Why Isn’t My Halifax Home Selling?

Richard Payne
Richard Payne
Published on August 14, 2018

Listing your Halifax home for sale can be an overwhelming, exciting and emotional experience all at the same time.  But what happens when your home doesn’t sell?  You can imagine all the positive emotions quickly turn to negatives – disappointment, anger, blame, wonder and bewilderment. 

These emotions are only natural when your house doesn’t sell.  After all, this is your home.  You’ve poured blood, sweat and possibly tears into your home.  You’ve made forever memories inside this property.  This is possibly the place where you brought home your first child; relocated to and started a new life and made new best friends; or, raised your children.  The list of good feelings about your home are endless.  You’ve accepted that it is time to move, for whatever reason.  You’ve offered your Halifax home to the public and nobody wanted it?! 

Now, put your emotions aside and think of your house as a product for sale.  Once your home is listed, it becomes a market product.  It is no longer “your home.”  When listed for sale, it is no different than, say, a new car.  You are now in the business of selling a house.  You have competition.  The selling process should become strictly business.

YOUR HOME ISN’T SELLING BECAUSE YOU ARE OVERPRICED

The number one reason that a house doesn’t sell is the price. When selling your house, it is important to price it objectively. That is hard for many sellers, because they have an emotional attachment to their home (which is perfectly understandable), and they tend to price it too high.  Remember, there is no better time to sell your home than the first few days or weeks on the market.  This is what we refer to as the “golden time” in the real estate business.  There will never be more excitement or interest in your listing than the first 30 days.

Real Data Isn’t Lying to You

There is no conspiracy against you when your home doesn’t sell.  The market/public has simply said that your home is not worth paying what you are asking.  Your home might be taking time to sell because it’s not in keeping with the other “types” or styles of homes in the area.

As a seller, you must trust the experts and look at the comparable sold properties and data in an objective manner.  Buyers will.  I find with every year that goes by with the internet, and with the vast amount information and resources available, buyers become more and more educated about prices and home values in areas where they want to buy.  Any good agent should present you with tangible numbers as hard evidence to why they suggest a certain list price for your home. 

Reality Check: Are You Being Honest with Yourself?

When your Halifax home isn’t selling, you may be guilty of lying to yourself.  Here’s what I mean – you’re not being honest with yourself about the comparable properties.  Your emotions have gotten the best of you and you’re suddenly seeing your house as the equivalent of bigger, nicer homes.   I’ll give you an example.  Since you’re reading this article and the example below doesn’t personally involve your home, you’ll most likely see it with an unbiased opinion.

Example – House A was built in 2004.  The home has 3500 square feet with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a two car garage and a finished basement.  The kitchen has not been updated.  The original counters are in the kitchen from 2004 and they are Corian.  The appliances are mismatched.  Some of the appliances are stainless while others are black.  Some of the original, hardwood flooring has been sanded and stained a light color while other parts of the hardwoods are their original color with a darker tone.  None of the bathrooms have been updated and the master still includes outdated fixtures.  The exterior landscaping is builder grade.

House B was built around the same year and is within the same neighbourhood.  The home is approximately 400 square feet larger because it has a media room in addition to the finished basement.  The house has five bedrooms and three plus one bathrooms.  The kitchen has been completely redone, has all stainless appliances, stone counters and new fixtures.  All the hardwood flooring within House B matches.  This property also has a three car garage versus the two car garage of House A.  The exterior of the home has been professionally landscaped and the curb appeal is excellent. The master bathroom is a true retreat.

Which house is more appealing to buyers?  In your opinion, are these comparable homes?  The seller of House A believed these were comparable properties and, as such, wanted House A to be priced similarly to House B.  The owner of House A wanted the same price per square foot as House B.

House B was under contract within a few days.  House A did not sell as a result of the owners misleading themselves as to the value of their property.  They wanted to believe their home was as nice as House B.  It simply wasn’t the case.

You’re Setting Yourself Up for Disappointment

If you price your home too high and you do not receive an offer, most sellers begin to reduce the price of their home until it sells which can create a free fall and downward spiral to where the seller begins to receive low-ball offers on their property.  

Once you start reducing the price of your home, it invites low-ball offers because a buyer sees you as more “desperate” to get rid of your home.  If you price the home reasonably, you may end up with more money in your pocket in the end than you would with a price too high followed by multiple subsequent price reductions. 

True Market Value is what buyers are willing to pay for your home

YOUR HOME DID NOT SELL BECAUSE IT NEEDS TOO MUCH WORK

When people are selling their house, they loath putting too much money into it, because they feel they will never see the return on their investment. In some cases, that is true. If you renovate your kitchen before you sell, you may not get a full return. As a matter of fact, you will probably lose money. However, renovating the kitchen (or other improvements) do have major benefits as well.  The days on market will decrease and sale’s price to list price ratio will almost always be higher in the end.  Improving your home will NEVER hurt your value.

