MSN wants to know: What makes a property languish on the MLS?

Hi all. I'm working on a slideshow for MSN about the most common issues/problems that make some houses linger on the MLS for a year or more.  Agents, what are the biggest stumbling blocks you see? Is it a price that is too high, a bad location, horrible condition. What are the 8 or 10 most common issues. I welcome your comments and anecdotes about houses you have toured or sold.

Thanks!
Melinda Fulmer
MSN Real Estate
  • February 19 2013 - US
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Answers (20)

It could be a variety of reasons: overpriced, seller will not reduce as they have a set price in mind; difficult to show (sometimes tenants do not want to be bothered);needs too many repairs; I have seen short sales on the market for over a year and will not show assuming the lender is not cooperating with the short sale process
  • February 19 2013
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Languish is not a word I have ever heard used in real estate before. Asking why a property remains unsold on the market would be more in line of what I am use to being asked.

Problems include:

1. Price

2. Price

3. Condition

4. Location

5. Price

All these can make a property   Languish.
  • February 19 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Ugly photos.
A price that is too high for a dated house to allow for any updating.
Strong smells or too many animals in the property.
Renters in the property.
Cheap fixes done just before the MLS listing that show shoddy workmanship.
Ugly neighbor houses that you can see from the listed property.

All that being said, the right price will overcome almost ANY buyer objection: bad neighbors, bad school, ugly, dated, bad floor plan, old paint, dryrot etc. You just have to price the house low enough to attract the pool of buyers you think it will appeal to.
  • February 19 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
My first house had dozens of windows that needed replacement. It had no functional water heater, no functional heater and a yard that had not been taken care of. It was painted ketchup and mustard on the outside.

No one wanted it because it was ugly. I saw value because the house was in a good neighborhood, had excellent schools and had the square footage to more than support the price. It also had a long life roof and terrific spaces.

It was on the market for over a year with significant price drops over and over again. I decided to finally make an offer after the price got close enough to what I was willing to pay. It was the best house I have ever had both from a resale perspective and to live in with my family. Ugly is a buyers best friend.
  • February 19 2013
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All that is already listed are very good answers. Along with Price comes Location. Also if a house needs too many repairs while others around it in the same price bracket don't then there you have a problem.  Not as many buyers today have a vision to be able to look past fixing things. Not many buyers want to take on a project. 
  The house might smell of pets, smoke, mold. Perhaps it is stigmatised so buyers agents won't show it. The longer a house sits on the market the more it does get stigmatised as in "what is wrong with that house" and "why hasn't it sold?"  
  Of course all problems and pitfalls can be overcome by money but it takes a motivated seller and a interested buyer to get it done.  
  • February 19 2013
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Variable on the wants and needs of any and all potential market buyers.  Remember, the strike price of an opened transaction/contract will be at willing buyer - willing seller point.  That being said, here are a few we've run into over time:1) Location, location...(you've heard it before).  You can always change the look, usability, feel, and design of a house, you cannot change its location (desireable location or not?).  Many factors here including use for the area, schools, recreation potential, etc.  2) Price - many sellers predicate asking price on "what they want", "what they need", "what my neighbor says", and other emotional selling factors - "this is the home I grew up in...."  3)  Appeal - could be priced at the same sales price as the last few in the area (location again) and not have the same appeal - personalized paint job, no curb appeal, frat house (Animal House comes to mind), interior design and floor plan is not usable, etc.  4) Time - the property is "novel" and new to buyers and brokers/agents when it hits th emarket.  If the Seller is saying "I'll do that staging thing if it doesn't sell in 6 months" or things like that, in order to not put the best fot forward out of the shoots and in the novelty (new phase craze) time period, it is a mistake.  Days on Market (DOM) can have lingering and adverse effects on price.  Hope this helps.  Cheers!
  • February 19 2013
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Hi Melinda,

While price is usually the main reason, I think poor quality photos are also a reason why a home could linger on the market. If a buyer isn't excited about a home after seeing it on line, they won't want to see it in person. I also think a home should be properly staged, especially vacant homes.
  • February 19 2013
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Price, condition, and location. If it is overpriced it will never sell, unless you are in an excellent location, and or an it is an extraordinary home in some way, and then people will at least be willing to make an offer. 

