The U.S. residential real estate market continues to percolate well into the summer of 2019.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), pending home sales were up 2.8% in June, with a robust economy, low borrowing rates, and strong demand for homes backing that upward trend. The outlook for the remainder of the summer looks solid, too.
“Job growth is doing well, the stock market is near an all-time high and home values are consistently increasing,” says Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. “When you combine that with the incredibly low mortgage rates, it is not surprising to now see homes sales increase.”
Yet below the surface, there’s a subset of homeowners who want to sell their properties, but are finding it hard to do so even in a strong real estate market.
Worse than that, time is running out for these sellers, as the traditionally active summer season starts to wind down, with Labor Day the informal “deadline” for owners to sell a home. (Reasons for that sentiment vary, but many buyers want to settle on a home purchase before Labor Day so they have time to move and get their children ready for school in a new community.)
The fact is, most houses sell within two months on the market during the busy summer selling season, and that’s held true for 2019. According to Realtor.com, the average U.S. home has sold within 58 days of posting that “for sale” sign in the front yard.
But that number may be too high, real estate experts say. Way too high.
“In the busy summer season, a seller should expect an offer within the first two weeks of listing the home,” says Beatrice de Jong, consumer trends expert at Opendoor, an online real estate sales platform. “That said, if the home hasn’t sold within one month, they need to take a second look at what is not working.”
Why your home isn’t selling this summer
If you’re selling your home, and you’re approaching your 60th or even 70th day on the market, without a bite in sight, you have a problem. For one reason or another, your home isn’t selling during a busy time period where offers should be available, if not accumulating.
Chances are, your home isn’t getting those offers for good, yet somehow overlooked, reasons. The good news is there are action steps available to fix the problem and get those offers rolling in.
Here’s a closer look at why your home isn’t selling and what you can do about it.
You’ve priced it too high.
The most common reason for a home to not sell is because of the list price.
“When a house is priced too high, it shows up in less homebuyer’s online feeds and is compared against homes that may be larger or more desirable,” says de Jong. “Before listing a home, sellers should pay attention to what is fresh on the market in the area because those listings will compete for the same buyers. Serious buyers are regularly scouring the internet and waiting for promising, new listings to pop up — and you only get one chance to be that fresh, new listing.”
De Jong says it can be difficult for sellers to separate price from their emotional attachment to a house, making it harder to see the flaws a buyer will likely notice. The trick is to find out what those flaws are, adjust on the fly, and lower prices, if need be, sooner rather than later.
A good rule of thumb is to review the price and change it if fewer than six showings are scheduled in a week’s time, says Amy Kilcoyne, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty Review in Broward County, Florida.
“Make sure when buyers come to see the house it is clean, (in) good repair, and the sellers are NOT present,” Kilcoyne says. “Buyers need to vision the homes as their own, not as a visitor, and BOOM the house will sell.”
There’s not enough access to your home.
Restricting access is where a lot of sellers make mistakes when trying to sell a home.
“Sellers should be hosting as many open houses as possible and accommodating private appointments whenever possible,” says James McGrath, co-founder of Yoreevo, a New York City-based real estate brokerage company.
McGrath says that open houses are key, because people that aren’t quite sold on the property will go to an open house when they won’t reach out for a private appointment. “If buyers don’t see it, now in person, they won’t buy it. Consequently, you need to make sure they can get inside,” he says.
Your house isn’t popping visually to buyers.
If your house doesn’t look like it’s been kept up from the outside, you may be losing the chance for people to come inside to take a look.
“Prospective buyers sometimes drive around neighborhoods to see which properties are available and then decide whether they want to take a look inside,” says Cathy Tarrant, owner of Homestyling by Cathy, a home staging company in St. Johns, Canada. “Think about your landscaping, your windows, and your siding, as well as anything you might have around the door.”
It’s also a good idea to ask your realtor if there’s anything that sticks out as abnormal when showing your home. Or, if you’re selling your home by yourself, ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor the same question.
Warning signs that you have a “curb appeal” problem include fewer inquiries, few confirmed appointments, and an apparent disinterest when a buyer sees your home, Tarrant says.
“Make sure your house is getting visibility online through online listing platforms, that it looks appealing when somebody drives by, and there are plenty of opportunities for people to come and view it if desired,” she notes. “Also, imagine viewing the home as a prospective buyer. Use neutral colors, depersonalize and declutter, and fix all the normal maintenance issues that could be a deterrent.”
You’re unwilling to compromise on price.
This one is short and sweet, but being unwilling to negotiate on price is a big reason why your home isn’t moving, real estate experts say.
“As the owner, you have your price and so does the buyer,” says Kathy Van Duzer, a licensed real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in New York City. “If you refuse to lower your price the buyer may walk.”
You’re not auditing your marketing.
Real estate photos can make or break a listing, says Andrew Helling, editor at REthority.com, in Omaha, Nebraska.
“If your photos were not taken by a professional, take down the listing,” Helling says. “Buyers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on your home, and if you’re not willing to spend $150 hiring a real estate photographer, they’ll wonder what else you skimped on.”
Turning the tide and selling your home
These aren’t the only reasons your home isn’t selling this summer, but they’re among the most prominent ones.
To find out for sure, check each item off your home sale “to-do” list and see if you start getting appointments and offers within a week or two.
Not doing so will only prolong the problem and raise your stress levels as your home stays on the market. After all, in the real estate market, the future really is now — and the clock is ticking against you every time you miss out on a potential buyer because of mistakes made in selling your home.