There are really only two factors that influence the speed with which your house sells: price and exposure. If your house isn’t selling, one of these things needs improvement.
To help you figure out what your house is worth, your Realtor will generally do a little research to find out what comparable houses in your area are selling for. Regardless of how much you love this property or how much you may have paid for it or what plans you have for the proceeds, the house is worth what it’s worth. If you get an appraisal, it will consider things like location, square footage, condition, room count, land, and amenities to determine the value. There’s no consideration for the price you paid. Although real estate generally increases in value over time, the sad fact may be that the market has shifted and your house is no longer worth what it once was.
One way the market has shifted relates to climate change. Ten years ago, we did not get wildfires and floods as often as we do now. If your house is in a flood plain or a fire zone, it may be difficult or impossible to insure. This can affect the value of the property dramatically. If a buyer must pay $3,500 per year for flood insurance instead of putting that same money toward a mortgage payment, that could reduce the cost of the house that buyer can afford by about $60,000. If the property is uninsurable, an interested buyer may not be able to get a home loan at all.
Overpricing Leads to a Lower Sale Price
Though it is counter-intuitive, when a house is priced more than 10 percent above its value, it is likely to sell for less. Let’s say a property is worth $300,000. If it is listed for $315,000, it will likely sell for about $300,000. If it is listed at $350,000, it is likely to sell for closer to $285,000. My theory is this: if a Realtor knows a property is overpriced, he or she is less likely to show it to prospective buyers. The longer it takes to sell the house, the more likely it is for people to think there’s something wrong with the property and the perceived value drops.
Ultimately, the seller is responsible for choosing a sale price. Smart sellers pay attention to their Realtor’s advice and use market data to make the decision. Once that’s done, sellers should make the property as attractive as possible while the Realtor gets to work marketing the property. When it comes to things you can change about your house to increase its salability, the absolute best return on your time and money is to clean and de-clutter. Once you’ve done that, make sure you have great listing photos. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen photos of homes with garbage cans out front or other easy-to-remedy errors. If you can afford it, consider having your house staged and then hire a professional photographer take photos.
Once you’ve got great photos, your Realtor will list your property on the Multiple Listing Service, put up yard signs, share details with other Realtors, advertise it online and via traditional media, hold open houses, and more. As in most businesses, word of mouth is the most powerful marketing in real estate, and Realtors know people. Not only that, they only get paid when their clients get what they want—a successful transaction.
So, if you want your house to sell quickly, price it right and choose a Realtor who knows how to market it.
If you have questions about getting into real estate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 462-4000. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.