What Should You Do If Your House Isn't Selling?
You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression.
I've always had a pretty eclectic taste in music. Back in high school and university, I was into what would now be considered "old school" hip-hop and R&B (man, I still love it), plus any kind of rock, dance, freestyle... you name it. I played guitar through high school too. When I went to Waterloo for university, my favourite nights out were the hip-hop nights at Fed Hall on campus and Revolution night club in downtown Waterloo. Good times, let me tell you! Lately, I've gotten more and more into country music. Wifey hates it. I find it soothing. Most times when I'm driving to showings, I'll stick on some country music to relax and stay calm. It's probably why my clients often tell me I'm so relaxed at showings ;) I find there's a calm simplicity to country music. It oddly reminds me of the show Seinfeld. The whole premise was that it was a show about nothing, where "stuff" just happens in their day-to-day lives and they made a show about it. I kinda feel like country music is the same. If you listen to the lyrics, it's usually just "stuff" that happened to the artist that day, and they made a song about it. Case in point:
"Everybody's got a problem, so do I
But we ain't gonna solve 'em on a Saturday night
I just put a paycheck in the bank
And I ain't hit the town in a minute to drink
You had one of them, one of those weeks
Stuck on repeat, I'll save you a seat"
Simple. Uncomplicated. Yet effective. Wifey still thinks I'm weird.
I often think about country music when I'm planning to list a property for sale. Oftentimes, it's the simple things that yield the most success. I can't tell you how many sellers have asked me "Adil, what's your marketing strategy for our property?" I'm always confused by this because I truly wonder if they are expecting an answer like "well, we're going to feature your 550 sq ft 1-bedroom condo in Home and Garden magazine, make sure we get international exposure on YouTube, and take out a full-page ad in the Toronto Star"? No joke, this is what I'm literally thinking anytime a seller asks me "what my marketing strategy is".
Quick aside - at one of my more recent listing presentations, I was asked this very question. It was followed up with "and what makes you different than the other agents out there?" I smiled, picked up my phone, and said "see this? I actually answer this when it rings. That's probably what sets me apart from 80% of the other agents out there. You can actually reach me. Call. Email. Text. I will answer. And that will be your competitive advantage when we list too." I got the listing.
To me, "marketing" comes down two things and two things only - presentation and price. That's it. You don't need to over complicate things. Don't over think it. If you present your property well, and price it properly, you've done 95% of the "marketing" you need to get it sold. Then, let the power of MLS do its thing. Simple. Uncomplicated. And effective.
That being said, the concept of "presentation" does have more layers to it. I tell all my seller clients that in order to present your property well, you need to paint it, clean it, and stage it. It's the formula that works time and time again. Paint it, clean it, stage it. Simple. Uncomplicated. Then, professional photography is a must and you absolutely need to make sure the listing is accurate and complete with all the relevant information that a buyer or buyer's agent would need. The listing itself is all you have to showcase your property - so it better look amazing, the copy better be enticing and error-free. Don't confuse buyers. Don't leave them with unanswered questions that can easily be included in the listing itself. Information sells, so give it to them! And super importantly, as a seller, you absolutely need to be on call to allow showings at any time. Don't make it difficult for people to come see your house! Be ready, keep the place spotless, and allow any and all showings. You never know when that one buyer will be available, so be prepared. Finally, and probably as equally important as anything else, you need to price it properly. All your hard work will go to waste if you don't price your property appropriately for the market you are in. It's part science, and part art.
Ok, so you've got a house or a condo listed for a while, and it's not selling. You're asking your agent almost every day "what can we do? Why aren't we getting showings? Why aren't we getting offers"? Ask yourself this:
Did you come out on the market with a bang, and present your property to the world with the best possible first impression? Did you paint it, clean it, and stage it? Did you replace your old burnt out light fixtures? Did your agent get professional photography? Have you, as the seller, actually looked at the listing yourself and found it to be enticing to you? And be honest with yourself. Would you actually buy your own house? If you're not loving your own listing and you know you didn't give it 100%, sometimes, it's not the worst thing in the world to cut your losses and start over. Maybe it's worth taking the property off the market briefly, getting it painted, cleaned, and staged, and presented to the world for a second time in a new light. Some agents will call this a new "marketing strategy". I call it ripping off the Band-Aid and doing what should have been done the first time around.
But not everyone has the luxury of time, or the budget to do so. And let's be honest, if you're selling a tenanted property, there's only so much you can control (check out my post about selling a tenanted property in Toronto).
So what else can you do?
I've seen a lot of tricks that agents will use on MLS to get their listing in front of new agents and buyers. Maybe they'll relist a property at the same price after a few slow weeks so that it shows up as a new listing again with zero days on market, to hopefully catch some new buyers who just started their search (truth be told, it's not the worst trick in the world), or they'll do an insignificant price change (like going from $699,900 to $698,000) just so the listing shows up as an updated listing in people's searches. Or they'll make minor copy changes to the listing so it shows up as an "updated" listing for agents and maybe catch some new attention (a practice that's actually not permitted by TREB). But at the end of the day, these little gimmicks are just that... gimmicks.
For all my listings, I always make sure that the things that I can control (ie, the presentation) are as perfect as possible right out of the gate the first time around. I take a great deal of pride in my listings and if my name is attached to something, it's gotta be pretty darn perfect. So what happens if we do all that and the house or condo still isn't selling? When my clients ask me that, I always answer the same way:
"We've done everything we can from the presentation side. The property is staged, the pictures are amazing, and the listing itself is perfect. But the market isn't responding. The only lever we have control over now is price."
Remember, every property has the ability to sell...for the right price. Sometimes it's just a matter of coming to terms with what that price actually is. No amount of advertising is going to sell an overpriced property, so if you're not selling, the only thing you can do is listen to what the market is telling you and adjust accordingly. But be honest with yourself about whether you've actually presented your place in the best possible way. Did you paint? Did you clean? Did you fix all those little things that you knew you should but just didn't think it mattered? Did you stage? In a rocky market where the stakes are so high for sellers, don't sell yourself short, cut corners, or rush. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it a great one. But if it's too late for that, maybe it's time for a do over. Or a serious price drop.
Have you checked out my previous blog posts?
Your Toronto condo lover,
iPro Realty Ltd, Brokerage
Direct: 647-223-1679 (call/text)