You’ve put your place on the market but months later you still haven’t had any offers and you can’t figure out why it hasn’t sold. We asked some real estate experts to come up with the main reasons some properties languish on the market.
Photo: Frances Andrijich
The most obvious reason a property does not sell is because the price is too high. Fiona Hellams, licensed real estate agent at Ray White in Drummoyne, Sydney, says an unrealistic reserve price will often be why a property fails to sell at auction. “This can be caused by a lack of communication from the agent, a price guide being too high or sudden changes to the market such as elections, rate rises or changes to zoning.”
“Just because a similar home sold for a certain amount three months ago doesn’t mean that your property is worth the same,” says Damien Sienkiewicz, senior sales consultant of Beller Real Estate, in Melbourne. “The market is constantly changing and three months is a quarter of a year. Especially in a falling market, most vendors and their agents reduce prices to meet the market too late and end up chasing the market down. This normally results in a lower sale price than a vendor who responds to the market.”
Advertising the highest price in the area won’t necessarily attract the best buyer, says Jay Peters, director and licensee of Harcourts JP Elite Group, in Sydney. But “advertising a price guide with a lower scale will encourage more buyers and actually provide some competition between buyers when they all show up to an open house.”
Too much noise nearby will put off potential buyers. “A property situated on a train line or a major car thoroughfare with heavy traffic and a shopping strip can present a selling challenge as people have a preconceived idea that it will be noisy,” says Stasi Adgemis, director of hockingstuart, Doncaster, Melbourne.
Adgemis says he always recommends to vendors and local developers that they install double-glazed windows and invest in thick, quality doors to block out the sound. “This shows potential buyers when they come to visit the home that there is a long-term solution to manage the noise and that the home is in fact comfortable to live in.”
“Poorly presented, under or partly renovated properties or properties needing repairs can deter buyers,” says Peters.
Sienkiewicz agrees. “With the younger generation of buyers purchasing a bigger proportion of the properties each year, you need to tailor your sale to them. The internet is the biggest source of buyer inquiries but there is always a sea of properties online at any time so you must ensure yours stands out.”
“Where possible a coat of paint and a good clean always helps but also inquire into getting a stylist through to help you with your presentation or to fully furnish vacant properties to give it that wow factor,” says Sienkiewicz.
Poor street appeal
Most buyers will do a drive-by past a home they are interested in before inspecting it, says Sienkiewicz. “If your gardens are dry and unloved, weatherboards are rotting or front door is hanging off its hinges, most buyers will keep on driving and won’t bother to inspect the interior. First impressions last.”
If you can’t do it yourself, hire a handyman to tidy the front of the property and any gardens.
Building works in the neighbourhood
Building works commencing in the street during the marketing campaign or neighbouring properties under construction will definitely put off buyers, says Hellams.
Do your research to find out what building works are coming up and when and try to time your sale to avoid the disruption.
Too many similar properties for sale in the area will affect the speed of your sale, and may even affect the price when you do sell.
While this is beyond the control of home sellers, if you are in a position to hold off putting your property on the market until there is less competition, it is worth considering. Otherwise, speak to your agent about ways you can set your house apart from the pack.
Choice of agent
Sometimes it isn’t your home that is the problem, it’s the agent says Sienkiewicz. “A good agent will give you a realistic price with comparable sales to back them up, handle all the marketing to ensure the property is presented in the best light and you should have a sale in a reasonable amount of time. A good agent will also build rapport with the buyers and know who the serious candidates are. However there are cheap agents out there and like everything in life, you get what you pay for.”
“When you are selecting your agent, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest or the most expensive, go for the best,” says Sienkiewicz. “The one who you feel will do the best thing by you. I have seen a lot of people lose tens of thousands of dollars on a sale price just in order to save a couple of thousand on commission.”
House to block proportion
“These days, many builders will put the biggest house on the smallest block,” says Peters. “Now this may be all well and good if you want low-maintenance yards but many buyers looking for a family home want space for their kids to enjoy the outdoors, entertain their family and friends and enjoy some downtime. We have many buyers saying the house is ideal but the yard is not. It is all about what the particular buyer is looking for and how that home is marketed.”
Target your market. “If it is a small block with little yard space, it may be perfect for that buyer who has little to no time to spend on maintenance so it should be marketed to those buyers,” says Peters.
You need a strong marketing campaign to reach every potential buyer and achieve a successful sale. Don’t do your own marketing or settle for photos that portray your property in an unflattering way.
“Make sure you have professional photographs taken of the property and a property video highlighting your house’s key selling points,” says Peters. “Make sure your agent markets your home through all avenues. At JP Elite we use several marketing avenues from print to social media as well as the major real estate websites and through our database of clients. With technology playing a major part in today’s society the biggest avenue would be social media.”