Why Didn’t My House Sell? Questions & answers for frustrated homeowners.
When your home has been listed for sale and remains unsold, most people end up feeling frustrated and even angry. Now there is a new resource online for owners of unsold homes. www.whydidntmyhousesell.info is a website designed to provide homeowners with ideas and answers and help guide you through the process of evaluating what went wrong and where to go from here.
If you are not in the mood to talk with a real estate agent and would prefer to take some time for yourself, this is the perfect place to start.
The Tao of Home Selling Series is not about mystic secrets to selling your home. The word Tao literally means “way” or “path.” My experience has shown me that there is more emotion and psychology involved in the choices of home buyers than most people realize. As a home seller, you can use this knowledge to help guide home buyers down the path to choosing your home.
You need to make potential home buyers feel WELCOME, CONFIDENT, and COMFORTABLE. Create an environment where these three conditions are met and you will be well on your way to a successful home sale.
You can find details of actions you can take to create the first 2 conditions in the first 2 parts of this series:
Now let’s look at the third and final condition involved in guiding potential buyers to your home above all others.
How To Make Buyers Feel Comfortable
Once buyers are feeling welcome and confident about your home, they can start to feel comfortable. The idea is to get them to start visualizing themselves living in your home. Follow these tips and potential buyers will be measuring for curtains and planning their furniture arrangement.
- Take a moment to check the traffic flow of each room. Can buyers move around freely from room to room, or do they have to step around furniture or clutter?
- Remove extra furniture. Don’t be afraid of empty corners or spaces. This leaves room for buyers to picture their own items in the room. If every wall is lined with furniture, it gives the impression that there is not enough room.
- Paint rooms with a neutral color. This provides a “blank slate” for the buyers to imagine their own decorating taste rather than yours.
- Remove everything from the refrigerator and kitchen counters.
- Make sure every room has a purpose. Clear out your “catch-all room” and set it up as an extra bedroom or office. Remember, buyers are not going to see the potential until you show it to them.
- Clear out closets and cabinets. Overstuffed storage areas give the impression that you don’t have enough storage.
- Remove knick knacks and excess wall decorations. A good rule of thumb is no more than 3 items on any surface.*Last, but not least, be sure that you keep the temperature of your home at a comfortable level. A toasty home in the winter invites potential buyers to spend more time and makes them feel much more comfortable. Likewise, a cool home in the summer will create this condition.
Bringing It All Together
The amount of work needed really depends on your starting point. Ultimately, you are in control. You can choose to follow these suggestions or not depending on your own unique situation. Not everyone is in a position to make all of these improvements to the condition of their home. If you do nothing else, I would suggest that you at least clean thoroughly and de-clutter. Whatever your decision, be sure to focus on the prime rule of successful home sales: Location, condition, and price must be in sync.
The Tao of Home Selling Series is not about mystic secrets to selling your home. The word Tao literally means “way” or “path.” My experience has shown me that there is more emotion and psychology involved in the choices of home buyers than most people realize. As a home seller, you can use this knowledge to help guide home buyers down the path to choosing your home. You need to make potential home buyers feel WELCOME, CONFIDENT, and COMFORTABLE. Create an environment where these three conditions are met and you will be well on your way to a successful home sale.
Yesterday, I detailed the first condition: Making Buyers Feel Welcome. Today, we will look at real actions you can take right now to help buyers feel confident about choosing your home and making a solid offer.
How To Make Buyers Feel Confident
In order to get top dollar for your home, buyers need to feel confident about the condition of your home’s systems and structure. If they have doubts about the heating system, roof, foundation, or other major systems, they will move on or start subtracting from their offer anticipating needed repairs. Most buyers tend to subtract twice the amount of the actual cost of a repair.
Here is the interesting part. Buyers will make assumptions (good and bad) about the condition of your home’s major systems based on other things they see in the home. If a home is clean and tidy, buyers will assume the major systems have been maintained properly whether they have or not. On the flip side, you may have always maintained all of the major systems in your home, but if the basement is full of cobwebs, there are dirty light switch plates, missing outlet covers, or the foundation can not be seen due to piles of boxes, buyers will assume that you have not maintained your home. Their offer, if they make one, will reflect their assumptions about your home’s condition.
