What to do when your home has been on the market for a while

Selling a home can be a stressful and challenging process, especially when your property has been on the market for an extended period. However, there are several strategies you can employ to increase your chances of selling your home. 

Is your asking price correct?

One of the biggest problems might be that your asking price is not set correctly. If you are selling your home privately you might need to call in the professionals to ensure you haven't inadvertently set your asking price too high. Despite the common myth that setting your asking price high will leave room for negotiation, it usually has the opposite effect of what you want. Buyers are either scared away by your high price or those who can afford the inflated price will quickly see that it doesn't compare to other properties in the same price bracket.

A savvy agent can help the seller set the best, most competitive price for their home based on other recent sales and local market trends. They will also negotiate on the seller’s behalf to ensure that buyers put their best offer forward.

How to tell if your property is overpriced

  • The home is priced well above neighbouring properties for sale
  • Buyer interest is very low - even on show days
  • Despite months of marketing, all the offers are below the asking price
  • Properties in the neighbourhood are selling quickly, while yours aren't

However, not all hope is lost in making a good sale though. Here are our top tips on how to go about remarketing a previously overpriced home.

  • Plan a fresh start- Buyers who recognize a listing as having been on the market for months without selling are going to assume there is something wrong with the property. If your agent isn't willing to put in the time and effort to take fresh photos and create a new listing, you may need to have a serious conversation about expectations and performance.
  • Don't make the same mistake twice - No amount of pretty pictures and descriptive adjectives is going to sell your home if you get the price tag wrong a second time. To avoid that, we suggest getting a revised set of valuations done before re-listing, preferably by two or three agents who are active in your area. Make sure your agent can back up their valuations with good, hard evidence like a comparative market report that showcases facts and trends for property in your area.
  • Be transparent with buyers - If you attract buyers who previously avoided your property because of its overvalued price tag, be honest and upfront with them. They might have some doubts about potential flaws or defects that could have caused the price reduction. Your job is to ease the doubts by having copies of approved plans, comprehensive defect lists and even getting a professional home inspection report done if possible. Nothing is more comforting to a buyer than a seller that is a 100% above board. Defect lists are best drawn up with the help of your agent, who can assist you in being unambiguous without overplaying ordinary flaws. Professional home inspection reports can be commissioned at any number of inspection agencies, but make sure your chosen inspector is fully accredited.

Enhance your property's appeal

First impressions matter. Improving your home's appeal might just be the boost it needs to get it sold. Take a walk around the property and look at it from a buyer's perspective - what are the things that might not be in the best shape that could make buyers second guess whether they should make an offer or not?

Are there a lot of little broken things around the exterior - rusted gutters, leaking taps, or a patio in disrepair? Make a list of the things that you can improve on - sometimes just a good garden cleanup does the trick - and get to it. If you can afford to paint the exterior, do so.

Do the same for the inside of your home. Consider staging your property - here are our top tips:

1. Declutter

Your home must be clean, inviting, and exciting for potential buyers to view. Declutter and pack away unnecessary items. Buyers should be able to focus on the home and what it has to offer, rather than its contents. Cluttered rooms will feel smaller and overcrowded. Ideally, you’d want to reduce the home’s contents by about half. Hiring a storage unit while the home is on the market will help in storing unwanted pieces.

2. Keep it clean

With fewer items in the home, it’ll be easier to keep the home clean. An emptier home makes it easier to have the carpets professionally cleaned, which will make a big difference to how the home looks and smells. Washing the curtains will also add a pleasant aroma to the home. Fresh or new bedding will go a long way in sprucing up the bedrooms and getting them to look their best.

3. Introduce pleasant scents

Be conscious of the way the home smells because it can have an impact on the sale of the home. Good smells conjure up positive emotions, while bad odours will put potential buyers off. Nothing beats the smell of freshly brewed coffee or freshly baked cookies on a show day.

