Especially during a ‘hot’ real estate market, it’s understandable how some homesellers may wonder “Why isn’t our house selling?” Some homesellers wait longingly, certain that if the sale of their property is ‘meant to be,’ a buyer will appear. But now, given a plethora of ways to gauge the popularity and market-friendliness of any listed home for sale, you can stop waiting for your house to sell. Listen to this helpful podcast episode here.
Why? Because while some real estate factors that can affect how long it takes your home to sell are difficult to change, there are certain key ‘levers’ an expert Realtor can help sellers ‘pull’ to get the job done and sell their house sooner…and without leaving extra money at the closing table.
Three Steps to An Oregon Home Sale
If you’re currently a frustrated homeseller whose property is languishing on the market, unsold, this episode is especially for you. But whether you’re simply contemplating a home sale, or are already well underway in the process, before you examine your best options, it’s helpful to first determine at what phase in the homeselling process you currently find yourself. That’s because the specific factors that lend themselves to your situation can be affected by your position in the market. By position, we’re not only talking about price range and property type, because if your home is already for sale, you’re likely in one of three steps, or ‘gears.’ These include ‘first gear,’ where you receive online activity, ‘second gear,’ when showings occur, or ‘third gear,’ which is when offers appear. For more information, click here for the helpful article & podcast titled ‘3 Steps to an Oregon Home Sale.’
A good place to start in your home sale journey is by listing your property with a Realtor proficient in effective marketing. This can include (but isn’t limited to) professional photography, complete multiple listing coverage, plus extensive promotion across marketing venues using targeted niches. With those key factors addressed, here are some ‘levers’ that sellers can use to ‘jumpstart’ buyer activity.
Section I: More Flexible Factors for Homesellers
Some homeselling factors are easier to address than others. In this first section, let’s start with those easiest to work with:
We begin with ‘curb appeal.’ Realtor surveys consistently show that a majority of homebuyers won’t even go inside if they don’t find a property appealing from outside. Make sure your house looks it’s best from the street. For example, landscaping should be appealing, with obvious deferred maintenance like mismatched or peeling paint, missing shingles and malfunctioning gutters addressed. Inside, consider a good house cleaning. ‘Light and bright’ are helpful watchwords. And if clutter is your problem, a yard sale, trip to Goodwill to donate unneeded items and even a storage unit can all help to provide a sense of enlarging and tidying up your home to heighten appeal.
It’s also helpful to remember that most buyers aren’t contractors. So unless property condition is already ‘baked into’ the price, buyers will be calculating the retail cost of having such repairs done…that is, if they have the vision to see through the condition in the first place. Many buyers simply won’t. And for those who do have some vision, by leaving much work to be completed, you’re handing prospective buyers a sledgehammer to use in pounding on your price.
Correct pricing ‘cures all ills.’ It’s helpful to understand that homebuyers, particularly those who are already homeowners, will perform research. As you travel up the housing ‘food chain,’ expect second, third and fourth time buyers to have a sophistication and familiarity with the process and what’s non-negotiable to them.
More experienced buyers tour more than a few homes in a given price range and after a relatively short time are pretty much ‘up to speed’ on the market. If your home is priced over what the market will bear, expect few offers and few showings, as well. If you’ve tested the market and aren’t getting much action, consider a price reduction. That’s because by your not receiving many showings or offers, understand that the market is speaking…by remaining silent.
There’s a saying ‘Paint, properly applied, is worth $1,000 a gallon.’ Whether it’s paint or other components that are very worn or dated, the same principle can apply to carpet and other areas of your home. One oft-considered question is if re-flooring a home will pay for itself. Not all changes will, so because the answer can vary depending on several factors, consult your Realtor for professional input on your specific situation.
It’s reasonable to expect that activity can sometimes depend not only on your price, but also your price range. That’s because the buyer pool for ‘starter homes’ is relatively plentiful and includes residential customers, investors and landlords. The buyer pool for multi-million dollar properties, while significant, tends to be smaller, frequently with specific tastes and preferences. Regardless of the price range, buyers will appear as your price approaches the actual market value. Just remember the definition of market value:
the amount for which something can be sold on a given market.