When It Doesn’t Sell, Start Looking Inward

On the other hand, a fresh coat of paint in certain areas may allow you to see nice returns on your money. Yes, there are fixers-uppers out there that sell (generally at a wholesale price), but the type of people searching for flips love finding a great deal, and they may not be willing to pay what you are wanting. If you are looking to maximize your profit, it is better to target people who are looking for the convenience of a “turn key property” and are willing to spend a little bit of extra money in order to obtain it.

As a general rule of thumb, buyers are lazy.  With several years of experience in real estate, I can promise that buyers are generally beaten down by the end of a home transaction.  So doing work on a home they purchase becomes less and less of a desirable option in their minds.  Buyers want “turn key,” or as close to “turn key” as possible.  I would estimate that fewer than 10% of buyers I represent really want to do much work on a new home.  

Speaking of a fresh coat of paint, I would advise you to check out a few new construction open houses.  Take note as to the paint colors builders use in their homes.  Remember, builders sell to the masses so they use soft, neutral paint tones to attract the largest number of possible buyers to their projects.  They do this on purpose.  They don’t choose paint colors at random.  Most builders actually use licensed, professional designers as consultants to their paint choices.  This is strictly a business to builders so they do mostly the right things to sell a home.  

Your home should mirror builder paint colors when it is time to sell.  Purple, green, pink, polka dotted, striped paint and old wall paper just yells “WORK” to potential buyers.  If you don’t want to do the work to fix these issues, what makes you think potential buyers want to do the work?  Buyers don’t want the work and they will not do the work.  They will simply move onto the next listing.

YOUR HOUSE DIDN’T SELL BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T FLEXIBLE ENOUGH

When you are listing your home for sale, it is not going to be convenient.  Agents will want to show your home at seemingly the most inopportune times.  Get used to it and accept that fact.  Remember, your mindset should be – We are open for business!

You’re Making it Really Hard on Buyers

If a house is not being shown to prospects, then it will not get sold. This is one of the golden rules of real estate. If you are only showing your house by appointment or at strict, designated times, then you may be damaging your potential to make a sale.  You are making it too difficult for potential buyers to see your home and fall in love with it.  If you’re guilty of doing this, you need to ask yourself an honest question, “do I really want to sell his house?”  If you don’t want to sell, that’s fine.  But just going through the motions won’t cut it and you’re just wasting everyone’s time – including yours.

While thinking of your house a product for sale on the market, think of things you purchase as a consumer.  Put yourself on the other side of the situation.  Amazon Prime has changed the way we shop by making it incredibly easy on you as a consumer.  Amazon saves our login usernames & passwords, credit card information, shipping address and even suggests purchases to “make your life easier.”  I know what you’re thinking – “they’re just trying to sell me stuff by suggesting items.”  Yes, they are.  However, I promise that a large majority of us, as consumers, have been on Amazon (or another trusted website) and ended up buying something extra the site suggested to us.

For bigger purchases, car dealers are open early until late for service and sales.  By making it easy and convenient on you, car dealers know that you can surely fit time into your schedule to visit the dealer when you’re in the market for a new vehicle.

Why would you make it hard on potential buyers to get access to your “product?”

You’re Acting Like You Don’t Care if it Sells

Your house needs to be clean and ready for prospects at all times. No matter how you want to slice it, showing off your house frequently is priority number one.  Clean your kitchen, put away your products in the bathrooms, don’t leave the hairdryer hanging over the sink, fold your towels, make your bed.  In essence, your house should look like a luxury hotel room.  What kind of impression would you get of a luxury hotel if the beds didn’t look fresh and clean when you walked into the room?  See your house through the eyes of the consumer.

Declining showings on your home leaves a bad taste in the mouths of buyers.  Buyers are emotional and if you decline their showing, they take it personally.  They shouldn’t, but they do.  I cannot tell you how many buyers I’ve had in the past who will not go back to a home if their original showing request is declined.

Your Personal Rules Are Preventing Your Home From Selling

Another thing I tell all of my home seller clients, “Do not require me (the listing agent) to be at every showing.”  Most homes are sold by another agent (besides the listing agent) bringing the buyer to the property.  When you require me to be at the showings, the buyers will feel pressured.  I make this analogy to my seller clients… when you walk onto a dealership lot to buy a car, do you want a salesperson rushing up to you immediately?  Most people answer “no.”  That’s exactly how buyers feel when they look at your home if your representative (me, the listing agent) is present.  

