your listing. The market could be shifting and the balance between buyers and sellers may have changed since you initially listed. There may be external factors that have changed the home-buying landscape and impacted prices due to a change in buying power as a result of changes in interest rates, increased tax rates, or re-mapping of flood zones, to name a few.

Once armed with a new CMA, it is time to price your home aggressively in order to generate interest. A new property on the market generates a high level of interest within the first week of listing. Unfortunately, your chance to make a first impression is gone and you need to re-engage buyers that have likely forgotten or stopped caring about your listing. You do this by giving them a reason to re-engage and making your offering too good to be ignored.

Step 6: Market Effectively

First, you or your agent will want to review the current marketing mix for the failed listing: What portals were you on? What online ads did you run? Did you advertise in print? Go back to every one of these listings and review it for accuracy and how it presented your property. Identify which outlets generated leads and which were a waste.

Next, you will want to make a plan for the re-launch:

  • Place a clean professional “For Sale” sign in the yard.
  • Plan an open house the first weekend the house is re-launched and invite all the neighbors. They may know someone that wants to move into the area. Confirm all the major real estate search tools advertise your open house.
  • Have your agent email your new listing to all contacts in their database to drive additional interest.
  • Canvas the neighborhood with “Just Listed” postcards and advertise in community publications.
  • Have your agent create an email marketing campaign and send to other agents who are working with buyers in the area.
  • Submit the house to the broker housing tour.
  • Launch a targeted advertising campaign on Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets.
  • Create a video walk-through and post it to the MLS, Youtube, and social media sites.
  • Ensure your agent posted the property to your multiple listing service (“MLS”) and it has syndicated to all other real estate affiliated websites.

Step 7: Nail Every Showing

This is it; you finally have interested buyers coming through your property because you followed all the other steps correctly. Now it is time to stick the landing! You cannot change how the showings went in the past but you can change how they will happen from here on. Start off by reviewing what you did to prepare for visitors before a property showing. Did you prepare for visitors or just walk out the door?

Research shows that 35% of a buyer’s impression is accounted for by cleanliness, clutter, and odors. Could any of these impeded the sale? The best way to ensure a favorable showing is the make a plan with a checklist that will address the following:

  • Will the photos represent reality when a buyer walks into the home for a showing? While you have already learned how to take accurately representative photos in step 2, sometimes life gets in the way. You need to make sure the photos will inevitably look similar to the way the property is marketed. You should make sure the beds are made, there is no dirty laundry on the floor, evidence of pets and children are removed, and clutter is kept down.
  • Turn on all the lights and open window shades so the space will be cheerful and bright. Although your agent should get there before a showing to ensure this is all done, you should not leave anything up to chance.
  • Are there weird spaces or is the house empty? Consider staging to help buyers visualize the space and fall in love with how the house can look. Additionally, a staged home that is nicely appointed gives the impression that the home is well maintained.
  • What additional information will buyers want about the property? Create a “home book” on display with key information about the property. Include property details, utility information, a map with local area and attractions, improvements performed on the property, and plot map, etc.
  • Create a high-quality flyer as a takeaway so buyers remember your property.

Bonus: Get a Fresh Start

If all of the above sounds like a great plan but you do not think your real estate agent is up to the task, you should consider making a change. Call today at 508.314.6098 to get your house sold! If you want to request a comparative market analysis but do not have time to talk right now, request a home evaluation here!