5 reasons your home isn't selling
The latest data suggest this is a good time to be selling a home.
Prices continue to go up.
The median sales price for all types of homes was $205,300 in November, which is 5.0% higher than in November 2013. It was the 33rd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.
And the biggest problem in most markets is lack of inventory.
There simply aren't enough quality houses, town homes and condominiums for sale to satisfy all of the buyers. That's why the average home was selling in a very reasonable 60 to 65 days in late 2014.
So if you've had a "For Sale" sign languishing in your yard for more than a couple of months, there's a good chance you're doing something wrong.
Here are 5 top reasons your home isn't selling and what you can do about it.
By Craig Guillot
Interest.com Contributing Editor
Nothing leaves a home languishing on the market longer than an asking price that's too high for the current market.
Start by examining what comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for over the last three to six months, and act accordingly.
Ask no more than 5% to 10% above the previous top selling price, and avoid being the most expensive home currently on the market in your area.
Buyers are looking at the same comps, and you don't want to scare them off before they've even considered your property.
Even if homes are moving quickly in your neighborhood, you want to start with a competitive price, wait until you have multiple offers in hand and then push potential buyers into a bidding war.
You can't value your home based on the astounding prices smaller, less attractive homes supposedly fetch on television shows.
Nor should you use the property values provided by Web sites like Zillow.com. They are not accurate or up-to-date enough to use for something this serious.
"Price point is crucial, and if you don't price it properly, you're pretty much shooting yourself in the foot," says Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist for the National Association of Realtors.
Presentation is critical, and anything that looks old or shabby will need some polishing.
Make the small repairs to put your house in its best condition. Potential buyers will notice a loose, creaking door, running toilet or broken window blind.
Pay close attention to curb appeal by beautifying the front of your home. Refinishing a front door and sprucing up your garden can help make a great first impression.
You'll also want to thoroughly clean your house for each and every showing.
"You'd be surprised how many people don't make their beds, fully clean their bathrooms or have dishes in the sink," says Kathy Braddock, co-founder of Rutenberg Realty in New York City. "(Little things) can leave an impression with people. They want to feel they can live there."
You also should have professional photos taken of your staged house along with a solid online presentation. The first time many buyers will see your home will be on their smartphone or laptop.
Homes with outdated kitchens and bathrooms often sit on the market longer or sell at a lower price.
You may need to make some upgrades, but you also have to be realistic with your time and budget. Sinking $30,000 into a new kitchen to boost its appeal probably isn't a good investment.
"Avoid big projects and do as many small home improvements as you can, especially those you can do on your own with little money," says Erik Reisner, a broker with Mad River Valley Real Estate in Waitsfield, Vermont.
Look for improvements most likely to make your house move-in ready in the eyes of potential buyers, and that will provide the best return for your money.
Remodeling Magazine found that homeowners recoup less than two-thirds of what they spend on improvements when they sell.
The most valuable home improvements include replacing a worn-out front door or dented and faded siding. You won't recoup nearly as much of the cost if you add a sunroom, bathroom or swimming pool.
It's not uncommon for property owners trying to sell their home on their own to make big mistakes in pricing and presentation.
If that "For Sale By Owner" sign has languished on your lawn for months, it might be time to find a good real estate agent to help you move things along.
A good agent knows more about the local market, as well as what buyers in your area value most in the homes they're buying.
Your need an agent who has sold lots of homes in your neighborhood, knows all about the homes you're competing against and will be brutally honest about why your home doesn't show well and what it can realistically fetch.
Real estate agents have every reason to get the highest possible price in a reasonable length of time. Their commission is based on the selling price, and they don't get paid until the sale closes.
Of course, that help will cost you.
The standard commission is 6% of the selling price. While that fee is negotiable, you aren't in a very strong position to demand a discount if you're asking an agent to take on a problem property that hasn't been selling.
Sellers who refuse to depersonalize their property often have a hard time selling it.
Buyers touring your home are trying to figure out how it would look if they were living there.
The more unique and lived-in it looks, the harder it is for them to do that.
That's why everything from the funky sofa in the living room to your hunting trophies on the wall could be a big turn-off for potential buyers.
Get to work making your home appear as clean, neutral and roomy as you possibly can by renting a storage unit and filling it up with as much of your belongings as you can.
Start with family photos and that oversized recliner you have to walk around in the family room. When you feel like there's practically nothing left in the house, you're ready for the next showing.
Evidence of smoking and pets can also be big detractors. Send your dog or cat to stay with friends or relatives when sellers are touring the home. The last thing you want is a barking pooch running around.