Why isn’t my house SOLD yet?

You have to be in the top three of your “price tier”. Being at the high end of your “price tier” is better than being at the bottom of your “price tier”.

Photos must all be good photos and must be ordered in “hook order”.

Stop looking at what is for sale and stop looking at the comps once your property is listed for sale. If you have a lot of showings and no offers, then it is something AT the property that is causing it not to sell and you are a “bounce point”. If you don’t have enough showings it is something in the mls that is causing it not to sell, unless you HAD a lot of showings at first and dwindled down to not enough.

That’s pretty much it, pretty simple to me, but let me explain some of the lingo up there.

A “price tier” is the increment of value pre-supposed by the public websites. Go to Redfin or Windermere or John L. Scott or CBBain sites, and look at property in your area similar to yours. The site forces you to put a range of value that the site itself predetermines. The lower the price, the more important this is. Let’s look at the $250,000 to $300,000 crowd. If you are $259,000 or $276,000 or $309,000, you are “off”. The site forces people to look at $250,000 to $275,000 and $275,000 to $300,000.

If you are priced at $259,000 you are missing the people stretching up. Let’s face it, almost every single buyer in this price range “stretches up!” as in “I want to spend $250,000, but will go as high as $275,000, but NOT a PENNY MORE! By pricing your property at $254,000, you miss the boat on the $225,000 to $250,000 crowd and don’t compare well enough for the $250,000 to $275,000 crowd. $254,000 is just past the point where someone stretching up will see you at all and your property is not comparing well to those in the group at higher prices. $309,000 is just a KILLER price…the first number being the ALL IMPORTANT one. The difference between $240,000 and $249,000 is nothing, but the difference between $299,000 and $301,000 is a KILLER!! (An aside to agents here. If you are at a listing appointment and the seller insists on pricing at $301,000 instead of $299,999 or $300,000 straight up, LEAVE, RUN! It means “I don’t really want to sell this place, I’m just appeasing my ___ and pretending to be selling it.”

I could write a chapter of a book on “price tiers” alone, so let’s move on to photo “hook order”. Photo #1 is all important as many sites (like Realtor.com last I looked) require the user to click another button to get past photo #1. If photo #1 doesn’t grab them, you are dead in the water, and they are scrolling down past you.

Unfortunately mls rules hinder the seller when it comes to photo #1. There are a few rules written with agents in mind that I do not agree with, and this is one of them. Why should the mls REQUIRE that this all important key photo be…??? Seller should have more freedom in that regard. According to mls rules, photo number one must be an “exterior” shot, preferably the front door area, so agents can more easily find the property. Lame rule in my opinion if the curb appeal is NOT the seller’s claim to fame. All mls services should change that rule yesterday, giving the seller the opportunity to put his best foot forward, regardless of what constitutes each seller’s best foot. In condo complexes it is a KILLER rule. Who the heck needs to see another shot of the outside of a big condo building. Ever wonder why you see 25 shots of the same photo on a new construction project? Looks pretty dumb from the user’s perspective…but….it’s a rule. If the interior is a slab granite knockout and the exterior is 1977…this rule KILLS a seller and the mls is wrong, wrong, and wrong again for making the seller put the 1977 exterior as photo #1 vs. the knockout new kitchen. Let’s all fight for that change…or Robbie, can you reconfigure the photo order on an mls feed???

Hook Order – think attention span. Once you get past photo #1 issues, the second photo must be your absolute best of the rest. Forget about the “virtual tour” concept where you have the buyer “walking in from the front door”. If your claim to fame is your fireplace and kitchen, get those into the #2 and #3 spots. Make a list of your selling points in order or priority. If #1 is new kitchen, #2 is fireplace, #3 is double sinks in master bath…show the photos in the order of the priority of your selling features. If your #1 claim to fame is a jacuzzi in a cheap condo, don’t be afraid to put that jacuzzi as photo #2. Every picture in sequence, is a hook, as buyers often say “no I don’t want to see that one” after seeing photo #1 and #2. Having your best selling features at photo #11 and photo #12??…think about it…common sense rules.

