Property

This wasn’t the plan: Five helpful strategies for if your house doesn’t sell

Michael Yardney /

It all sounded so simple. “Let’s move house,” you said.

So, you tidied up the garden, gave the walls a fresh coat of paint and listed your property for sale.

And you waited, and waited, and if you’re reading this, chances are you’re still waiting for that elusive buyer to come along with a big fat cheque, so you can hand over the keys and skip off into the sunset.

Getting your property sold comes down to the three Ps: presentation, promotion and price. If no buyers are biting, there’s a problem with one or more of these.

So, if your property hasn’t sold, don’t lose hope. Try these tips instead.

1. Analyse your agent

Don’t underestimate the importance of having an excellent agent — one who is a great negotiator and an expert in the local market.

Trying to save a few dollars by listing with the cheapest agency is a false economy, as your home is likely to languish on the market for longer, and the eventual selling price could be less than impressive.

The cheapest agent is the one who sells your property for the highest price, not the one with the lowest commission.

You need an agent who will nail the promotion of your property, can give you pointers to improve presentation and can read the market to help you decide on a suitable price.

If yours isn’t on top of the three Ps, find a new one who is.

2. Is your marketing off-target?

Modern real estate advertising is centred on online listings, so if your property is suited to a retired couple, you might not be reaching them through this medium.

Likewise, a busy professional who rarely drives through the back streets is unlikely to notice your impressive signboard.

Effective promotion of your property is possibly the most important thing to focus on, because without it, nobody will notice how beautifully presented it is or how reasonable the price seems.

Rather than just concentrating on the big two property portals, why not promote it on a smaller property portal where your property will get to a new audience and not get lost in the crowd.

And if your current strategies aren’t working, why not try sharing the listing on social media and ask your friends to do the same.

3. Look at the numbers

It’s possible your property is priced too high, scaring buyers away.

Prospective buyers tend to limit their search by increments of $50,000 to $100,000, so dropping the asking price to $899,000 or even $849,000 will mean you could attract a whole new group of speculators.

The same goes for listing at an unusual price — it creates intrigue, drawing buyers to your property over others.

4. Put in on the backburner

Real estate is a game of timing, and it might be that now just isn’t your time.

Instead of spending thousands making improvements to the property, or jazzing up your advertising, consider putting off the sale for a short period of time.

Take a look at the state of the market.

What’s the auction clearance rate like?

Is the local market flooded with similar properties, perhaps priced a little lower or looking a little better than yours?

Has buyer confidence plummeted, thanks to factors beyond your control?

If this is the case, it might be better to wait. Once your property has been on the market for about 90 days, buyers become suspicious and wonder why it hasn’t sold.

It’s near-impossible to recover from this kind of stagnation, so often the best option is to withdraw the property from sale and re-list later, for a fresh start.

You may not even need to lift a finger or spend a time during that period, and if you’re lucky, the market will have even helped improve the valuation!

5. Don’t be afraid to ask ‘why?’

It seems obvious, but few sellers actually bother to ask their selling agents exactly what has turned potential buyers off purchasing the property.

Until you know what the issues are, how can you resolve them?

If it’s something you can’t change, like a noisy freeway right on your doorstep, maybe you can sweeten the deal in other ways, such as dropping the price.

If it’s a cheap, easy fix, such as painting or flooring, you should be able to rectify it, and if it’s a bigger issue, you can weigh up whether you’re better off sinking more funds to sort it, or accepting a lower price so you can move on quickly and without the hassle.

NOW READ: “Should I buy now or wait?”: A property Q&A for first-home buyers and investors

NOW READ: Could mixed-use retail real estate be your next property investment?

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Michael Yardney

Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author, one of Australia's leading experts in wealth creation through property and writes the Property Update blog.

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