12. What if our house doesn’t sell?

There are three reasons your property may not sell. Most relate to price being too high. The solutions are listed below:

Buyer interest but no offers

Likely Causes: Property is overpriced

Strategies: Leave the property listed until the market catches up or a buyer comes along prepared to pay your price; Withdraw the property and re-launch later on, possibly with a different agent; Reduce the price.

Lack of buyer interest

Likely Causes: Property is overpriced; poor marketing; poor house presentation; property is unusual design or configuration

Strategies: Better targeted marketing; Reduce the price to appeal to a wider audience; Improve presentation; Change agent to get better marketing; Alterations to house to broaden appeal.

Low offers, cannot get price up

Likely Causes: Property is overpriced

Strategies: Reduce the price; Speak to agent. Discuss with boss of agency about involving other person in negotiations; Change the agent.

If your property hasn’t sold after about 35 days you need to thoroughly review the marketing campaign, the price, and the market generally. Are other properties selling in the area? Why isn’t yours? What has the feedback been from buyers? Has it been about price? Presentation? Are we getting the right types of buyers through?

It is not difficult to change the listing script and rearrange photos online to quite radically change the target market for a listing.

Some agents are better at adapting their marketing than others. If you sense that the agent is inflexible or on the wrong track with marketing, speak to them and possibly their boss to discuss options. In the worst case scenario you may need to change agents. But that is a better alternative than accepting a bad outcome on the sale.

You should review what advertising you are doing—do you have a Highlight Listing online to get the property in front of the buyers? If not, maybe you need to pay for this.

You might want to go from having an unpriced listing to a priced listing, or consider an auction. Price is usually the reason properties don’t sell. Most weaknesses in a campaign can be overcome by reducing price.

Sometimes, the marketing will not be working because the agent isn’t. You get what you pay for. Some sellers engage agents offering to pay for marketing, or who offer discount commission. This may result in less marketing and less service.

Some agents will work hard to get you your price. I have known houses that were listed for twelve months and finally sold at the seller’s price as the market improved. I have known sellers who have rejected early offers only to accept a lower offer some months later, having lost the original buyer to another property.

There is a risk that if your property does not sell it may languish on the market. More expensive properties, such as acreage, may take a while to find the right buyer. In those circumstances you need to be patient, and accept that the house needs to be presentable while it is listed for sale, even if there are only occasional inspections.

Some sellers prefer to withdraw the property for a while then re-list it. Changing agents at this stage might help with a fresh approach. But if the property remains overpriced, don’t expect a different agent to solve that problem. And taking it off the market risks losing the buyer who comes along while the property is not being advertised and buys something else.

At the end of the day, if you decide to reject the best offer received you are, in effect, buying the property back. Contemplate for a moment—if you were buying your house right now, would you pay the amount that you are rejecting for it?

I always remember Alan Bond buying the Nine Network from Kerry Packer for $1 Billion, and Kerry Packer buying it back just three years later for $250M. Don’t reject a good bid because you let emotions get in the way of a great deal.