Why Won't My House Sell?
Objectivity is the key. Whether you are the listing agent or the Seller, it is critical to analyze what will keep or is keeping the house from selling. Once the problem is identified, objectivity is again important when determining the solution.
Begin by analyzing whether the problem is easy to fix. Easy to fix problems include new paint, cleaning carpets, adding a lamp, rearranging furniture, cleaning and streamlining. Hard to fix problems include a major kitchen remodel just to sell the house or trying to create a master suite when there is only one bathroom for two or three bedrooms and the spaces need to be totally reconfigured.
Are there factors beyond the Seller’s control? A house that fronts onto a busy street, a house on a tiny lot in a neighborhood where the lots are large, a quirky floor plan that requires a total remodel are examples of factors beyond the Seller’s control.
Here are the 10 most common reasons your house isn't selling.
1. Over or Under-Improving
Over-improving means making improvements that are in excess of what can be recouped financially within a year.It may be necessary to make changes so a house will sell at all, but be sure the changes do not over-improve the house. For example, if a kitchen must be remodeled and the house is in a moderately priced neighborhood, the remodel should be in line with what else is available.It is possible to spend more money than could ever be recouped.
Under-improving is the opposite side of the coin.If high end is required, pay for high end. Know the trends in the neighborhood. Know when it makes sense to spend more because the area is in transition. This knowledge will keep the improvements appropriate for the market.
2. Architectural Inconsistencies
Look at an older home with an ultra-modern addition pasted on.It can be jarring.In general, architectural style should be consistent.There are exceptions, particularly when an excellent architect has intentionally created a unique property.
Any style home can be updated without compromising architectural integrity. Engage the services of a professional if in doubt.
3. Removing Essentials
There are some homes where all the bedrooms were combined to create one large bedroom. Or, all the bathtubs in the house are removed. Or, when the garage is turned into living space in an area where a garage is critical. If you must turn a garage into living space, be sure it can easily be reconverted back into a garage.
4. Having a Do-It-Yourself Look
Home improvement stores have flourished because they appeal to the do-it-yourself-ers. The problem arises when it looks as if it was done by someone learning. There can be uneven walls, electrical outlets installed backwards, and more.
If a Seller wants to do it herself, the end result must look professional. There will be a home inspection and the inspector will detect any problems, which will inevitably cost the Seller money.
5. Floor Plan Flaws
A floor plan flaw is one where the floor plan does not make sense to most Buyers. If the floor plan cannot be easily corrected, the Seller must realize it could take awhile for the house to sell. Having to go through one bedroom to access another one is a problem.
Turning a dining room into a bedroom is another potential flaw. Quirky floor plans do not sell well. There may be someone who will want the different floor plan, but a Seller wants to make the house appeal to as many Buyers as possible.
6. Too Unique
There are homes where there was only one bedroom created out of an existing three bedrooms, but no one except the Seller wanted that configuration. Or, a very high end house built by a bachelor with a minute kitchen because he did not want to cook. No one wanted to buy it because reconfiguring the space was very challenging.
The goal of home improvement should be for the owner to have what he wants while being aware of what the market likes in the event the house is sold.
7. Underestimating Power of Lighting
Lighting is powerful. Many older homes will increase in value and sell quickly when the lighting was updated. Sometimes the impact of lighting is not obvious. Sellers should visit new homes with good lighting to see the effect.
8. Proper Permits
We recommend extreme caution when making improvements without proper permits. Increasingly, jurisdictions are penalizing people when they try to avoid the permitting process.
There have been sales that fall through when the interested Buyers discover work was completed without a permit. Sellers should be familiar with the codes in their area and, if work is completed without a permit, that must be disclosed as a material fact.
9. Waiting Until Move
Many a seller has regretted waiting until a decision has been made to sell, to make improvements to the home. It is difficult to recoup the cost of the improvement in such a short time frame. So update your home and enjoy it while you live there!
10. Too Much 'On the Cheap'
Cost effective is good; cheap can be a disaster. We actually saw a house where the Sellers wanted to save every penny and painted the walls an ugly 'pumpkinish' because that’s the color that resulted from mixing the remains of various paint colors together.
There is a level of finish that makes a house look like the work was professional. Saving money to make a house look tacky is wasted effort. If a homeowner is uncertain whether the finished product will have the proper look, a third party should be consulted. This can be an interior designer, a friend or a real estate professional.
Learn more in our Preparing a House for Sold course. To purchase this course, visit our Colorado Real Estate Continuing Education page.
Written and Published by: VanEd