Your Home didn’t sell this past year, what should you do?

By mark-slade December 23, 2010

What Should You Do when Your Listing Has Expired?
Sellers usually find it difficult to be optimistic after a listing has expired and they are still left with a home to sell.  At first most sellers are excited and possibly a bit apprehensive when they first sign their first listing contract.  There is little doubt that both the seller and their agent are in synch and hope that the home sells quickly.  I know, first hand from personal experience, how frustrating it can be to wait, week after week, for an offer when that offer never arrives or to second guess yourself after receiving offers that may have fallen far below your expectations and that you ultimately rejected during the course of your listing.
Regardless of the length of listing, when the listing has expired, the broker/seller relationship should be up for review.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to even blink before being hounded by hordes of hungry agents looking to swoop in on you with the hopes of getting your listing, especially now that they have the benefit of knowing that you were recently interested in selling your home.  So in between the phone calls and door bell ringing, it is important for seller and agent to conduct a post mortem review to determine why their home didn’t sell?
The first review should be of your reasons for moving as this is where the process started.  Are you simply seeing what the market is for your home or do you have a job transfer or health reason for moving?  If the former, you may have acted more cautiously when asked to review a lower than expected offer or you may have dragged your feet when being asked to lower your listing price.  I did the latter once and paid the price for it as a seller.  So, if this sounds like you, then you don’t have to go much further in your review as simple Economics 101 tells us that supply and demand will intersect as some price given the opportunity.
So, I ask you to consider only reflect on the following:
Timing:  Urgent—you want to close in 45-60 days then you should have been priced aggressively-5% below the CMA; 3-6 months on market means you probably should have been priced in line with CMA; and 6-12 months means you probably priced it at the top of the range in value for a home of your size, condition and location.   Distressed Sales have similar needs as in a Short Sale=you should be priced to sell as quickly as possible ; on verge of short sale means you should be priced relatively aggressive; versus a basic sale which means you have the luxury of trying a slightly higher price out of the gate.
Preparedness to sell:  was your home staged, paint all touched up or repainted, de-cluttered, and renovated in the past 5-7 years?  If so, your house should sell reasonably well if priced correctly.  However, you can safely assume that anything less than that will result in an increasingly difficult sales challenge which means price will be a greater and greater factor in salability. 
These areas of concern are dominated by your choices and your agent should have, if they were an effective partner, acknowledged your desires and marketed your home appropriately.  Failure to be on the same page with your agent for these concerns means you are not communicating effectively with one another and that means you need to address this better with the agent you chose to help you continue the pursuit of selling your home.
Agent Failure:
Was there a business plan to sell your home that was reviewed together and agreed to? What worked, what didn’t pull ad calls or showings? Did your pictures do your home justice (well lit, etc.) were any direct mail efforts executed, did your agent put a put a lockbox on the propert
Talk to Your Existing Agent About Why the Listing Expired
If your agent has fulfilled the marketing plan, worked diligently to sell your home, and local realtors are not ringing your door bell, then your local realtors probably think your home is overpriced.   Similarly, if you don’t get any offers from buyers in the first 21 days, it is safe to assume that current market buyers feel your home is priced too high for the market.  The solution probably lies with a price reduction.  Ask your existing agent or a new agent to prepare another comparative market analysis to determine if your home is priced to sell.
If you respect and value your agent, relist with that agent. Adjust your price accordingly and follow your agent’s suggestions, even if it means making repairs or improvements you’d rather not do. If your agent is spending money on your listing through advertising, aggressive marketing and networking that listing, that agent deserves your loyalty.  
At the same time, if you have not been given concrete suggestions or advice, if you don’t have a good number of photographs of your home online, if your home is not listed on, and, you have a problem and you may do better with a new agent.
If re-listing your home, Consider Condition
Go out and look at other homes on the market to determine if your home is in the same condition as those actively for sale. Perhaps you need to do repairs before selling. Maybe your home needs to be staged. Does your home scream curb appeal? Have you followed Top 10 home showing tips? A good trick to determine market value is to pull up pics of homes online, have a 3rd person  “black out the prices” and then arrange the home pics in the order of most expensive to least expensive, with you home being one of them.  Then double check the list prices to see where you stand in the order.
Look Again at Buyer Objections
What have buyers said about your home? Review buyer feedback, which your agent should have obtained for you when your home first went on the market. Is there validity to what buyers were saying? How can you compensate for those objections?
Discount Last Minute end of Listing Contract Activity
You won’t have to look too far to find agents because they’ll all come crawling out of the woodwork when your listing expires. Realtors are prevented from soliciting a seller when the listing is active in MLS. But you’re fair game when the listing has expired.
You may wonder why your listing, now that it has expired, is so popular?  Many agents prefer to get their business by contacting expired listings because they know that you have actively tried to sell your home.  To prevent this, you might ask your agent to make sure your name and phone number have been removed from MLS when the listing is withdrawn, canceled or expired to make it more difficult for agents to harass, oops, I mean, call you.
However, if you do need to sell, you will undoubtedly be taking a call or two and then making an appointment or two.  Please be aware that some agents will take a listing that is overpriced just to get signage and to find new buyer clients.  So, if you do speak with a new agent, make sure you get them to conduct an Advanced Comparable Market Analysis so that you are apprised of the latest market conditions that will help to determine current market value for your home.  Agents that include A-actives and UC’s-Under Contracts in your price determination are using unknown and yet to be determined values to influence their CMA, in this agent’s opinion.   That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep an eye on the competition—a similar size/style/location home that is listed under where you want to re-list.
Contact Several Listing Agents
Interview agents. Ask the hard questions to determine if the agents are giving you the right answers.  Find out what another agent might do differently.  If another agent offers substantially more service than your existing agent, list with that agent. Check your criteria for choosing a listing agent.
Lastly, make sure whoever you chose to re-list your home exhibits the necessary passion, drive, energy and creativity to garner as much local realtor support as possible as the most important element of selling a home is to get it in front of as many potential buyers as possible.
Mark Slade, Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct Realty, Inc.  Trained in Advanced Comparable Market Analysis to provide you with the best possible pricing information about your home.