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What to do if you aren’t getting the buyer interest you want

Excerpt from the book: How to sell your home fast for the highest price. Published by BuySell. Copyright © 2019 -
Ask your agent about the current absorption rate of similar listings in your area. Under normal circumstances in urban areas, listings get a substantial number of online visits within the first 10 days. That means that when online viewers see your listing in email alerts, on social media, or in an Internet search they usually click on it to view more details. If your property doesn’t attract any visits, you should reconsider the presentation and pricing of your listing.

Your agent’s job is to convert online visitors to actual viewings of your property. Your agent should monitor the performance of your listing and identify any negative issues early in the marketing process before is too late. If online visitors do not find your listing attractive enough to click on it, that either means that the presentation and photos aren’t attractive or that your price is too high. Buyers don’t even bother to click on overpriced listings. They only click on a listing if they know that the price is affordable and within a reasonable range of the average market price.

Remember that if you fail to attract interest within the first eight weeks having your property listed for sale, you will miss the golden window for getting the buyers’ attention. If your listing isn’t getting the interest you want, don’t expect that interest to kick in later. Low initial interest is usually a sign of overpricing. If you are sure that your price is right and you still aren’t getting any interest, then you should check the performance and marketing capabilities of your estate agent.

What to do if your home isn’t “moving” even if your price is right

Let’s assume that your price is right, and you have used the most productive estate agent in your area, but your property has been on the market unsold for an extended period of time. Months and months have passed, and very little interest has been shown in your property. Such a scenario is common in areas with very low demand or when you are selling a high-value property which is way above the median selling price. Demand for properties way above the median price is low. Very few people can afford expensive properties. The absorption rate for expensive properties is low so you need a lot of patience until you find the right buyer for one of them.

Very often sellers are disappointed and take the property off the market or they drop the price. There are cases of sellers who are so fed up and can’t wait any longer, so they drop the price dramatically to dump the property and get rid of it.

Before you take any drastic action, we recommend taking a different approach. First, try to regenerate your listing. Look at your competition and adjust your price accordingly. On the high-end properties, there is always more supply than demand. There are many similar and better homes than yours on the market. Second, check your property photos and description. Does the property description include all your house’s benefits? Try to outbid the competition. 

You can also try to take the property off the market for a few weeks and republish your listing again with a new look. Such a move will regenerate interest from buyers who have entered the market since you first listed your property. So your property will reach new buyers who aren’t aware of the history of your listing. 

The characteristics of hard to sell houses and how to get rid of them

You may be wondering why some houses do not sell even if they are priced right. I am talking about houses in desirable locations where there are lots of sales and houses in excellent condition. 

Let’s look at the factors that can negatively affect the saleability of houses and analyse the reasons why they do not sell.

Homes on a busy road

After buying a home there is some things that you will probably never be able to change. The most annoying factor when living in a home is noise pollution. Noise pollution is generally any sound that most people find disturbing, for example, road traffic, planes, boats, and anything else that surrounds a home and the neighbourhood. 

Noise pollution can negatively affect the price of your home. Traffic noise outside of your bedroom window won’t attract a buyer. 

If you have a house on a noisy street, you may be wondering what you can do and how to sell it. With a little bit of creative work, you can make your home more attractive to the potential buyers. However, you should have realistic expectations and accept that your home does have a disadvantage that will have a significant negative impact on its price and saleability. It is a matter of supply and demand. There are far fewer people who will consider buying a house on a busy road than in a quiet neighbourhood. Especially for families with young kids in addition to the noise of a busy street, the safety of living in such a location is an additional disincentive.

Start with your landscaping. Check if you can plant some trees that will absorb some of the traffic noise. Experts suggest a special noise reduction wooden fence that will absorb much of the noise from the street traffic. Or construct a stone wall, which will also absorb noise and will work as a visual barrier to the noisy street. 

Adding a water feature is another way of balancing the street noise with the pleasant sound of streaming water. Add a couple of reading sofas so that your buyers imagine themselves spending quiet time in that room. 

If your budget permits, install noise-reducing windows and shutters to make the interior of your house completely silent. If you can afford to install them, then it is a good idea to do so quickly so that when buyers visit your home, they will be surprised at how quiet it is inside. 

Noise is relative. Loud doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. People who grew up in busy megacities are more tolerant of noise than people who grew up in a quiet neighbourhood of a small town or village. Don’t be the one who mentions the noise issue first. If the buyers don’t mention it or seem not to mind, there is no need to open that discussion.

Check if you can turn the high traffic into an advantage. For instance, if you can’t sell your home, you should also consider whether or not it can be converted from a residential to a commercial property, such as a retail shop or an office building. The value of your home may be negatively affected by a busy road when it is compared with similar homes in quiet neighbourhoods. But if your home is converted to a retail shop or an office, the market value will be comparable to similar commercial properties in the area. In fact, sometimes the commercial value of a property on a busy road is higher than the value of a home. Your home may be the dream location for an entrepreneur who is be looking for somewhere to open their new business.

