Even in a seller's market, not all homes that are marketed for sale actually sell. Here are the top reasons why homes don’t sell and also what to do to get your home sold.

1) Amateur Photos

Professional photos should be the norm, not the exception, in this industry. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Listings that are advertised with top level professional photography sell for more money and in less time than listings that are not presented in their best light. The key to getting top dollar and selling quickly is differentiation. How do you differentiate?  The simplest answer: Better photos than your competitors. 

Top notch photos = more page views on all media = more interested buyers = more showings = more offers = higher probability of a multiple offer scenario = more money. 

2) Price

It is a seller's market, as I'm sure you've heard. Keep in mind that today's buyers are educated. Value is based on what other buyers have paid for similar products recently, and everyone has the same access to the information that you will use in your pricing strategy. Pricing significantly above market (in fantasy land) will result in your house sitting on the market for an extended period of time. Don't just assume that offers come in at a certain percentage below your listing price and price accordingly.

3) Price Range Errors

People search under certain search parameters when they search online. For example "Homes in Chicago, Illinois priced between $350,000 and $400,000." If you are priced at $401,000, you won't show up in your prospective buyer’s search. Analyze who your prospective buyer will be, and plan an effective price bracket to reach the most people and get the highest price. 

4) No Prior Homework

Many real estate agents and most FSBO sellers fail to check to see if there are any open permits, violations, or additional liens on the property. If the proper research is not completed, your deal can fall through at the worst time. Clouds on the title should be found in advance and cured before marketing. For some unfortunate sellers who improvise with marketing and escrow, the deal ends up falling apart at the last minute - after they have already moved out of the house and arranged to buy a new home.  

An experienced attorney and Realtor can guide you in the right direction to do your due diligence on your home before putting it on the market.


5) No Home Prep

Please, please, please. prep your house BEFORE it goes on the market and photos are taken. This is required unless you want to price at a discount. If you are hiring a Realtor to sell your home, make sure that they coach you on what projects will have the highest return on investment, what people expect for a home in your neighborhood, and which small touches will differentiate your home from the competition. 

Many people choose to list their home “as-is” because they want to sell quickly or with minimal effort. Listing as-is should be an option that you choose, however, and not just “the way to go” because your Realtor told you to get the house listed quickly. 

Some of the easiest improvements a homeowner can do before selling include a thorough cleaning and decluttering. Clean windows (and screens) provide the best view and allow your home to be as bright as possible. Start packing your personal knickknacks and photos early to eliminate clutter - you'll have to pack anyways for the move. 

Also, repair the small projects you've been putting off like loose handles, squeaky doors, unlevel drawers, and find the missing tile. These items will go far with improving curb appeal and are easy on the wallet. 

Thinking of painting? Consider these cost effective colors.

Other improvements can be more costly, but give huge returns on your investment. Discuss larger projects with a local Realtor expert as the market in each neighborhood varies. 

You don’t have to differentiate on price with the right preparation. If your house presents better than the competitors, you are more likely to see multiple offers quickly. 


6) Not Staging to Sell

Think about a home’s presentation through the eyes of a prospective buyer. For buyers, it is easier to visualize the property as a future home. Buyers are more willing to walk through the home that they viewed online after seeing photos of the space that shows oh so well. Focus on presentation will positively impact the value of the home if it is decorated to buyer tastes, and buyers will be more willing to overlook other property faults.

7) Limited Social Media Skills 

Everyone does it, but not everyone knows how to do it right.

If I had to give you my best guess regarding how many Realtors or sellers know how to market on social media effectively, I would say less than 1 in 20 know what to do. The majority of agents have had very few sales directly from social media advertisement.

Few actually boost their posts or ads (paid advertising). Most of them put too much information online, and the potential buyer disqualifies themselves without actually considering the property. Think of online advertising like a movie preview that teases the buyer into communicating with the agent for more details. 

Communication is the key with social media. An agent will have a much better chance of answering questions and giving the benefits of your particular home to a potential seller. If your Realtor is a pro at social media advertising, he/she will know everything about the potential target buyers.

Bottom line, interview agents, and brokers until one proves that he/she knows your housing market exactly.

8) Hiring a Family Member or Friend

More than ninety percent of all Realtors do the same thing - put up a FOR SALE sign, enter the home on the MLS, hold an open house, advertise ineffectively on social media, and make a brochure for the home. And that is a best case. 

Most Realtors engage in PPP: Post on the MLS, Put a sign in the yard and Pray.

In a seller's market, doing these things will likely get your home sold, but not for top dollar in the least amount of time. If the seller is lucky enough to sell the home using these techniques, the length of time for the sale will usually be much longer and the net proceeds will be lower.

Bottom line, don't risk an awkward situation with someone close to you or feel obligated because your 2nd cousin just got his Real Estate License. Interview Realtors until an agent is found that has a marketing plan with proven results and testimonials happy past clients. 

9) Poor Accessibility to View the Home

Sellers should do what they can to make the house show ready at all times and have a plan that allows the home to be viewed with little notice. Make sure that your agent has a system in place to coordinate showings. Ask if they use showing services or some kind of system greater than themselves so that if they are busy, as many Realtors are, there are no hold ups in coordinating showings.

Lock boxes are often most convenient even if you require the listing agent to be present with buyers and their agents. Provide keys to reach all parts of the home including the garage, storage, laundry space, with further details if areas are difficult to access without a special "trick." A predictable schedule helps with scheduling showings. 


Bottom Line: Interview agents to make sure they have a system to sell your house. Confirm they have a proven track record. And always check testimonials from past clients.