If you have actual known problems, be sure to disclose them upfront and provide professional estimates for needed repairs. This will prevent the buyers from over estimating the cost and help them to feel confident that you are being honest with them about the condition of the home.
- Clean or replace light switch and outlet covers.
- Touch up chipped or flaking paint on trim and moldings.
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Replace any non working light bulbs.
- Make sure all windows and doors are functional and make any needed repairs.
- CLEAN. Nothing says that your home has been well-maintained like a clean and tidy home.
- Dust off your furnace and sweep out the basement.
- Remove all cobwebs and debris inside and out.
- Re-organize to eliminate the need for extension cords.
- Attend to the “honey-do” list. Don’t leave any unfinished projects.
- Label the circuits in your electrical box. Buyers LOVE this!…and yes, they will look.
- Clean out the cabinets under all of your sinks and wash the drain pipes if needed.
- Consider replacing dated light fixtures. *Enlist the help of a professional if needed.
- A fresh coat of paint can make the oldest of homes feel new again.
Read on for part III: How To Make Buyers Feel Comfortable.
We all know the phrase “location, location, location.” This may be a truism in real estate, but you cannot change the location of your home. You actually do have control over the greatest variable…your home’s condition. The condition of your home can add or subtract thousands from your bottom line. Condition can be the reason your home is chosen before others on the market. If you want to get top dollar for your home, then the condition must be in sync with the price and location.
Fortunately, there are MANY things you can do to improve the condition and appeal of your home.
De-clutter the yard by removing toys and excess or broken lawn furniture.
Cut the grass, rake the leaves, trim the bushes, and plant fresh flowers to add color (as the seasons allow.) Keep snow and ice cleared off the driveway and walkways.
- Paint doors and window trim with a fresh updated color.
Patch holes in the driveway and re-apply sealant as needed.
Wash windows and screens.
- Literally add a “welcome” mat. You’d be amazed at how much this means to buyers.
- Make sure the front entry light works and is free of cobwebs and other debris.
- Make sure the front door and door knob are clean and in good repair.
- Make sure the interior front entry area is clear of extra furniture, coats, shoes, and other clutter. Buyers are coming into your home with their Realtor and often a few extra family members. If everyone feels crowded as they enter, they will not feel welcome and comfortable.
- Open all of the blinds and curtains to let the sun shine in.
- If light switches are difficult to find or confusing, turn them on before you leave your home in the morning.
- Remove excess or over-sized furniture. Uncrowded rooms feel more spacious and welcoming.
- De-personalize your home. Too much memorabilia and too many family photos make buyers feel as if they are intruding. You want them to start thinking of your home as theirs.
Read on to Part II: How to make buyers feel confident.
“I think I’ll wait until spring to list my home for sale. After all, that is really the best time to sell a home.”
As a local Realtor®, I hear this statement from homeowners regularly. If you truly want to sell your home in the summer or fall, then waiting until spring may be the best choice for you. However, please do not wait because you think it will be easier to sell your home in the spring, or that you will get a better price. This is a common misconception.
Many people do look at homes in the spring and summer months. However, all of the people who look at homes are not home buyers. Spring has a way of raising spirits, instilling hope, and inspiring people to think about their dreams for the future. For many, this includes buying a home, or perhaps moving to a new town. Hopes and dreams can often move ahead of realities and many of the folks touring homes are not actually able or ready to make an offer or purchase a home.
You can wait until spring and there will be more potential buyers, but there will also be a much higher number of homes on the market to compete with yours, in large part due to the commonly held belief stated above. Pricing will need to be even more aggressive in order to make your home the best deal for buyers when it is one in a sea of choices available.
In contrast, the buyers who are looking at homes in the winter are generally in a position where they need to purchase a home. They are serious and not interested in spending every weekend sightseeing and viewing homes for fun. Basically, they are ready, willing, and able buyers. Since many people have taken their homes off the market, waiting for spring, there is less competition for the homes that are currently listed for sale.
Wait for spring if that fits better into your plans, but please don’t buy into the myth that spring is the “best” time to sell your home. People buy and sell homes 12 months out of the year. Each season brings it’s own challenges and opportunities, but there is no one “best” season for home sales. The best time to sell is when YOU want to sell your home.
