We’ve all read the answers here on why homes don’t sell or get showings. It’s a “no duh” moment when people say (1) it’s priced too high, (2) it needs to be staged, (3) the location is bad, (4) it’s in poor condition. We all know that. Your problem here is you’re listed with someone who is afraid to be honest with you.
I’ve been helping several agents recently with their listings and marketing through consulting, and I have found some very simple fixes above price, condition and location that MIGHT be the cause for lack of showings or lack of offers above the biggees. Ask your agent today to check these things or audit them yourself.
Problem 1: The home isn’t mapping in the MLS system. Many agents search for properties in the agent-only section of the MLS via the “Mapping” feature. When the home is being data entered into RealTracs, one typo or not checking the “geo-coding” can cause your home not to show up to the agent. Remember, 78% of buyers report that they found their home through their agent.
Problem 2: Your pictures suck. You should expect only professional level photography in this type of market. If your agent shows up with a point and shoot camera, this should be flag #1. Lighting, angles, point of view and equipment matter. I listed a home recently that was on the market with another agent for over 30 days and had average photos. The sellers said they received three showings before releasing their agent. In 29 days, with my marketing, we had 33 showings and an accepted offer.
Problem 3: The square footage, bedroom numbers or bathroom totals were incorrectly entered. My heart breaks every time I think of a story I had in Green Hills a few years ago. A home was priced amazingly well and had been on the market for over 250 days. A senior couple owned it and had used “a friend” to list the home. The “friend” entered it in the MLS as a 1 bedroom, 1 bath with 1200 square feet. In actuality, it was a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home with well over 2300 AMAZING square feet. To top it off, it had no pictures either. I called the agent’s broker and reported it immediately after I had a buyer ask to see it via a drive-by, however, you may not be so lucky if you’re not on a major thoroughfare!
Problem 4: The narrative and wording isn’t present or simply stinks. In the MLS, agents can enter “Remarks” that the consumers see on all the websites (quiet, cul de sac street on level acreage), “Realtor Remarks” which are for agents only (agent bonus of $500, disclosures are available at…) and “Photo Captions” which appear below of the photos and allow 250 characters (Sitting on a large corner lot, the seller is providing a one-year home warranty and is willing to pay up to $4000 in closing costs). Is your agent using all these text areas to tell your story?
Problem 5: Your representative has a bad reputation in the agent community. Stock is too heavy and life is too short for agents and consumers to deal with jerks. Ask other agents candidly about your agent’s involvement in the REALTOR community. While our code of ethics is clear that we can’t bad-mouth another REALTOR, if you ask around enough in your community or find former agents, you’ll get the scoop (See Section 15 of the NAR Code of Ethics). If a buyer’s agent has seven homes that are perfect for his/her buyer and your home is one of those perfect seven, why would he/she show the home of an agent that has a lose-win attitude, doesn’t return calls or hasn’t upheld the ethics the “good ones” keep. Is that fair? No. Is it illegal? No. A buyer’s agent is actually representing his/her client BEST by safegarding them from potentially difficult negotiations and contract situations. Ask your agents about the designations they hold (all the letters that make no sense to you after their name), their involvement in their association, the awards they’ve won outside of sales production or better yet, check out their RECENT education history here: http://licsrch.state.tn.us/
Problem 6: You don’t have enough visuals. Again, we are in a heavy stock cycle, and buyers are “stalking” home on the net first. If 45 homes fit their needs, they will likely look at the ones they’ve seen the most of. If your home has been on the market for over 90 days, recently, the MLS migrated to allow agents to upload 20 photos instead of the previous 10. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen three or six photos presented on a 2000+ sq ft home!
Problem 7: Your home hasn’t been connected with the correct agents. As all real estate is local, there are ways to analyze the area to see what buyer’s agents sold the most three bedroom homes in 37204 in 2009 so far. Your agent should know the agents in your home’s sales feature price range and expose your address to them. When I listed a home recently in Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, while out of my primary territory, you better believe I paid a courier $150 to deliver information to the top 80 agents who had sold homes there. You better believe I offered incentives to those top agents to come out and preview it. (8/22/2009 note: Home went under contract within 14 days and is closed!)
Problem 8: The buyers’ agents can’t get in! This is my top pet peeve when I’m representing a buyer!! Most agents have a showing desk to set up the showings. If your agent handles the showings directly, this is a big red flag! “Oh, Mr. Seller, I always have my phone with me and this assure you will get the showing AND I will be able to speak to the agent myself to prep them.” This is pure bull crap! WEEKLY, YES, WEEKLY I call within 24 to 48 hours to show a home and at least one or two of the homes don’t get a return call. I’ve called many an agent’s supervisor and had some nice talks!
Additionally on Problem 8, as stupid as it sounds, check the key often and make sure it still works to the correct door and the lock box is clearly available. The key to my personal home stopped working last month alone! While I always call the agent and tell them there’s an issue with the key, many agents won’t. Consumers may be coming to your door, never getting in, finding another home and you never know! I had another key two weeks ago on one of my listings stop working, too. Obvious, but a potential problem!
Problem 9: Your home has expired or been withdrawn. Last week, my heart broke when I entered a home of the sweetest lady. She couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t find her home listed on-line. More issues than that existed, but the biggest issue was that the home had expired from the MLS, and she had no clue. Every agent in Tennessee is required to give you a copy of everything you have signed within 24 hours of signature. Her agent had not done this; so, she had no way of knowing she was out of contract and had been off the market for over a month!
Problem 10: The buyer’s agents commission is not competitive. While there are no set commission rates for real estate, the more commission you are paying your agent, the more commission the buyer’s agent will make. If a home fits my buyer’s needs, I will show it regardless of commission offered, however, many agents don’t share this opinion. In the new Tennessee Association of REALTORS listing agreement (which is widely used across the state, on line 81 of page 2 [as of 7/10/2009] there is a blank that shows you what the buyer’s agent will receive. If your agent hasn’t shown you their value enough to the point you’ve asked them to discount their normal rate, you need to make sure they are not placing your home in an inferior commission position. What percentage the listing agent shares with the buyer’s agent is between those two agents, you NEED to know what that percentage is.
Problem 11: You! So many times we want to point the finger at the agent or his/her marketing deficiencies, however sometimes you’re the problem. You are consistently turning down appointments or you don’t check your voicemail to confirm showings until the showing request time has long passed. As kindly as possibly, I remind my sellers in the listing consultation of these obvious principles. If you want to sell, you have to show! A few Fridays ago, I was trying to show my buyers a home and had been canceled on TWICE by the owner’s daughter. If an agent is working to get you the showings, but Aunt Erma’s overnight stay, Sally’s birthday party or your need for an extra two hours of sleep on Saturday morning is causing you to say “no” to the showings, you need (1) to not be on the market or (2) find an agent who will keep you in line (kindly, of course).