I read your blog on home valuations with interest and would like your opinion. During this time, Zillow has “zestimated” our house at as much as $880,000, down to $860,000 and currently suggests our property is worth $796,000. Our last appraisal was $700,000 back in 2004. We are reluctant to reduce the price further without better evidence that it would do any good.
What do you think we should do? Should we just wait until a buyer comes along?
You’re not alone. In many real estate markets, certain segments have seen no movement while others seem to be quite hot. Your issue may not be price but lack of buyers looking in your price range.
Frequently, owners get hung up on what online sites say their home is worth. But those sites run the gamut from extremely accurate to extremely inaccurate, so we don’t give those sites much credence. Those sites help by providing a general range of values but don’t specifically reflect what a buyer will pay for your home.
There are many reasons homes don’t sell in certain markets. Some real estate markets have certain sweet spots. If home buyers are looking for something specific, they may shy away from your type of home. Consider that split-level homes from the ’60s and ’70s were once the ideal home to live in, but now many home buyers wouldn’t consider living in one of those. If you have a home like that, you might find that buyers are looking for other type of homes. If your home is in a market where homes are torn down and replaced by newly constructed ones, your home may be priced above the market for a teardown and may not be in favor with some buyers.
Your best bet is to look around at what other homes are listed in your neighborhood. See what homes have sold in your price range and what was done to those homes after sale. If there are a ton of homes available under your price, you just may have too many homes available for too few buyers. If that’s the case, buyers get picky and will choose a home that best suits their needs. What those buyers also do is knock off homes from their list based on certain factors that you might not have much control over.
If you live on a busy street, if your home is of a type that is out of favor, if your lot is small, if your real estate taxes are too high, if the exterior appearance of your home has issues, if your home has deferred maintenance issues, if you live in community where schools aren’t quite good enough, or if you live in a community with financial difficulty issues or crime, you may not be able to get buyers to take notice of your home.
We’ve always felt that price is often the magic number when trying to sell a home. If you price too high from the start, your listing gets stale and home buyers start to ignore your listing. Also, when your home has been on the market for a long time (or on and off the market), buyers start to believe that there must be something wrong with the home since it has been on the market so long and the vicious cycle keeps the home from selling.
We can’t tell you what specifically has kept buyers away from buying your home. We’d suggest you have a conversation with your real estate agent and have him or her give you an honest assessment of the market and your home in particular. It’s not always easy to hear what real estate agents have to say. You may have lived in the home for many years and have loved it. But that doesn’t mean that your home is the crown jewel of the neighborhood. It actually may have big negatives working against it. If you can address and fix some of those negatives, you might have better luck selling.
In our past columns, we’ve written how helpful it is to seller objectivity to walk to the edge of your property and take an honest look at your home from that perspective. For example, if the landscaping isn’t ideal, it might not cost too much to make the home look better from the street and that could go a long way to sell the home.
You’ve now gone through two real estate brokers. It’s time for you to get some feedback from them on what is going on. If other homes are selling but yours isn’t, you’ve got to figure out what’s wrong and then solve that problem.
But to do that, you’ve got to get some honest advice from people who are real experts in your neighborhood. If you get that advice and it’s just the market that won’t cooperate, it might just mean that your price range is a hard sell in this market. And unless you want to take a big reduction in the price, you may still be trying to sell the home for some time to come.
Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar + ebook series called “The Intentional Investor: How to Be Wildly Successful in Real Estate” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them at ThinkGlink.com.