4. Wall art and natural light

Invest in wall art and pay attention to the Feng Shui of the rooms. Each room should be as bright as possible and should not hinder the natural walking paths and flow of the home. When buyers can to view the home, keep the curtains or blinds open to let in as much natural light as possible.

5. The devil is in the detail

Sometimes subtle, well-planned changes can make the biggest impression, such as a sparkling blue swimming pool or a freshly mowed lawn. A nice touch is some fresh flowers on display or a welcome mat – all these little things combined will add to the appeal of the home and impress potential buyers.

Professional Photography

High-quality photos can make a significant difference in how your home is perceived online. Now that you have upped the appeal consider retaking the listing photographs and relisting your proeprty. Not only will you now put your best foot forward for those who might not have seen your listing before, but could also be the reason why those who have seen your property in a new light. It is a win-win situation.

Sole Mandates are still the best option

Selling a home is a significant decision that involves numerous considerations, including whether to grant an exclusive mandate to a real estate agency. We explore this important question that often perplexes home sellers and find out why exclusive mandates remain the best choice for sellers in any market. 

The competition for attention

One crucial aspect to consider is the competitive nature of the real estate market. Homes listed for sale are essentially vying for the attention of potential buyers who are active in the market at any given time. This competition highlights the need for a focused and strategic approach to marketing a property.

Fresh exposure yields optimal results

When a property is freshly exposed to the market, it has the best chance of attracting the right buyers and selling quickly. For this reason, a reasonably short period of time, ideally less than three months, is crucial for optimal results. Beyond this timeframe, a property can become 'stale' in the eyes of potential buyers, leading them to question why it hasn't sold and potentially resulting in lower offers or no offers at all.

The role of exclusive mandates in maximizing efforts

In South Africa, most real estate agents work on a commission-only basis. This means they invest time, energy, and resources in marketing and selling a property, often with no guaranteed return on investment. An exclusive mandate provides agents with the security they need to invest their full efforts into the property's marketing and sale. This commitment ensures that the property receives the attention it deserves without the threat of competing agents undermining their efforts.

Strategic and effective marketing

Effective marketing is a cornerstone of successful real estate transactions, especially in slower markets. Exclusive mandates allow for a more focused and coordinated marketing strategy, which enhances a property's visibility. This strategic approach becomes even more critical during challenging economic times, as it holds agents accountable and ensures a more dedicated effort toward achieving a successful sale.

The expertise of area specialists

When choosing an agent for an exclusive mandate, it's crucial to select an area specialist with a solid track record. An experienced agent who understands the nuances of the local market can provide valuable insights and guide the pricing and negotiation strategies. A knowledgeable and trustworthy agent with integrity will navigate both high-demand and oversupplied markets effectively, ensuring the best possible outcome for the seller.

Read more about why sellers need a local area expert when selling their property

The duration of a sole mandate

A sole mandate, or exclusive mandate, typically remains valid for a specific period. This timeframe can vary depending on the seller's needs and urgency. In high-density metropolitan areas with strong demand, the process can conclude within weeks. In contrast, iconic luxury homes may require several months or even up to a year to secure the right buyer.

The expiry of a sole mandate

When a sole mandate expires, the property is no longer exclusively tied to a single agency. The seller gains the flexibility to consider other options, such as engaging multiple agencies or opting for an open mandate. However, it's important to note that transitioning from an exclusive mandate to a different arrangement should be done strategically to avoid market confusion and ensure a smooth transition.

Cancelling a sole mandate

Cancelling a sole mandate involves a formal process. If a seller wishes to terminate the mandate before its expiration, they should communicate their decision to the agency in writing. It's advisable to review the terms of the mandate agreement, including any notice period or cancellation fees that may apply. Working closely with the agent and agency can help streamline the cancellation process and mitigate any potential complications.

Selling a home that has been on the market for a long time can be challenging, but it is not impossible. By reevaluating your pricing strategy, enhancing your home's appeal, and expanding your marketing efforts, you can increase your chances of selling your home successfully.

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