I have spoken with many home owners who want to sell their home, but feel they must complete those long overdue renovations before they put their home on the market in order to get top dollar. If this sounds like you, please read on before you make that costly trip to the local home store.
Despite the promises and claims of some renovation companies, the top 3 projects you can complete that will have the best return on your investment and have the biggest impact on the sale of your home are actually the cheapest to complete. They may not be as flashy as a new kitchen or bathroom, but they will get you to your goal of a successful home sale quicker and with less headaches, AND you will recoup more money than you spend.
Chances are this big “industry secret” is something you already know in the back of your mind. You have decided to sell your home and you have also decided that you are willing to do what it takes to get top dollar and be sure that yours is the home that sells quickly. The irony here is that what it takes is much simpler than many of us think, so here they are...your top 3 profit making projects.
1. Start Packing!
After all, you will be moving. The time to start packing away your extra items, knick knacks, out of season clothing, and all of those items you have accumulated is actually BEFORE you put your home on the market. This will really open up your home and make it feel more spacious and welcoming to prospective buyers. We are not going for an empty house here, but one with room to move about in, open counter space, and room in the closets and cabinets.
Even if you have tons of closets and cabinets in your home, if they are stuffed to the brim, buyers will get the feeling that there is not enough storage space in the home. If every wall and surface is covered with photos and decorations, the home will feel cramped no matter how large the rooms are. A good rule of thumb used by stagers and designers is no more than 3 items on any surface. Buyers will also be more able to start picturing themselves in the home if they are not staring at your family photos and your personal treasures.
Don’t forget about the garage, basement, or that “catch all” room you tend to put things in. If you have the space, stack the boxes neatly against one wall. If you don’t have extra room, talk with family or friends about storing your items. Renting a small storage space is even a good idea. The small monthly cost of the storage unit will be worth it when your home sells more quickly and for more money.
Not just any cleaning. Clean like your mother in law is coming! Now that you have packed away the items you will not need in the immediate future, this job will be easier. This will be a traditional “spring cleaning” no matter what season it is. Now is the time to vacuum every corner, clean out under the sinks, get those marks off the baseboard and doors, clean off the switch plates, around the light fixtures, and make those windows and floors shine. Cleaning the carpets can also breath new life into them and remove any unwanted smells. The simple act of a thorough cleaning gives the buyer the impression that the home has been well maintained. A cluttered or dirty home makes a potential buyer worry about what they may not be seeing. A clean and uncluttered home gives the buyer confidence that the home (and all its systems) has been taken care of.
3. Paint with neutral colors.
Nothing spruces up a home like a fresh coat of paint. Your daughter has enjoyed her bright purple room, and you may love your neon orange bathroom, but potential buyers look at this and see more work for themselves. A move in ready home will sell more quickly and for more money than one that will require scraping, patching, and painting. A fresh coat of medium tan may seem boring to you, but it is a welcome and calming sight to buyers. If your ceilings look a bit dingy, don’t forget to freshen them up with a coat of white ceiling paint. This is the only project in the top 3 that will require a small investment beyond your own time and energy. However, the return received for the cost of a few cans of paint, some brushes, and drop cloths is tremendous.
There you have it! These top 3 projects will bring you a much larger return on investment than any well intentioned home renovation project. Tackle these three and you will not only sell your home quicker and for more money, but you will also have saved yourself thousands in renovation costs that you can then use on your new home so that you will be the ones to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
The simple answer is that you wouldn’t knowingly do this. Sometimes we all need a ref to step in and remind us of the rules of the game. In real estate, it is really not rules and a game, but rather strategy that is important. Maybe a good coach would be a start!
Here is my list of the top 10 things sellers can do to KEEP THEIR HOME FROM SELLING. Please feel free to add to the list. If you see yourself in any of these lines, give me a call or check out Getting It Sold.
1. Forget about the little things and small maintenance repairs. Buyers will just need to “see the potential.”
2. Keep everything in the home as it is. After all, I love my purple living room and I spent a lot of time hanging 100 baskets on my wall. That wall of family photos and all of my knick knacks are special to me. I know someone else will love my decorating as much as I do.
3. Let the housekeeping go. I’m trying to plan a move and I still live here. I just don’t have time to keep the house Beaver Cleaver clean. I know buyers will understand.
