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Teri LaBuwi

By: Teri LaBuwi on May 23rd, 2019

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"Why Isn't My House Selling?"

Contributed by Teri Ann LaBuwi, Realtor with the Eric Stewart Group of Long & Foster

You’ve listed your home for sale and you’ve had showings and more showings but no offers.  If your home has been on the market for 30 days or more, then it is TIME to make some CHANGES.

The average number of days it takes for a home to sell in Northern Virginia is between 7 and 60 days.  This number is different in every area of the country.

For our area, a report from Fairfax County for 2019 indicates that the total homes sold in our area was lower than at this time last year.  If your home has not yet sold, you are not alone.  

why isnt my home sellingWhile the active inventory is less this year than last year at this time, the median sale prices of homes are up this season by 5% over 2018.  The average days on market for a home this season is 36 days, which is a few days longer than it took to sell a home in 2018.

It is an undisputed fact that homes generally sell for the most amount of money during the first 30 days of marketing.  If the home hasn’t sold, buyers will start to ask “What’s wrong?” and begin to speculate there may be flaws which has made the property hard to sell to previous buyers.

While having your home sit on the market is more than frustrating, it’s costing you money.  In an analysis of the U.S. housing market, homes that sold in the first week more often sold at or near the listed price, while homes that sat for 30 days or longer sold for an average of 4% below the list price.

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The longer a listing sits on the market, the more the sale price will fall below list.  Every day that passes without your home selling means your home will probably sell for less. 

But don’t panic.  There are changes you can make to bring the buyers back again.

  1. Pricing a home too high is a common mistake and one of the biggest errors a seller can make.  If you priced the home yourself, you may need to reconsider the fair market value in your area.  If you aren’t getting offers, or your home is priced higher than comparable properties in your area, the number one cause is likely an ambitious price tag.  Most agents recommend a price adjustment every 3-4 weeks.  While it’s no fun to realize your home isn’t worth what you thought it was, remember that you’re not alone… pricing is tricky and often requires tweaking to find the “sweet spot.”
  2. Unique Property. The 30-day rule doesn’t apply to everyone.  Some properties have unique features that make it more difficult to find the right buyer.  Unique properties include very large homes, high-end or expensive homes, homes in unusual areas, or homes with odd or unusual features.  These kind of properties will always take a little longer to match with a buyer, and that’s okay.  To help sell an unusual home, it is important to help buyers picture themselves in the space.  Your agent may call on specialty marketing to reach special buyers, or staging the home to create an emotional appeal factor.  Think about why you bought the home - there is likely another buyer out there who feels the same way.  If your main reason for buying the home included a value price, that might be a solution for you as well.
  3. Your Staging is Questionable. Staged homes sell for more money and in a shorter time frame than vacant homes.  In fact, staged homes sell 87% faster and for 17% more.  Why?  Because buyers can picture their own belongings in the home.  A poorly-staged home can seem cluttered, or dark and small, failing to showcase your home’s assets or highlighting its flaws.  Make little upgrades by painting, repairing anything broken, cleaning up your yard, and do a brutal decluttering pass.  Little cost-effective upgrades will often bring a big return on investment.  Packing up a bunch of your things and sending them to storage or living in a home with furniture that isn’t yours may sound unappealing, but can sell your house faster and for more.
  4. Consider Your Curb Appeal.This is the first impression a buyer gets of your house, either in person or in the online presentation.  An ugly yard or run-down facade will turn people away.  The last thing you want people to think when they come up your walk is “fixer upper.”  A lot of home buying decisions are made “by gut feeling.”  Staging and curb appeal are a part of that emotion.  Homes with lawn care and landscaping have a much greater return on investment.  Upgrade your landscaping, get your grass a brilliant shade of green, plant a few flowers in colorful pots, and fix anything that is obviously broken in the front of your home.
  5. Professional Photos.Most buyers look online today before doing anything else, and because listing photos are so useful, many local MLS portals have increased the number of photos allowed for marketing purposes.  A few poorly-lit iPhone shots don’t cut it - professional photos get 61% more page views.  Good photos, including floor plans can increase the marketability of your home and even the price.  The commission you pay your agent should cover the cost; and if you make notable changes to your property during the listing term, ask your agent if new photos might be useful.
  6. Pay Attention to Feedback. Even if a showing doesn’t provide an immediate buyer, the showing feedback is important.  If the same answer is coming from multiple people, then you know you have a problem.  If multiple buyers believe your house is too dark, or your taste is perhaps too personalized or cluttered, consider packing some things away and bringing in more light.  If buyers are having trouble envisioning something specific, such as where to place a television in a living room full of windows, or how to fit their king-size bed into a smaller master bedroom, updating your staging can help to illustrate a solution.  Unfortunately, some things cannot be changed.  If your home is located on a busy street, or the neighborhood is not as picturesque as the buyers were hoping, then remember the golden rule, Price Cures All.
  7. Listen to Your Agent. While sellers know their homes better than anyone, your agent has the experience to guide you on price, staging, curb appeal, and will take charge of your marketing and responding to feedback from showings.  If you fail to address the feedback your agent is providing, think again.  Many sellers who don’t sell quickly eventually choose to replace their initial agents, in favor of implementing their own strategies, only to learn from their second agent that the first agent was right!  Don’t make costly mistakes with your biggest investment by failing to respond to necessary alterations to Price, Timing, or the Condition of your home.  Get it SOLD!

For more information on what it takes to get your home from SALE to SOLD in any market, contact Teri LaBuwi, The Realtor You Trust, with the Eric Stewart Group of Long & Foster Real Estate at (703) 451-0222, or


Teri LaBuwi, Assoc. Broker

The Realtor You Trust 

Eric Stewart Group, Long & Foster Real Estate (McLean, VA)


For more tips on home selling, be sure to download our Market Ready Guide by clicking the link below.