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Homeside: Your Modern Mortgage Blog

How to Avoid a Stale Real Estate Listing

Posted by Mikey Rox on October 10, 2016

A stale listing is frustrating for you and your clients, and matching the right buyer with the right home isn’t always easy. As such, some of your listings may sit with little interest for months at a time. The longer a listing is stagnant, the harder it is to sell.

Even when buyers are somewhat interested in a property, they become suspicious of stale listings and wonder why others haven’t made an offer. This can translate into fewer showings, which adds to your seller’s stress.

To keep sellers happy, you need to move their properties fast. Here are tips to help you avoid a state real estate listing.

1. Don’t play games with the price

Stale real estate listings are often the result of an asking price that’s too high for the area. Buyers are interested in homes that are competitively priced, and they don't want to overspend for a property. Sellers, on the other hand, want to sell for as much as they can and there's a tendency to think their homes are worth more than their actual value.

Some sellers suggest a higher asking price on the off chance that a buyer will fall in love with the property and pay more, but this isn’t reality. Some buyers are savvy and familiar with the market, and they won’t waste time on a property that’s clearly overpriced. This is how stale listings happen, but you can avoid this scenario by setting an asking price that's fair and competitive from the beginning.

2. Offer incentives if you know it’ll be a tough sale

Sometimes, a fair asking price isn't enough to compete with similar properties in the neighborhood, especially when these properties are priced slightly lower, and when your seller can’t afford to reduce his price. You’re in for an uphill battle, but you can win over buyers.

Buyers love freebies. If your sellers can sweeten the deal, this might persuade a buyer to make an offer and pay a little more for the property. This includes offering a one-year home warranty and closing costs assistance. Even if you seller can’t afford to offer much, something is better than nothing.

The incentives don’t have to stop with a warranty and closing costs. Depending on how motivated your sellers are, they can also win over buyers by offering home appliances, such as a washer and dryer or refrigerator, or a credit at closing toward the purchase of new appliances. Giving more helps buyers wrap their heads around the higher price.

3. Make suggestions for improving the home

If the property doesn't appeal to buyers, it isn't going to get a lot of traffic and the listing can become stale. As a realtor, it’s awkward to make suggestions for improving the appearance of a seller’s home, especially if they’re proud of their home.

Unfortunately, biting your tongue isn’t going to sell the home. Be honest, but respectful. Let them know what buyers look for in a home, and explain how their efforts to improve the property can result in a faster sale.

The photos you take of the home will appear online, and some buyers will use these images to decide whether the property is worthy of a visit. If the home doesn't show well online, buyers won't give it a second thought.

Helping the home show better can be as simple as a fresh paint job or getting a storage unit to alleviate clutter in the home and give the impression of a bigger space. They can remove furniture from rooms and only keep essential pieces, as well as de-personalize the home by removing souvenirs, pictures and knickknacks. Every buyer should be able to walk into the home and see themselves living inside.

4. Use good judgment when listing properties

Sometimes you’ll have to deliver bad news, which includes telling a seller that now’s not the right time to sell a home. This is often the case when a seller owes more on their mortgage than the average sale price of similar homes in the neighborhood.

A seller who isn’t in a rush to move doesn’t mind keeping his home on the market until it sells, regardless of how long it takes. But although some sellers are fine with this approach, a stale listing is almost inevitable in these types of scenarios. If you’re absolutely positive a property won’t sell due to bad timing, listing the property at this time is a disservice to your client. Be honest and explain the risk of a stagnant listing, encourage your client to wait until the market improves.

Now that you know what causes a listing to go stale, you can reduce the risk of a prolonged listing and frustration.

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