One of the first questions we hear when a property has been on the market for 30 days and has seen no offers is why isn’t my house selling. Why? Well, it might be a price issue, but then again, it might not. It might be a marketing issue. The most difficult thing to do when listing a property is to price it right. Especially in this kind of a market, a softening market. Prices didn’t really drop in all of our areas. Sure, they did in some areas of the Peninsula, but not by much in Burlingame, Hillsborough, west San Mateo, Foster City, Redwood Shores and San Carlos. These areas aren’t dropping as much as buyer’s want them to although they have softened. If you, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, have priced your home well, done the necessary work to make it shine, repaired major flaws, painted, removed clutter, cleaned up the garage, cleaned the yard and landscaped neatly your home should sell. Not in a couple of days but within 45-90 days. This is a normal market.
Let’s pretend you are trying to sell your house by yourself – a FISBO (for sale by owner). You don’t want to pay a commission to any Realtor, you only want to sell directly to the buyer. You know your house. You love your house and everything that you have done to make it special. You think you have the nicest house on the block. You know what the one across the street sold for last year and you think your house is better and worth more and therefore, you price it above the one across the street. You do flyers on your own (Microsoft is so nice to provide those templates, aren’t they?). You advertise in the paper. You throw up pictures on Craig’s List and forsaleby owner.com and wait for the open house. You’ve got it listed on Zillow’s Make Me Move at a price you want. People do come through. They comment. They touch. They open up doors and drawers. They look at your belongings, and open the medicine cabinet to look in there, too. My, what a nosy bunch and mostly neighbors, too! Then they ring the doorbell at all hours to see it, because you have a “For Sale By Owner” sign in your lawn. They want to see it then and now, and you have dinner on the table or your kids are screaming, or the laundry is spread everywhere. What do you do? Turn them away or let them in? They are an intrusion to your life but since you don’t want to talk to a Realtor, you must make a split second decision on what to do. You are so turned off by the thought of selling with an agent that you’ve gone so far as to write Principles only in everything you’ve advertised. It’s all yours baby.
You really haven’t done any kind of inspections to assure a potential buyer that the house is in good shape. You figure that the buyer will do this once you have negotiated the price. You don’t have written disclosures of any kind done. You answer all questions and figure that’s all that’s required. This is your house, after all, and you need every penny you can get out of it in order to move. You know you’ll need to open up an escrow account once you agree on a price with some company but you don’t worry about that because you assume they’ll help you. You’ve even gotten a contract from the Stationary store or have downloaded the one Microsoft has in their Templates area on their website. You’re all set. Right?
Tell me, what pitfalls, if any, do you see with the above scenario? Can you tell me the ones that open this seller up to a law suit? Can you tell my what misjudgments they have? Can you tell me if you think this property will sell at the price they’re asking? For more? For less? Are they looking through rose colored glasses?
Stay tuned for my answers tomorrow.