Unfortunately, not all properties sell the first time they’re listed for sale, even in a hot market.
Those that do sell can go pretty quickly, while those that don’t can languish on the “for sale” register of selling agents for some time.
Around 20% to 30% of properties fail to find a buyer.
Whatever the reasons for this are, sellers have to prepare themselves for the possibility that their sales campaign may be unsuccessful.
Just in case this happens to you, here are my 10 tips to help you plan your next steps…
1. Review Your Price Strategy
This should be one of the first things you consider.
You need to make sure your for sale price is a true reflection of your property’s value and prevailing market sentiment.
There’s no point sticking to an unrealistic value that’s way out of kilter with the market – this in itself could be the reason your property hasn’t sold.
Sure, you want to get the highest price possible for your home, but price is something the market will determine.
And remember, the longer your property is on the market the harder it becomes to get any benefits from re-advertising at a lower price as buyers may have moved on and market conditions may have turned against you.
The key point here is to do your research.
Visit Onthehouse.com.au and check out comparable properties and the prices they sold for, and get a free property profile report on your property to get an indication of what your property might be worth.
Price is a sensitive issue and you need to be mindful of the psychology of selling.
For instance, you are likely to get more interest if your property is priced at $499,000 rather than $501,000.
Also don’t forget to take into account seasonal factors and where we are at in the property price cycle when setting your price expec
2. Assess Your Selling Agent
Your selling agent is working for you so you should ensure you’re getting the level of service you expect and are paying for.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your agent know if you’re not happy or you are concerned about progress – sooner rather than later.
For instance, don’t leave it until after the auction to let them know you have been having concerns because by then it is be too late.
The key, of course, is to do your homework on the selling agent before you appoint them.
Check them out online, get references and trust your gut.
If things don’t work out, find someone else if you plan to keep your property on the market after an unsuccessful auction or a prolonged private sales campaign.
3. Revisit Your Advertising Campaign
Your selling agent should be able to tell you how many online views of your property took place and how many inspections occurred.
Ideally, this should be compared to expected numbers in each category to help measure the effectiveness of the campaign – and it will also help you identify any gaps in your campaign.
Pictures are a powerful online selling tool, so you should also review whether the ones chosen for your property show it in its best light and highlight its best features.
In particular, your pictures should promote the aspects of your property that will be attractive to your target market.
Additionally, take a look at the property description to make sure the words used are enticing and creative, as well as accurate and truthful.
The effective combination of pictures, content and online position and exposure in relevant local newspapers and publications should combine to form a powerful marketing platform.
If it hasn’t, your selling agent has some explaining to do.
4. Give Your Property a Face-Lift
Ideally, you would have addressed key make-over issues and opportunities before putting your property on the market, but during the course of the campaign a good selling agent will encourage feedback from potential buyers.
This feedback can point to issues that have not been previously considered and those that could be barriers or turn-offs to a successful sale.
Good curb appeal is very important to buyers, as is having a property that is neat, tidy and doesn’t require too much maintenance or repair work.
Remember, you don’t want any issues or problems evident in your photos – these should show the property in in best light and, hopefully, in pristine condition.
You might also consider staging future open for inspections.
That is, bringing in some hire furniture to help show your property off.
It might cost a bit extra, but it may pay for itself many times over if it helps secure the sale.
A big plus in giving your property a cost effective make-over is that it not only helps meet the market in terms of expectations but may also encourage previous viewers to come back for a second look – this could lead to a sale without the need for a full-blown marketing campaign.
5. Withdraw the Property
This is not an especially palatable option but in some cases it may be necessary, especially if your property has been on the market for some time.
The problem with properties that have been on market for a while is that buyers tend to avoid them, or, if they show interest, try to negotiate down the price in the hope you may be desperate to sell.
The magic number seems to be around 90 days on the market.
If your property hasn’t sold by then you probably won’t get the price you want from the current cohort of buyers.
You might be better off taking your property off the market for a few months and waiting for new buyers to make an appearance.
In the meantime, you can sort out any issues or problems and start your new campaign afresh.
6. Postpone the Sale
You could have your timing wrong and now is not the right time to sell.
To help you determine whether this might be the case, there are two key factors to consider – seasonal and where we’re at in the property cycle.
Seasonal factors – the most popular time to sell is during spring and summer because, among other things, gardens tend to be in bloom, the weather shows off the property in the best light and there are more family viewings – especially during the school holidays.
On the other hand, autumn and winter can be good times to sell because there are fewer properties on the market and therefore less competition.
Property cycle factors – property values move in cycles –upturn/boom, downturn/stagnation (or deflation if the market goes really pear-shaped).
The trick is to sell while prices are increasing and before the market peaks because during this period potential buyers will see upside potential in property values.
It might be that you are selling in summer, whereas an autumn sale might be the better option.
Or the market has bottomed and is approaching a period of growth.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to get your timing right and this is where seeking the advice of a local selling agent can be helpful.
You may be able to sell your property at the price you want simply be waiting a bit until market conditions are in your favour.
7. Listen to the Market
There is a big difference between listening and hearing.
Hearing is about taking in what is being said but not doing anything about it, whereas listening is acknowledging what you’re being told and responding appropriately.
Hopefully you’ve asked for advice from friends, family and your selling agent about why your property has not sold, but unless you do something about it nothing is going to change.
Change can be difficult to implement if there is a strong emotional connection to the property – because it can be hard to erase your family’s history (e.g. repainting your kids bedroom) and hard to say goodbye.
It’s important to be objective and have your eye clearly on the end game – a successful sale.
So take a deep breath and take on board what the market is telling you.
8. Rent Your Home
This is not exactly a solution to the selling problem but it may help deal with some of the reasons for selling – such as situations where you may need to vacate your property for the short or medium term.
Examples could include when you’re relocating for a job, family matters or because you’ve outgrown your home.
The idea behind renting is that you’ll generate sufficient income to help meet mortgage repayments and help ease the financial burden if you plan to rent or buy somewhere else.
Of course you’ll have to do your sums to make sure it stacks up financially, not to mention being prepared to take on the responsibilities and obligations of being a landlord, but it might help get you over the immediate hurdle of not being able to sell your property.
If you are selling because of financial reasons, then refinancing and perhaps some form of debt consolidation may be a viable option.
Again, you’ll have to do your sums and make sure you would be financially better off in doing this, but getting a cheaper and more flexible home loan could make a big difference to your family finances.
It may also help buy some time so you can put your property back on the market down the track.
Just remember to seek independent advice and work collaboratively with your financial adviser and selling agent.
10. Stay Positive
It goes without saying that an unsuccessful sales campaign can be emotionally draining and financially disappointing (since you have forked out for legal and advertising costs and possibly the cost of an auctioneer).
Therefore, it’s very important to stay focused and positive, and not allow any disappointments to cloud your judgement or objective decision making.
Don’t rush into further action – take your time and reflect.
You need to give yourself every opportunity to sell your property at the price you want and this may take a little more time and need a new strategy. Staying positive is an important part of that strategy.