This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.
Question: I keep hearing how much the Arlington real estate market has recovered, but our house has been sitting on the market for several months and we still don’t have any offers. Any advice you can provide is appreciated.
We’ve already hit a seller’s market surge in 2013 and it is barely February. Almost every offer I have written in the last two months has been against competing contracts. Yet, certain homes sit there collecting days-on-market. You really can’t blame the market anymore. It’s time to look at the items you have control over.
Price – Zillow, tax assessed values and comparable sales (“comps”) do not determine market value. Comps play a big role in determining appraisal value and are often used when trying to predict market value, but the open market is what determines market value. In case it needs to be said… what you owe, paid or would like to make on your home, does not influence market value either.
If people are not coming to see your home then it is usually a good indication that you priced your home higher than what the market is willing to consider. In Arlington you should expect at least one showing per day on average. That number should be substantially higher for homes along the Orange Line.
Waiting is not going to help. If you have over-priced your home, address the issue as early as possible.
Days-On-Market (DOM) – The higher your DOM, the lower the perceived value will be of your home. Potential buyers begin to wonder what’s wrong with the home. They wonder why everyone else has passed it by. They also begin wondering how low they can get you to come down on price. This is why it is important to put your best foot forward as early in the listing process as possible.
If the damage has already been done and you have already racked up a large number of DOM then you need to implement a new strategy. Your strategy should take into consideration the feedback you have received from potential buyers and showing agents. You may also want to interview other agents to gain a fresh perspective of how someone else would help you sell your home.
Another option is to take the home off the market for 90 days to reset your DOM in the MLS. I can’t say I recommend this during the current market.
How it Shows — If your home is vacant and less than beautiful on its own, you may want to have it staged. A good stager is synonymous with a miracle worker. It will help divert attention away from every imperfection. It also goes a long way towards helping the potential buyers envision how they would live there.
Even if the home is already furnished I always bring in a stager to give us advice on setting up the home to show its best in photos and in person. The consultation fee is usually $150 – $350 and is something I think you should expect your agent to cover for you. Email me if you would like recommendations.
I feel for sellers with kids and pets. I know how hard it is to keep your home in “showing condition” and all I can say is continue to do your best.
Easy to Show – If at all possible, don’t be the seller who makes it difficult to show your home. Requesting notice before showing an occupied home is expected, but limiting showings to odd hours or requiring an appointment with the listing agent to see the home is a major detractor.
Photos – Photos are often what creates a first impression (and maybe the only impression) for potential buyers of your home. There is no reason not have have the maximum 30 photos posted for your listing in the MLS, even if you have a tiny 1-bedroom condo. Unless you are listing a tear-down, you should seriously question any agent that has zero, one or only exterior photos posted of your home. If you’ve been a home buyer before you know how quickly you skip past these listings. Bad photos are better than no photos, but do yourself a favor and hire someone with a wide angle lense that knows how to take real estate photographs.