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Selling tips: 7 things to do if your property doesn’t sell

By Georgina Mann
Your house has been dwindling on the market for months, even years, yet nobody wants to bite. What’s going wrong – and more importantly – how can you turn it around?
If your property has been on the market for a long time and you’re just not able to move it, here’s seven things you can do to get out of the rut and get that sold sticker.

1. Refresh your advertising

Most buyers are looking at properties well in advance of purchase. Some research for years. If your listing and promotional details remain unchanged for months on end, your potential buyers will notice – and not notice you as a result.

Shake up your advertising if it’s not working for you as it is.

If you had a picture of the inside, try a shot of the facade from the street. Refresh them several times and test the impact on different people, including some you know and trust to give you an honest opinion.

Consider taking new shots if you others aren’t doing the job. If you had an evening shot, try a day time shot. Get help from professionals who know how to accentuate the positive.

Update your property description and try new ways to sell your place to the uninitiated. Work with your agent and be creative in content and approach.

Think carefully about your target market (if you don’t have one, that’s your first problem to solve…)

Premiere properties receive 15 times more views and 8 times more enquiries than a standard ad. You’ll be throwing hard earned money away if you keep paying for an advertising plan that isn’t delivering.

Vary your tactics and when you see results, press your advantage.

2. Change your price

You’ll pay the price if you end up stubbornly attached to one.

The three most important factors in selling a property are location, presentation, and price.

Price points are psychological triggers. One to five thousands dollars in the right direction can spark interest and make a buyer feel a purchase is possible.

In a stagnant or depressed market, price is incredibly sensitive, and can stop an interested buyer from clicking on your listing or lodging that enquiry.

If you’ve had your property listed for some time, the market will have shifted around it. Your price might have started in the ballpark, but now it’s not tenable. Reassess based on comparable properties in todays market terms and re-advertise at a price buyers can confidently respond to.

Put yourself in the shoes of your buyers and be honest about a reasonable cost. Work with your agent and lower that price as much as you need to.

There’s no point clinging to a price dream if your property sits on the market for another year. If you want, or need to sell, then price to sell in the current market (not the market you originally bought in).

3. Take a break from the market

Three things tend to happen if you keep your property on the market for a long time without a break.

Buyers will make a mental note to avoid it, fearing something is wrong because it’s been hanging around so long.

Or buyers will tune out your property altogether, skimming past it in listings because they’ve seen it so often they’re blind to it.

Three months is often a turning point, when buyers slip comfortably into one of the above scenarios, and you start to get worried.

Though some buyers are on the hunt for a while, each day they’re joined by even more.

If you can afford it, giving your property a rest for a few months means you’ll have a whole new crop of buyers ferreting out their perfect place. They’ll never have met yours, so you’re in with a fresh chance!

4. Give your property a makeover

Get the lowdown from your agent and, if they’re cooperative, buyers who’ve passed on your place. Ask them what turned them off and ask them to be brutally honest. Determine if a refresh is in order.

Ideally you’ll get some specifics that will help you focus any improvements you need to make. It could be the colour of the walls. The lack of decent curb appeal. A garden that feels too high maintenance. A small kitchen. The impression that too much renovation will be needed, or just that the place seemed too messy whenever it was being inspected.

If you haven’t invested in home

staging, try it. The professional eye of a stager or stylist can set you up to appeal to your target market, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Look at low cost, quick facelifts, like a new coat of paint, a better clean up inside, or some attractive plants in the garden.

It might be that a more substantial renovation is needed, and if it will increase your odds of sale and a good price, it’s probably a better alternative than sitting on the market indefinitely.

Weigh up how much you could invest in big improvements and talk to experts about the changes most likely improve your chances of sale. Be careful not to overcapitalise (there are no guarantees), and remember that even a small effort could yield the return you’re looking for.

5. Go comparison shopping

You may have done a ton of homework on selling your house, but forgot to scope out the competition.

  • Work with your agent to get a handle on how your place measures up against similar properties in the area; in architecture and style, price, size, bedroom and bathroom numbers, land and yard area, proximity to amenities, quality of interiors, style of presentation, and everything in between.
  • Attend open inspections and auctions. Talk to other buyers at those homes and gather insights.
  • Don’t just compare the property itself. Have a snoop at how those homes are bring presented, how their open inspections are being run, whether they’re being sold at auction or by private treaty, and anything else that jumps out at you. See what’s popular and what people are talking about.
  • Comparing doesn’t mean making your property conform to everyone else’s. It’s about getting in touch with the reality of the market in your area and price bracket. It’s staying abreast of trends or contexts that might impact your sale.
  • And it’s being able to ask a price you can justify. When you can compare apples with apples, you’re ready to set up shop.

6. Be open to advice

If your property has been languishing on the market for some time, you’ve probably already asked for help. You’ve checked with your agent, or asked family or friends about why they think your place isn’t hooking a new owner.

But you might not be listening, especially if they’re telling you things you might not want to hear.

Ask for advice (if you haven’t yet, now’s the time), and truly be open to it; from your agent, from property experts, from potential buyers and those you trust.

You might not be listening, especially if they’re telling you things you might not want to hear.

Steel yourself for a reality check and commit to taking on constructive suggestions.

7. Don’t lay blame (especially on yourself)

It’s easy to point fingers if your property isn’t living up to expectations. Selling can be highly stressful, and if you’re in a tricky financial spot (e.g. you’ve already purchased another property and are feeling the pressure to sell in a hurry), the tension can be crippling.

Like any stressful situation, getting upset or angry won’t help.

Even if you decide you need to move to a new real estate agent, don’t leave with a grudge or you won’t be fully focused on the new chance to sell your home. An agent and vendor relationship is a two way street and you two may just not have worked as a partnership.

Refocus, take a breath, then re-arm with any new tools or support you need to get back out there.

Taking a break from the market helps get you back on track and stop blame in its tracks.

Stay positive and you’re half way there. Maybe you honestly weren’t ready to sell.

Refocus, take a breath, then re-arm with any new tools or support you need to get back out there. There might only be some small changes to your home and your strategy standing in the way of you and the finish line.

Photos are one of the most important ways buyers connect with and spark interest in your house. Rotate them around and hero a different shot for people to come across first.Buyers will use it’s time on market as a negotiating tool, trying to leverage your desperation and arguing that you should be glad for any offer you get.


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