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5 Common Reasons Why Homes Fail to Sell

You hire an agent, spending time and energy getting your home ready for the open market. Then, when your house is ready to officially go up for sale … nothing happens. Anyone selling a property expects 2 specific things to happen: 1) sell quickly, and 2) maximize return on investment. Sometimes both objectives are met, which is great. But sometimes neither is met, which is one of the most frustrating experiences a homeowner can face. If you’ve put your home on the market and failed to close on a sale, there’s good news for you: Listings that expire without a sale typically do so for one of just a few reasons. Here’s a look at 5 of the most common reasons why homes fail to sell.  

Reason #1: High Pricing

Nothing matters more than price when you’re trying to sell a property. It’s possible to underprice a home and leave money on the table, but it’s much more common for sellers to overprice their properties — only to see them languish. Here’s what happens when a home is overpriced: It sits on the market, perhaps garnering a few showings and little else. Then, as the weeks and months pass by, prospective buyers and their agents begin to wonder: What’s wrong with this property? And that’s the last thing you want prospective buyers and their agents wondering. But what’s the proper strategy for pricing a home? Remember that you want to attract as much competition for your home as possible. It’s a good strategy to actually price your home slightly lower than what you think it’s worth. Then, when that lower price draws a lot of interested buyers, you’re like to get an offer for over the asking price.  

Reason #2: Poor Staging

Staging is one of the most overlooked aspects of the sale process. All homeowners spend time decorating rooms and arranging furniture to fit their personal taste and to enhance day-to-day convenience. But home staging is different. It’s not about fitting one person’s personal taste, and it’s definitely not about day-to-day convenience. It’s about presenting a property in its best light, as well as helping prospective buyers picture themselves living in the home. We recently posted a collection of staging tips for fast home sales, but in short, spend time creating spectacular first impressions, clearing away cluttered spaces, balancing rooms, thinning out storage, unleashing natural light and going neutral with colors and décor. You’ll find that small changes can make a big difference when home staging. Rely on the advice of your agent and any staging experts brought in to help.  

Reason #3: Amateur Photography

Unprofessional photography is one of the fastest ways to undermine a home sale. Think about the experience of someone searching for a new home, and you’ll realize just how important high-quality photographs are to the process. Studies show that nearly half of all prospective buyers start their searches online. They are typically using popular real estate listing sites, and they are scrolling through page after page of possibilities — especially in large cities like Chicago. These listings might include nuts-and-bolts information like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage and price. And they will also include a single image. That single image needs to look amazing if a prospective buyer is to click through to learn more. And it takes a professional to create that single amazing image. What exactly can a professional do that an amateur cannot? A professional has the right equipment for taking quality photographs. A professional also knows how to stage and compose shots to maximize natural lighting and space. Plus a professional photographer can also execute important post-production edits that can make your home shine and stand out from the crowd.  

Reason #4: Failed Contracts

In some cases, homes that go under contract also fail to close. In fact, it happens all the time and it’s incredibly frustrating for sellers. Why do contracts sometimes fail to close? Several reasons: Inspections: An inspection is the buyer’s one chance to hire a professional to examine your home in search of red flags. Sometimes inspections turn up minor issues that can be easily remedied. But, in other cases, inspections reveal serious issues with a home’s plumbing, electrical wiring, foundation or another important system or component. Appraisals: Most buyers need a mortgage to afford a home. And lenders want to know that a property can be sold to satisfy the loan balance at any time. If your home appraises for less than the sale price, your buyer’s financing may fall apart. Contingencies: Some home sales are contingent on buyers selling their existing properties. In a hot market, sellers rarely need to accept bids from contingent buyers. But, in tough markets, a contingent sale may be the seller’s best option. The risk in a contingent sale is that your deal falls apart if the buyer fails to sell their existing property for any reason. How can you avoid failed contracts? Be upfront about any issues that might emerge during an inspection. Also, consider repairing any major problems before putting your home on the market. Price your home appropriately from the start to avoid any appraisal issues and choose your buyer carefully. Avoid contingent sales at all costs, and consider choosing all-cash or large-down payment buyers over bids with less down — all-cash and large-down payment buyers are more likely to reach closing.  

Reason #5: Ineffective Agents

Your home is most likely the largest investment you’ll ever make. It’s only natural to want to maximize your return on that investment when it’s time to sell, which is why you need the best possible representation. Some sellers choose a friend or family member to serve as their agent. But sellers need agents who specialize in their neighborhoods and in their specific type of home. Also, a seller needs to be able to have tough conversations with an agent, and it’s much harder to do that with a friend or family member than with someone with whom you have a purely business relationship. In some cases, sellers choose to go the for-sale-by-owner route, a path rife with challenges, and one that rarely leads to selling at a home’s maximum value. Again, a home is the largest investment you will ever make. Doesn’t it make sense to secure expert guidance and support when divesting of that important investment?

It’s Never Too Late to Try Again

If you’re one of the many homeowners who has tried and failed to sell a property, you should know that it’s never too late to try again. Perhaps you made one of the missteps mentioned above, or maybe you made a mistake that’s not listed here. But, rest assured, your home can be back on the market in no time. Each day, the KlopasStratton team works with home sellers throughout the Chicago area. We provide experience, knowledge and a deep commitment to seeing our clients reach their real estate objectives. We also make sure that you avoid making some of the common mistakes that can lead to homes lingering on the market. Are you ready to sell your Chicago-area home? We’re ready to help. Contact us today about selling your home quickly and for its peak value.


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5 Common Reasons Why Homes Fail to Sell