In this overheated market, agents and sellers alike are getting accustomed to the “list on Wednesday, in contract by Sunday” scenario that seems to be the new norm. So when a listing doesn’t sell right away, what’s really going on? It’s not an exact science, but there are myriad reasons some houses linger on the market. Let’s review.
There are a handful of reasons why a particular property just won’t sell. Some of them are obvious to even the most untrained eye, while others aren’t so clear. In no particular order, these include:
- Location. It’s not close enough to the right schools, it’s on a busy road, or it’s next to a cemetery or industrial area.
- Dated aesthetic. Not everyone can look past a tired, dated interior/exterior (which is why the mini makeover can be so valuable).
- Big-ticket expenses. A home that needs a new roof, central air, or any costly upgrade or repair right off the bat can be an immediate turn-off.
- Poor online presence. With their stats tracking views, saves, and even sales histories, third-party sites (think Zillow and Realtor) can lead buyers into false impressions.
- Misleading photos. Amateur photos can spell death to a home that might showcase far better in person. With 99% of listings viewed online, photos can make or break interest. But it’s a fine balance—photos that make a home seem bigger or are filtered to perfection can set high expectations that disappoint in person.
- Inappropriate pricing. It’s a seller’s market, but buyers aren’t stupid and no one wants to be gouged.
- Market adjustments. Even when everything has been done right, adjustments to the real estate market itself can mean a longer listing window. For instance, we’re seeing a slow down in buyer activity that’s historically normal for this time of year, but it’s always possible we’re seeing the beginning of a sea change in prices.
- Particular sellers. Whether they’re emotionally attached or just waiting for the “right person” to make an offer, some sellers are content to wait it out. Still, that doesn’t always mean that you can’t hit them with the right offer at just the right time and crack their resolve to a higher sales price.
A Hidden Opportunity
While many buyers will assume a home that’s lingering on the market has to have some major flaws, the savvy buyer (with an even savvier agent to help guide you) should look for the hidden opportunities in properties that have collected days on the market. If the roof needs replacing, consider the fact that a roof can be relatively easy to replace, and not as expensive as one might assume. It also happens to be one of the most minimally invasive upgrades to accomplish while you live in the home. Compare that to a new foundation, which is fraught with potentially hidden expenses and can be highly invasive and lengthy to complete depending on the home’s particular circumstances. A bad floor plan where some walls can be moved easily can be a great deal, whereas a bad floor plan with structural walls that aren’t easy to relocate is quite a different story.
The point is that homes that have been on the market for a few months or more can turn into exceptional value purchases for the right buyer. It may take some vision, but if you follow the adage about “good bones” and have a great agent to guide you, the rewards can be impressive.
Want a second opinion on a home you’ve been contemplating purchasing? Just ask!