What if I don’t get any offers?

You’ve had your open house and…crickets. What went wrong?

The easy answer is – it’s always the price. Folks who have been looking for a home for a while are very educated consumers – maybe even more educated than your real estate agent when it comes to that specific little niche of the market that includes your home. If the price isn’t in line with similar homes that they’ve seen, they know it. If you’ve seen a number of places for $500,000 that all had beautifully renovated kitchens, for example, and this kitchen is from 1950, you’re going to feel disappointed. You’re going to have a negative attitude toward the home so rather than just putting in a lower offer, you’re most likely just going to walk away. Instead of feeling like: oh this house is amazing but I just can’t afford it, they’re feeling like: I expected more. It’s hard to win that buyer back to the house, even if you lower the price. It’s not easy to overcome that initial disappointment.

Before you get all defensive and tell me how great your house is and all of the work that you’ve done and all of its special features, hear me out. By price, I mean that the price of the home is too high compared to its perceived value. What can you do to increase the perceived value of your home? First, let’s try to figure out the disconnect between what you feel about the home and what buyers are seeing:

Scenario 1: You had an open house but nobody came – this means that before they even saw the house, buyers already knew they didn’t like your home at that price. Maybe it’s the neighborhood reputation, size, color, something in the description but most likely it’s the photos. When the majority of buyers see a home that fits their criteria and budget, the first thing they do is look at the pictures. If your agent just snapped some pics with his cellphone, that immediately translates – partly subliminally – to a low-budget home. The lighting is rarely optimal in cellphone photos so the home either looks dark and gloomy or washed out and dull. You want your home to sparkle and that requires professional lighting, real cameras, and an artistic eye.

Especially during COVID time, every property should have a virtual floor plan that allows buyers to see the flow of the rooms and even to see if their couch will fit. Regardless of the listing price, all sales listings should have these minimal features. If your agent doesn’t offer them or asks you to pay for them, you may want to look for someone who is not on a low budget themselves, an agent who has the resources to market your home in the best possible light.

In the Boston market right now, there is a shortage of buyers looking for homes that are priced just below the luxury tier. For example, a single-family home priced at $500,000 or less will have a lot of potential buyers. A condo priced at $750,000 will have a fraction of the number of people interested. This price range represents a special marketing challenge and you’ll need an agent who has some experience behind her. Newer agents or those who have only been in the business during the upcycle, are not likely to have the skills to present the home in the best light to attract the attention of qualified buyers.

Scenario 2: You had an open house and tons of people came but you didn’t get any offers – this means that your home is priced right for the area and that the marketing was able to attract buyers into the home but when they arrived, something turned them off. This would likely be something that was not immediately evident from the photos, like an awkward floor plan, location near something undesirable (like a cemetery, bar, auto repair, etc. something buyers would view as being noisy, smelly, bad vibes, or attracting people they don’t want to encounter late at night). Sometimes the agent or seller makes a decision to leave off photos of something in the house that isn’t up to par, like an outdated kitchen or yard that has gone wild. That can really backfire as formerly excited buyers are let down by the reality of the home. Always disclose anything that you’d want someone to tell you about the house. You’ll feel better and, although you may have less open house traffic, the people who come are the ones who are comfortable with the flaw. Because they knew about the problem before, they won’t feel disappointed when they see it in person.

When you’re thinking of buying a home, you have to be able to envision yourself living there. That’s very hard to do when the house very obviously belongs to someone else. Personal photos, unusual art, paint color that is not neutral, collections, lots of clutter – and certainly the current resident being present at the showing – all inhibit people’s ability to picture themselves in the house. Even if you’re selling your own home, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to be there during the open house instead of you so buyers feel comfortable opening closets, asking questions, and snuggling into the idea of making it their own.

The people who came weren’t qualified buyers. Some homes attract a lot of people who are just curious or want to see the inside – like if you’re a celebrity or if most of the neighbors have never been inside your home. In that case, it’s helpful for your agent to ensure that anyone who enters the home has at the very least been pre-qualified by a lender. This means they’re more likely to be an actual buyer for your home.

If you see that you may have made some mistakes in marketing or pricing the home, you may think: oh well, I’ll just drop the price or take new photos. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Many of the people looking for a home like yours have already seen it and formed their opinion. Although it’s not impossible to recapture their attention and get a second chance, it’s naturally better to do it right the first time. If you feel you could have done better, please call me so we can talk about a strategy to revive the listing in a way that will WOW buyers and give you a second chance to make a great impression.

I hope this situation doesn’t happen to you but if it does, know I’m here to help

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