Houses with an undesirable layout

One major factor that sometimes put people off buying a particular house is the floor plan design. Sometimes the design of the house is so bad that it makes it difficult to live in. For example, if you have a house in an area with fantastic sea views and all of your bedrooms face the back of your house, it will be hard to sell. Another common example of a house type very few people will buy is what we call the upside-down house. 

Upside down house design is when a house has the bedrooms on the ground floor and the living room and kitchen on the first floor. Why are they are designed like this? Sometimes, if the plot is below street level, architects choose to make the living room and kitchen at street level. From the main entrance which is on the street level, you walk straight from the street into the kitchen and living room and downstairs are the bedrooms.

The feedback we’ve received from thousands of clients shows that people avoid buying upside-down houses. There are three main reasons why. 

The first reason has to do with safety. Psychologically people do not like going downstairs to sleep. People feel safer when they know that their bedroom isn’t on the ground floor. When your bedroom is on the first or a higher floor you know that no one can walk in or jump in your bedroom through your window. And, in addition in summer, you can safely leave your window open and enjoy a cool breeze while you sleep.

The second thing that makes upside down houses less desirable is the compromise of privacy. Every house design keeps private areas separate from public areas. Public areas are the ones that you share with the whole family and guests, like the living room and kitchen. The private area of your house is where your bedrooms are. If your bedrooms are on the ground floor and your kitchen and living room is on the first floor there is a penetration of public area to your private area. Every time you need to go out to your garden you will have to pass through the bedrooms level. Psychologically we feel that our privacy is compromised when people enter or pass through the private level of our house. The violation of your privacy is even worse when you have guests who have to pass through your bedroom level to go out to your pool and garden.

Noise from the upper floor is the third reason why many people avoid buying upside-down houses. If you have kids playing in your living room downstairs, you can go upstairs and sleep in a quiet bedroom. However, if your house is upside-down and you go downstairs to sleep while your kids play on the living room above you will hear every move they make when they run or play with their toy cars.

So, if you happen to own one of these hard-to-sell houses, you may have to make a huge price reduction to attract a buyer. Your house must be listed at a much lower price than the average houses in your area. Unfortunately, no matter how good your location and house condition is, if you are in the unfortunate situation of having a house with an undesirable floor plan, you may need to make a significant price reduction to achieve a sale.

The best home in the worst neighbourhood

Imagine that you own a super luxury villa with a large garden in a rundown neighbourhood of old apartment buildings. Obviously, this will have a negative effect on the value of your home. 

According to the third axiom of urban economics, externalities cause inefficiency. Externalities can have a negative or positive impact on the value of your property. For example, if there is a neglected apartment building next to your house, don’t expect to get the same price as a similar house sold in another neighbourhood where there are only luxury detached houses of similar size.

A buyer who can spend the money needed to buy a house similar to yours would will to live in a neighbourhood that is representative of the value of the money spent for the house. A buyer may choose to buy a house not as nice as yours for more money, but in a location where it is surrounded by more upmarket houses.

Buyers aren’t only concerned about the actual house they will live in, but also about the image of the neighbourhood. Any buyer will think about the impression friends and relatives will get when they visit. Buyers don’t want to lose face by bringing their friends and neighbours into their new villa if it is situated on a street with low-priced apartments or abandoned buildings.

Mammoth houses

House size matters when selling your home, but negatively. Houses that are bigger than the average house size are more difficult to sell. If you are selling a one thousand square meter mansion on a five thousand square meter plot you should not expect buyers to line up to buy it. Buyers won’t find your house attractive just because it is huge and impressive. The bigger the house it is, the harder it is to sell.

Think about the likely buyers. Young generation and first-time buyers can’t afford such big houses. The average family doesn’t have the time to deal with the maintenance of such a big house. Retired people want to relax, and they can’t work day and night to maintain a mansion nor do they have to deal with cleaning all the rooms which they never use. And, no one wants to maintain a house with monthly expenses which are equal to, or exceed their income.

If you are targeting the Russian oligarchs or the super oil-rich Arabs from the Middle East, bear in mind that your competition is huge. There are thousands of such mansions for sale, and very few buyers available to buy such properties.

That means if you have a huge mansion to sell, you won’t find it as easy as you think. I know a lot of huge houses which have stayed on the market for years. For example, in my area, there is a very nice 1,200 square meter house that has been on the market for seventeen years and still hasn’t sold, although the asking price now is lower than the cost of buying the same patch of land and building on it. 

Bear in mind that the small percentage of people who can afford this type of house usually prefer to build something from scratch and customize it for themselves. So even that small number of buyers will be difficult to match with your own mega-mansion for sale.

Andy K.

Copyright © 2019

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