Terms of Endearment
A few of the more usual homebuyer terms include cash, along with conventional, FHA & VA loans. One other powerful option sure to reach some added buyers is called ‘seller financing’ also known as ‘owner carryback’ or ‘seller terms.’ This is where the seller takes payments and ‘plays the bank.’ If the home you’re selling is owned ‘free and clear’ with no existing loan on it, you may be a candidate for seller financing. Learn more about seller financing at this helpful website.
Open Up Your Terms For a Bigger Slice of the Buyer Pie
How could expanding terms offered make a difference in selling your house? Simple. The more options you provide, the greater your potential for a larger slice of the buyer pie. Think of it this way. Some buyers don’t have all cash, or a 20% down payment or even a 10% down payment. But given various government underwritten loans, they still may be able to buy your property. That’s because certain loan options, like FHA, VA and USDA are programs that make it easier on the buyer, some with very little down. As a result, by opening up the number of prospective buyers, you enhance your odds of a home sale. There is a greater chance of finding a buyer, given a larger number of prospective purchasers able to get a home loan.
Section II: Less Flexible Factors for Homesellers
Unlike the above factors, here are some of the more difficult seller factors to change:
This one’s a biggie. Unless you’re selling a truly mobile home, your options are more limited in this area. That’s because location is what helps define ‘real estate.’ Location includes factors like view, waterfrontage, fronting a busy road or highway, school or park. For some buyers, access to public transportation is helpful, or even a must. Most locations will have pluses and minuses to different buyers. When comparing homes, buyers also frequently ‘trade-off’ certain factors, including location. For example, while a home may be located closer to where a buyer works, if it’s on a busier than average street, some buyers will opt for proximity to work, while others who want less traffic will decide to keep looking.
While removing a non-weight bearing wall may ‘open up’ the feel of a room or floor, a home’s floorplan and room flow is one of the more challenging changes homesellers can make. One reason is because it can be expensive and another is because it may not make enough difference within a given price range and buyer group. Another trade off is in what’s lost. For example, opening up a floor by removing a wall may create a better sense of spaciousness to some, but it can also reduce privacy for certain other buyers having different needs.
For Some Buyers, Two Stories is a Tall Order
Alternatively, many seniors and those approaching that stage in life simply won’t consider a two story house. There will be exceptions of course, but this means if you’re selling a home that isn’t single level, it’s most likely that your target buyers are not necessarily seniors.
I once sold a nice home on small acreage located right next to a seemingly laissez-faire neighbor about her own property’s appearance. However, my seller clients were very fastidious about upkeep both inside and outside and hoped to sell for the most money possible. So while I indeed sold their nice home on small acreage, it came only after a conga line of buyers voiced doubts about the ‘unkempt’ neighbor’s property next door.
While property taxes can be appealed, frequently they are unlikely to change greatly. The same can be said of HOA’s, also known as homeowner association dues and related fees. If your home has extensive CC&R’s (codes, covenants and conditions) or onerous home owner association restrictions and/or expensive fees, you have less flexibility outside than within the walls of your house, since HOA’s and CC&R’s typically ‘run with the land.’ With exceptions, both can be difficult to change or remove. As a result, it can make more sense to work within those factors you can more easily control.
If you have a one bedroom home with no heat source, expect lender issues. Likewise, if your property is located in a recognized high risk flood zone. Another example is if your property has an ‘improvement to land ratio’ that’s outside usual loan underwriting guidelines. That’s because for risk purposes, should the lender need to foreclose, then sell the property, lenders typically want the bulk of value to be in the home and related improvements, not in the land. Ask your Realtor if lender requirements are likely to be an issue in your situation. When lender requirements are an issue, it can be more challenging to sell your property.
This includes macroeconomic market factors like interest rates and microeconomic market factors like inventory. As you might imagine, there’s not a lot a homeseller can do to influence such metrics.
Stigmatized property is property with a detrimental reputation. Buyers can respond quite differently to the same stigmatized property, as each stigma is unique. Most commonly, the stigmas include a crime, death or other activity perceived as undesirable associated with a particular home. For more on this topic, check out the Oregon Real Estate Podcast episode on stigmatized properties here.
Selling Your Oregon Home?
Selling your home needn’t be an endless waiting game. For a free consultation on what your property could sell for in today’s Oregon real estate market, contact Certified Realty using the convenient contact form below or call (503) 682-1083.