If the condition is bad, or even just dated, the only way to sell is fix it, or lower the price to compensate. And the only way to fix a bad location is to compensate with a lower price. 
  • February 19 2013
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Profile picture for blub blub blub
Location may be a reason that a house is not selling, but I'm not sure that that is an MLS issue, just a location/price issue. 

I would say bad photos are probably the biggest MLS issue.  A property could be in a great location, but the photos may not do it justice.

Case in point.  Directly off the MLS


Roomy, inviting and plenty of storage space.
  • February 19 2013
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It's a cliche, but the three biggest factors in real estate are: location, location, location. However, this cannot be changed by the seller or the broker. What they can do, however, is to:

1. Lower the price
2. Improve the presentation
3. Change the availability (a property that requires a signed P&SA before viewing is going to be harder to sell than one that is vacant with a key box)
4. Improve the value (fix, clean, et cetera)

  • February 19 2013
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Wow. Those pics are really something! I wonder what the agent was thinking... I might use one. What city or area's MLS did those photos come from?

And thanks to those of you who responded with helpful comments! 

Best,
Melinda
MSN
  • February 20 2013
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Profile picture for blub blub blub
Those photos are not even the worst I've seen, just happened to come across them the other day.   They are from a listing in Chicago.  Nice building where units are selling quickly.

  • February 20 2013
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I wouldn't have put up those pics at all. But if you show up to take pics and every room looks like that, what can you do? I once spent over 4 hours moving enough stuff to get a very few pics. It is the agent's job to TELL the seller to clean and declutter, not to actually clean and declutter. 
  • February 20 2013
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Profile picture for Ron Redfern
PRICE
In my market the only reason a property would stay on the market for longer than 3 months would be that the price is too high.
I see listings all the time that do not have any pictures and while that irritates me I will investigate if the price is right.
Price will overcome any objection.

Have a remarkable day!

Ron
  • February 20 2013
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Profile picture for blub blub blub
Cindy I wouldn't have put those pictures up either.  I would have made the seller straighten the place up before taking pictures.  If the agent doesn't want to take the time to go back when things are in order, then they are better off not putting up any pictures, or use pictures of the exterior, parking, or surrounding area photos instead.

As a buyer, would you even want to go look at something like this?  Unless this is the only thing available or best location, or amazing price, most buyers will probably pass on the listing, especially if there are other options, simply from the pictures.

Buyers are sifting through numerous listings and making snap decisions as to which ones they want to go see, especially when viewing things on the internet. Most don't stay on a page or site for very long.  You need to grab them right away. The listing needs to be the shiny penny in the group so it stand above the other options.

Agents that put these kind of pictures up are only doing the listing harm.  They don't even show anything.  What good is a picture of a bed with junk all over it or one of shoes doing?  Tells me that there is a storage issue, perhaps it may not be as clean as many would like it to be, lack of care for the property, and just overall yuk.  No thanks. Why would I want to buy that one when I could buy one that has been well kept. So then the only other thing to do is drop the price to try and attract a buyer that is willing to overlook a lot.

Pictures are the first impression and will set the tone.  If it starts off bad, it will only get worse and any little thing will become an issue.  Can't imagine seeing this place in person is any better.
  • February 20 2013
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Bad pictures, or, worse yet, no pictures.
  • February 20 2013
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1) Price
2) Location
3) Title Issues
4) Physical Condition
5) Design or Structural Problems
6) Undesirable Surroundings
  • February 20 2013
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Question for "blub": What was the address or # for those Chicago area photos off the MLS? If I can pull them from our partner or an agent, it's easier to use them.

Thanks! Unbelievable.

Melinda
MSN
  • February 24 2013
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Profile picture for JimOrlando
It ALWAYS comes down to price!!
Regardless of condition if it was priced low enough it would sell. Taken to the extreme... a tear down priced for $1 will sell.  A tear down priced at the market value of a move in ready home in the same neighborhood will not.
Everything else is spin off of the price.
There is no issue for a home that a low enough price will not cure for a buyer... the skill comes in getting it to the price that triggers the buyer to buy and the seller to sell it to them.  This will usually net the seller a fair price.  (I said fair, lol, not necessarily what the seller wants to net.)
  • February 24 2013
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I agree it could be a variety of reasons but it all boils down to price, doesn't it?  Property is placed on the MLS not for location, or bad floor plans but for $$$$$.
  • February 24 2013
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