If you require your agent to be at every showing, the buyers will not talk freely with their agent, they will not stay at your home as long, and they will not like the pressured feeling they get just from the listing agent’s presence. 

YOUR HOME DID NOT SELL BECAUSE IT WASN’T MARKETED WELL

The power of words and photos are amazing. This stuff matters. Large companies like Apple, spend millions of dollars on copywriting and photography, and for good reason. You would be remiss to ignore these elements.

Your Agent Might Not Be Doing Enough

I used to think I took good pictures of homes.  I have a very nice camera and tripod.  HOWEVER, professional photographers put my photos to shame.  I now use professional home and real estate photographers for every home I list.  I eat the cost as part of my listing package.  I cannot urge you strongly enough to get professional photographs of your listing prior to putting it on MLS.

Some agents are very guilty of trying to save a few bucks when they list a house by still refusing to use professional photographers.  If you go right now and search listings online, you’ll definitely begin to notice the difference between photographs taken by agents versus professional photographs.  They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and this could not be more correct when it comes to online home listings and photographs in particular.

When your listing is shown side-by-side with thousands of other listings, you want it to grab attention.  Nothing hurts your listing like bad photographs.  

Your Agent Didn’t Leverage Social Media = Home Not Selling

Social media has become a fantastic way to advertise listings.  I actually build individual, advertising campaigns for my listings and they generally attract around 2-3,000 views per listing.  Using this method, my listing get in front of my target market from day 1 and many of the listings are sold within just a few days.  Everywhere you look today, you will see people’s faces almost lodged into their cell phones.  Most of the people are checking out their social media and keeping up with friends.  Why not place your home right in front of their eyes and where they’re looking (social media)?

According to Expandedramblings.com, 936,000,000 people per day log onto Facebook.  Why in the world wouldn’t you put your home front & centre for that kind of audience?  I already do this type of social media marketing for my listings and I can attest that the results are nothing short of amazing!

YOUR HOME ISN’T SELLING BECAUSE YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO YOUR AGENT

You aren’t listening to your agent, plain and simple. Your agent is most likely suggesting price reductions to try and get your home sold.  Good agents will have data and can present this factual data to you with an explanation as to why the agent feels like a reduction is what is best for you at this point.

Your Agent Isn’t Secretly Working Against You

Your agent is not trying to “give your house away.”  That’s a common statement made by sellers when their house has been on the market for longer than the average.  If your house has been sitting longer than the average in the area, you’ve got a problem.  Blaming the agent is natural but in most cases incorrect.  This is why you hired the agent you did – to solve these types of problems.  This is their job.  It might suit you to actually listen to their advice, even if it isn’t the advice you want to hear.  Don’t try and fight/argue with your agent as to why you don’t feel the data is correct.  The proof is in the pudding; your home is not selling.  When you are resistant to change, yet the home isn’t selling, your arguments are weak.

At this point, ask your agent for updated market stats (if the agent has not already volunteered this information) including the average stats for the area, current absorption rates and anything else your agent can provide.  Look at the numbers from an impartial mindset.  It’s time to come to terms with what your home is really worth.  If you’re honest with yourself, you can make a rational decision as to how to proceed.  Maybe you decide not to sell at this point.  That’s your decision, but at least treat yourself fairly. 

YOUR HOUSE DIDN’T SELL BECAUSE YOUR AGENT DIDN’T TELL YOU THE TRUTH

If an agent is tap dancing around issues, they aren’t doing you any favors.  I’m often stuck between a rock and hard place by either telling sellers what they want to hear, or telling them what the market will say about their home.  It isn’t an easy position because many sellers have deep-rooted emotional attachments to their houses.  And there is a big difference between a house and a home.  I get it.

Agents do not want to lose listings and, moreover, commissions.  Therefore, a lot of agents get stuck in the trap of trying to appease the seller to keep the listing, while knowing that there is a good chance the home will not sell at its current price, bad curb appeal, lack of marketing, etc.  These agents are what we call the “list and pray” agents.  This means they list the property and pray for a buyer to come along and make an offer that the seller is willing to accept.  These listings have a very high percentage of failure.

Most of the agents using the “list and pray” method are inexperienced on how to truly list and market your home for success.  In addition, most of these types of agents don’t have a true “plan of attack” as to what works.  

If you want to be a successful seller, find an agent who presents you with a real plan to sell your home.  Address all of the issues above with your potential agent and listen to their answers.  Don’t be too quick to dismiss the agent who is honest with you.  Don’t be angry if an agent tells you that your home needs work or that the home needs to be listed for less than you think it is worth.  If the agent has hard evidence proving their point, they may just be right.  

If you are interested in listing your home the right way in Halifax, Nova Scotia, please contact me and I’ll be only too happy to discuss the above with you. 

 



 

 

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