A small note about the number of total photos. Max allowed is 15. Always use max if possible. That DOES NOT mean I want to see the open toilet and the toilet paper. It means take your best features from varied angles. Don’t be afraid to be redundant with regard to your very best selling points, but mix them up. Put it at photo #2 and #3 and bring it back to emphasize the strong selling features at photo #11 and #12, but from a different perspective as in #2 is kitchen from kitchen and #11 is kitchen from dining area.

This is getting way too long and I have things to do, so let’s just brush over the last point. If I could crack open every agent’s brain and slide in a little microchip, it would say STOP LOOKING AT THE COMPS AFTER THE PROPERTY IS LISTED FOR SALE! You look at the comps to determine your opening price out the gate, that’s all, DONE, finito!! No showings…wrong price. Plenty of showings but everything is selling but yours…condition problems. DO NOT even MENTION the sold comps once you are out the gate…irrelevant data.

And if I had nickel for everytime I heard an agent say, “I don’t know what’s wrong? We’re the ‘best game in town’ given what is for sale.” Face it…they are going to the next town, because you are an overpriced dog, regardless of the fact you have no competition in YOUR complex. What else can they buy for THEIR MONEY is the order of the day! Of utmost importance with one level condos. Buyers come in waves. “Surfing the net” is not just a catch phrase.

In the low price range the buyers are currently renting and have nothing to sell. If they don’t like what they are seeing in their price range, because the cream has been skimmed off the top, they wait for the next wave of new inventory. Your wave has crashed and your board is floating out to sea.

Buyers pay attention to these rules, and go grab all of the stale ones who aren’t following the rules, by offering them eighty cents on the dollar. Go for the $309,000s, on market for over 60 days, with only two photos, photo #1 being the sign with the name of the condo complex on it 🙂 and search for the “pick of the litter”.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

7 thoughts on “Why isn’t my house SOLD yet?

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  3. Don’t you have to meet one of two requirements for primary photo? either shot of the exterior or view from the property? For condos, would a view shot be a better choice just to differentiate from others?

  4. A better choice would be the one that the agent and the seller believe to be the one that would cause a buyer to click the property details button and not scroll away. A better choice would be the one deemed best for the seller without mls interference.

    Why do you think it MUST be an exterior photo, Eric. I am sure other mls services around the Country do not have this distinction and can use an interior shot, when deemed most appropriate from the seller’s perspective.

    Dustin, does Realtor.com require an exterior photo?

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  6. I have a five year old double wide manufactured home located in a park on a rental lot. It is almost 1300. square feet with loads of cabinets and a large island. It has a nice deck and a storage shed. It has plenty of parking. The park it is located in charges 400. lot rent for renting the lot. The homes in the park are both older and new ones. My realtor felt we started out at a reasonable price. We had alot of activity when the house was first listed about 3 mos. ago, but the last few weeks we have no showings! It is in neutral colors, it is clean and spacious! Everyone that has looked at it loves it! Seven people got turned down by the lender for bad credit problems and some people wanted to live in other parks, they didn’t like ours. I don’t know what else to do to sell it! I asked our realtor about dropping our price and she said it is up to us. My husband feels we ought not yet because we need the proceeds off the sale to buy another. My realtor also discourages us offering contingency offers on others we see online that we like. I really want to move while the rates are down (how long will that be??)… What should we do???? Please give me some good advice!! Thank you, Brenda from PA

  7. Brenda,

    I don’t have any experience with manufactured homes. My sister Nikki had one in Langhorne, PA many years ago as her first home.

    Are there others for sale in your park? Have any sold while yours did not? Sounds like people did buy in other places, so it would seem price is an issue. Are you priced higher than any have sold for since September? Going back before September to determine price is not a good idea.

    Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Do you have a link to your online presentation? Maybe if we could see that we could offer some suggestions.

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