Why is my property taking so long to sell?

If you’ve been trying to sell your property for some time now without success, you might be feeling despondent. That’s completely natural. The good news is, there very well might be a perfectly good reason for this.

One reason might be that you’re overconfident. This is a fairly common problem. You put your house on the market thinking it would sell within days. But selling property does not often work like that. In fact, it takes many weeks and even months. FNB helpfully releases statistics each year which reveal just how long properties tend to stay on the market in South Africa's five metros. Here are the most recent available statistics:

• Tshwane: 10 weeks
• Cape Town: 14 weeks
• Johannesburg: 15 weeks
• Ethekwini: 15 weeks
• Mandela Bay: 19 weeks

As you can clearly see, your dream of selling within days is highly unlikely. In fact, it’s likely to take anywhere from two to five months. If, however, you’ve waited more than five months, you might be doing something wrong. Here are some of the reasons.

You’re using the wrong estate agent, or you’re not using one at all

Not all agents are the same. The truth is that some are better than others. If you’re serious about selling your home quickly and for a good price, you need an experienced agent who knows the area well. Another reason might be that you’re not using an agent at all. That’s absolutely fine if you’re confident in your abilities to sell a home. But this is likely your first time and you don’t know what you’re doing. This often isn’t as simple as downloading an offer to purchase template and waiting for the offers to roll in. If you are attempting to sell your home yourself, you might not be doing a good enough job of marketing it. If you had listed with an agent, they would have used the resources and networks available to them to market your property. Of course, there are times when selling your home yourself is completely possible. You might have a friend or neighbour who has approached you, ready to sign, or you might know the neighbourhood really well and know exactly what you can do to seal the deal.

The place is a mess

Buyers are put off for many reasons. And many of them are superficial. They might not like the paint colour. They might not like the way you’ve hung your curtains. It’s important that your buyer can see through that. To do that, they need to actually be able to see your house. And that means all of your clutter, mess and dirt needs to be cleaned. That’s right, don’t even consider trying to sell your home until you’ve had a good clutter clearing session. They won’t be able to admire your marble counters if they’re covered by scores of appliances. And they won’t be able to admire the new double sinks in your bathroom if they’re surrounded by bottles of shampoo, cosmetics and cleaning supplies. Give your house its best possible chance of being sold by allowing people to actually see it.

The photos are bad

There’s an entire corner of the internet dedicated to bad real estate photos. These are the kind of photos that are so bad, they kind of take your breath away. Yes, they’re a little extreme. But they are the kind of photos you regularly see on online property listings. Think bedrooms with someone still asleep in the bed, bathrooms which have clearly never seen a scrubbing brush and kitchens with cupboards installed upside down. These aren’t just bad photos, they’re bad houses and proof of shoddy salesmanship. The photos are very likely the first thing an interested buyer is going to look at. And they might also very well be the last. Buyers who don’t like what they see in a photo are never going to waste their time actually arranging a viewing. Ensure you or your agent takes high-quality photos (when there’s no one in the room) and captures your clean and tidy home from all its most attractive angles.

You’re selling it at the wrong price

Finally, possibly the most important point, you might have priced it incorrectly. And that could go either way. It might be too high or too low. Think about how you filter your online searches when you’re fantasising about buying property. You’re very likely adding a minimum amount, to make sure what you see is fairly decent, and a maximum amount, to ensure that you don’t bankrupt yourself when making your first bond payment. In that way, if you’ve priced your home incorrectly, you’re cutting out many potential buyers. Have a look at what your neighbour’s homes have been selling for recently and price your home similarly. There’s no point trying to make extra money by attempting to overcharge when it’s clear what your home is worth. An estate agent could help you choose the correct asking price as they have experience with this.

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