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Property Inspector: Why is my house not selling?

Go Local - July 2012

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741TheMoveChannel.com's Property Inspector, taking a closer look at global real estate each month. It's July, it's sunny, people are in a good mood - it's the perfect time to sell your house. But this month, the Property Inspector examines one of the greatest real estate mysteries of all: failing to sell your home.

The inspector interrogates Matt Cook, Account Manager at Sell My Property an international listings service for private sellers, to get the best tips and tricks for finding a buyer.

Matt, is there a set of key factors that prevents people from selling their house?

There are some key things that people slip up on. The biggest one is probably price. It's all about knowing the market you're in, knowing the competition and understanding where you are.

Is it a case of being realistic with your asking price?

It's very easy to get carried away and think: "This is what I bought my house for." Sometimes, depending on where you are, especially in the current economic climate, you have to bite the hard truth and shift the price down to sell. For example, there are some fantastic villas in Cyprus and Greece for sale on our network where owners initially started listing their homes for 800,000 euros, but they can't find an interested buyer. One of our sellers has just slashed his all the way down to 200,000 euros.

Celebrity homes are often in the news with price cuts of several million dollars to try and attract a buyer. But smaller discounts, say a couple of thousand, can make a difference too, right?

Exactly. The way we have the system set up on Sell My Property, you can change the price whenever you want, so if you're not getting much interest, you can trim it down a little bit, say by 5 per cent, and see what happens. Take it one step at a time.

What about having the quality of house to match your asking price? Are repairs and renovations worthwhile?

If it's within your budget, it can be worthwhile. Some properties are sold as investment opportunities with renovations still to be done, but if you're looking to sell to buyers who want a holiday home and it's within your budget, make those repairs.

What about something as simple as a fresh lick of paint? Can that help?

Absolutely. When you walk down a street, you can see the houses that look like they've been looked after. If all it takes is to get someone in to tidy up the front, then by all means do it.

We've talked before about bad property photos in listings - images of people with no clothes on, messy rooms, and so on - but what other mistakes do people make with their listings?

You get some descriptions that don't tell you anything, with vague information and not enough details. As part of our service, we have a full description box of 8,000 characters - that's more than enough for most sellers to enter clear, concise information about the area they're in and include the main selling points of the property. If it has a swimming pool, mention it has a swimming pool!

Is there anything else that can be done?

We've had one private seller recently who shot two music videos on his property, which show off his garden and his home! That's interesting - it's the kind of thing that definitely stands out.

So videos can help advertise your home. Is it about creativity as well?

If you've got that edge that makes your house that little more interesting, something that hooks in the buyer, then brilliant. One seller in America made a home cooking video of his kitchen. He literally sat in his kitchen and created a home cooking video. If there's a stand-out feature of your house, find a way to highlight it. That's all you need sometimes.

Summer is often considered the peak time for selling property - is that true?

Potentially. On the other hand, if you list your property, say, in the winter, when fewer people are listing, you'll possibly have less competition and may get more exposure. Timing can be important.

Right. I've got a house with a good selling point. I've listed it for sale online, I've been realistic in my pricing, I've thought about when I'm selling, I've got a clear description and attractive photos. Is it now just a case of getting exposure?

Yes. It is a numbers game. If no-one's looking at your property listing, no-one's going to buy it; if 100 people are looking, there's a greater chance one of them will be a genuine buyer who is genuinely interested in your property. Anything you can do to increase your exposure and get your clicks is vital and will vastly improve your odds.

Listen to the full investigation.