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What to do when your house isn’t selling

Sellers  |  17 May 2019  | By the settled.govt.nz team

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You’ve heard all about people who sold their house within a week, or for a price beyond their wildest expectations. But what can you do if you put your house up for sale and no one seems to want it?

Talk to your real estate agent

If you’re in this situation, the first step is to have an honest conversation with your real estate agent.

Hopefully, you decided to trust them with selling your largest asset because they have a good track record in selling properties like yours and because they have good knowledge of your area, and the people who want to live there.

Before you signed the agency agreement with them, they will have given you a written estimate of the sale price, based on current market conditions and sales of similar properties. We suggest checking in with your agent about how changes in the market may affect the desirability of your property.

Think about property prices and demand

Ask your agent if they think your price expectations need to be adjusted. Also consider whether your property is out of step with what people want; if you have a large family home with extensive grounds but the majority of would-be buyers are looking for small, first-home properties, there’s not much you can do to change their minds or their price limits.

Consider switching real estate agents

If you are concerned that your agent is not the right person to sell your property, it might be an idea to look for one with better local or property specific expertise, once your current agency agreement ends. Remember to check the conditions of your agency agreement carefully before doing this – you don’t want to be in a position where you have to pay two agents if the property sells.

View your home as a ‘critical buyer’

If you and your agent are in agreement that the asking price is still right, and the market is still solid, there may be other levers you can pull to boost buyer interest.

It can be helpful to view your home as a critical buyer. Do you have feedback from people who have viewed the property about what they think the faults are? Have you talked about this with your agent? It may be that you’re oblivious to the issues that are putting people off your property.

Go to open homes

Going to open homes can be a good way to see what you’re up against. For example, if comparable houses in your price range all feature new carpet and fresh paint, but your place is sporting the same décor it had in 2003, buyers may see it as dated. See our webpage on viewing an open home to get an idea of the types of questions people are asking as they look at your home. We also have some handy information on marketing your property.

Do a deep clean and declutter

Talk to your agent about whether you’re better to spend a bit on freshening the place up or lowering the price. A bit of deep cleaning and decluttering never goes amiss – that goes for the exterior too.

Stay positive

Having a house that isn’t selling can be stressful, but it’s important to remain positive. If it’s more important to you to get a certain price for your property than it is to have a quick sale, you’re better off staying put. In the meantime, have those conversations with your agent, work out what you can change and accept the things you can’t.

In summary

To recap, here are some points to consider if your house isn’t selling:

  • Have an honest conversation with your real estate agent about whether price expectations need to be adjusted or whether you should spend money on some improvements
  • Consider switching agents if there’s one with better local or property specific expertise, once your current agency agreement ends
  • View your home as a critical buyer to try and understand what’s putting people off your property
  • Go to open homes to check out the competition
  • Do a deep clean and declutter inside and out if you haven’t already.

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