The Unsellable Home and How to Avoid Having One
We all know that house, with the “for sale” sign that seems to linger and linger, even in a healthy market like Markham, Ontario. It makes the neighbours nervous, wondering if the area is losing value or if they will suffer the same fate when it’s time for them to sell.
It can also be a huge source of stress for the sellers with the work it takes to maintain a home for showings and the uncertainty of waiting for someone to make an offer. In my experience, a quick sale is best for everyone (of course, at the asking price or above).
In my 28 years as a Realtor, I have sold many "unsellable" homes: drug houses, homes in disrepair, homes where disgruntled tenants have left holes in the walls and ripped the doors off kitchen cabinets, or homes where the odour from pets and cigarettes is unbearable. I have even had bidding wars on "unsellable" homes! The fact is, no house is really "unsellable". What matters most is how the house is prepared for market and that the asking price truly reflects the circumstance.
Making your home as appealing to the market as possible certainly helps speed up the selling process and can help you obtain a higher price. I always offer home staging to my sellers and there's a strong reason why...it yields a higher sale price.
Here is the playbook on some of the factors that can affect the “sell-ability” of the average home and what you can do about it:
PERSONALITY & PROPORTIONS
This isn’t just the paint and the pillows ~ this is the feel of a home when you walk into it. Does it feel welcoming and open or does it feel cold and austere? Is the home stuck in a decades-old time warp? Is the home dark or light? While there isn’t much (shy of major renovations) you can do about the way a house is laid out you can focus on accentuating the positives.
Remove all window coverings so that the big bay window in the living room creates a flood of light. Rearrange furniture so that the gorgeous hardwood floors are in full view. Ensure that the rear windows are closed so that potential buyers can’t hear the constant buzz of the traffic right in the backyard.
Turn spotlights on the good parts and dim the lights on the not-so-good ones. Just like a wardrobe stylist can help one dress for their proportions, an experienced home stager can do the same for your property.
COMPLETE PARTIAL PROJECTS
If there are lots of unfinished areas and projects in a home it can send the wrong message to potential purchasers about the general state the house. No one wants to be reminded that a house needs a fair bit of work (even if it really does).
Before listing make sure that the honey-do list is cleared and no areas look like they are still under construction. Clear out all signs of home improvement like empty paint cans or leftover materials. I have a list of handy-men that I frequently give out to my sellers if this part is overwhelming.
PICK THE PANSIES
You may have loved spending hours tending to your gardens but too much landscaping can make even the most attractive home seem less desirable. Many buyers don’t want to think of the weekends of work that a full garden means.
Trim down and take out as much as you can to ensure that the yard looks as appealing and as low-maintenance as possible. You may also want to consider replacing foliage with hardscaping or alternatives such as rocks, pebbles, grasses and mulch. And never, ever leave multiple full leaf bags hanging around!
This is where a full-time dedicated and experienced real estate agent is essential to ensuring that your home is properly priced, not just market value but for the state and condition of the property. A professional can help separate the emotional component that many sellers wrestle with so that your home doesn’t languish on the market.
The reality is that most harder-to-sell homes do sell quickly once their price drops. Mispricing a home in the early days can lead to a great deal of frustration. Being realistic can not only save you a great deal of stress but can get your home sold swiftly...possibly with multiple offers!