4. Keep the scuffed floors and dirty carpets. Buyers will just be happy to have hardwood floors. I don’t need to clean the carpets or shine up the floors.
5. Let the jungle grow. I’ve mentally moved on to my new home and don’t have time to keep the lawn trimmed or water the grass. That will be the new owner’s problem.
6. Shove all your excess items in the already overloaded closets and stack those boxes in the garage. Buyers can step through – I left a little pathway.
7. Control those showings. Showings are limited to between 5 and 6pm on weekdays, 2-3pm on Saturdays and every other Sunday. My home is gorgeous – buyers will just have to re-arrange their schedules.
8. Make a pricey renovation just before listing your home and just tack on the cost of it to your listing price.
9. List your home at least $15,000 above what the Realtor recommends. Buyers will love it anyway and know they can negotiate the price.
10. Hire the agent with the lowest commission. Any agent can get my house sold since it is so wonderful.
Again, no one lists their home and consciously tried to keep it from selling, but the traps listed above are easy to fall into. A competent Realtor can guide you through the process and help you achieve a successful sale quicker and for top dollar.
Give me a call to request the more useful list of 10 Ways To Sell Your Home Faster And For Top Dollar.
or give me at call at 207-689-9880
If you are thinking of selling your Maine home this fall or winter chances are friends and family may have already told you that this is not the time to sell your home. However, Maine Realtors® know a few secrets about our Fall and Winter real estate market.
First and foremost, people DO buy and sell homes between October and May.
Fall and winter home buyers here in Maine tend to be more serious and determined. Spring and Summer attract many people who are just tossing around the idea of buying, but haven’t yet committed to the idea or made sure they are qualified. Fall and winter home buyers have committed to purchasing a home and tend to have a goal and time frame in mind. Many are relocating for a job or other family reasons and NEED to buy a home.
Your home will have less competition in the Fall and Winter. Like the “just curious” buyers who look around at houses for fun, the Maine summer real estate market is packed with sellers who decided to put their home on the market to “see if it will sell.” The Maine home sellers who do not need to sell their homes or are not as serious about moving tend to take their homes off the market early in the fall. This clears out the inventory available to buyers and drastically reduces your home’s competition.
Lastly, as we all know so well, Maine is absolutely gorgeous in the fall! People travel from all over the country to Maine just to look at our beautiful fall display of color. Nothing gets people in that cozy “at home” mood like the crisp fall air, colorful trees, and the smell of fires in the wood stoves.
If you want to sell your Maine home this fall, but have been concerned about starting at this time of year, give me a call. I’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss the best way to prepare your home for a fall sale.
As we head through fall and into winter, keep in mind that a toasty Maine home is a comfy Maine home…and a home that sells.
You are planning to sell your Maine home. You have tackled your to do list, spiffied up, cleaned as if your mother in-law is coming for a visit, and are ready to get a Realtor and let the showings begin!
Nothing says “HOME” like a toasty house complete with a fire in the woodstove, pellet stove, or fireplace. If you have a showing scheduled, be sure to open all interior doors, turn on the lights, open the curtains, and put some logs on the fire. (be sure of course to observe all safety precautions*)
Keep in mind that most buyers are looking at several comparable homes on the same day. They have been driving around with their agent and walking through the cold. Many times, they are also viewing some vacant bank owned homes with NO heat.
Just imagine the difference your toasty home will showcase.
Behind door #1 we have a lovely, but empty and very cold house. The buyers like the layout and the price, but aren’t that anxious to spend too much time in the house. Why? Because “it just doesn’t feel like home.”
Behind door #2 we have another lovely home, not vacant, but the sellers turned the heat way down, closed all the doors, and left all the lights off to conserve energy since they were not home at the time. Again, the buyers like it “OK,” but it just doesn’t grab their attention.
Now, after slogging through the damp cold, they approach door #3! This time, they open the door, to find a well-lit and welcoming home and are instantly enveloped in WARMTH! This draws them in as they go from room to well-lit & welcoming room.
Which one do you think will “feel like home?”
Never underestimate the importance of making potential buyers feel at home.
*safety note: If you have a fireplace, be sure to check on your fire after the showing.