Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Hundreds of home listing evaluations reveal alarming results about why some homes are not selling. Across the country the vast majority of homes that have been on the market for over 100 days show poorly online. The problem goes well beyond house-hold clutter and dark dated decor. Homes that are in appalling condition, trash on the floor, dishes in sinks, shocking wall colors, dead animal heads on the walls, dirty toilets and other various startling conditions are found all over the internet and they are turning away potential buyers in one click. But this doesn't even begin to tell the whole story.
On the surface its baffling gossip but few people are aware of the devastating impact that this 'micro economic crisis' is having on unsuspecting homeowners. When a home is listed for sale and presents or shows poorly online, for whatever reason, it has an immediate and long term effect on the value of the home. The home could be in adequate general condition but if the content or appearance is unattractive or the listing photos are poor quality, the homeowners could potentially spend months or years in limbo, could lose 10s of thousands of dollars and not selling could affect their family's entire future. Real estate agents who do not hold their listings to a minimum standard and post listings that are inadequate or even inappropriate are doing their clients and their field a huge disservice. It's the 'dirty little secret' in the residential real estate industry today and most upstanding agents and brokers with high standards of excellence are shocked and embarrassed by it.
Most Realtors require that their online listing presentations meet a certain set of standards and they often recommend repairs, maintenance and home staging services or tell their home sellers exactly what needs to be done before listing photos are taken. But the other side to the problem is that home Sellers may not take the advice they are given. Even if an agent gives specific feedback, Sellers my refuse to paint over the atrocious wall colors or take down the umpteen dead animal heads or pack up the thousands of trinkets that fill every nook and cranny; then the listing agent has a moral decision to make, take it or leave it.
Unfortunately, as home evaluations reveal, there are some agents who cross the line of integrity when they post listing photos that are clearly detrimental to a sale and will knowingly devalue a property. There is just no excuse for photos of trash and extreme mess, excessive stuff that inhibits a buyer's ability to see the home, “fat kids are harder to kidnap poster” in the dining room, dark green sludge in the “hand crafted fish pond” or dirty laundry, dirty toilets, dirty dishes and so on.
It is the rogue agent who compromises industry standards and shows blatant lack of ethics which can cause the home seller long term economic hardship impacting their quality of life and their personal and financial well-being. A loss of $50k or $100k could make the difference in a child going to college or going to work. It could mean the inability to follow a lifelong dream. A home not selling could mean a missed career opportunity. It could be the stress that causes a marriage to collapse. It could be a missed opportunity for a retirement investment. One may never know the exponential impact a home seller could ultimately suffer.
Home Sellers need to understand that they are ultimately responsible and have the option to take the appropriate steps to prepare their home for sale so that it presents and shows well. They need to be diligent in selecting a Realtor with high standards and integrity and who will do the best job for them.
“Getting a home ready for sale in today's market is much different than it used to be. It goes way beyond cleaning, de-cluttering and karate chopping pillows” says Teri Allen, Owner of Online Staging Pro. “With the role that the internet plays in the real estate game, it's critically important that sellers pay attention to how their home looks or shows in every aspect of a sales listing. They need to consider how their home may look in a photo as small as the size of a postage stamp when viewed on a smart phone or mobile device.”
In their latest report, Online Staging Pro identified The 7 Deadly Listing Sins which can kill any potential sales opportunity. These Sins all have to do with how a home listing presents or shows on the internet:
Home in Poor Condition Realtors avoiding Difficult Conversations with Sellers Sellers not fixing the Major Buyer Turn-offs Too Much Stuff – Including Furniture Not enough Information to tell a Memorable Story Bad Photo Presentation – Quality/Clarity/Quantity Not Checking their Listing on Internet Sites *** Bonus Sin – Leaving the Toilet Seat up in Photos
The report examines the dynamics of the listing lifecycle and emphasizes the perishable nature of the process. If a home goes on the market in poor condition, it gets little attention and slowly begins to fall in search results. Day by day the listing slowly ages and the perceived value declines as the months drag on. The report shares case studies of homes that have fallen victim to several of these Deadly Sins.
The listing photos show the home completely trashed; broken furniture, a lone wetsuit dangling from a wire in a closet, a stuffed animal hanging from a noose, junk, toys and trash in every room and backyard. The home was not vandalized, it looks like the family packed up what they wanted and forgot to come back to clean up before the photo shoot. The same appalling photos were posted on another website, but after the original set, was a second set of photos with the house cleaned up. Someone took better photos but didn't take the old ones down. Outcome: 300+ Days on Market. 4 Price Reductions = $40k. A similar house on the same street sold in 33 days for the asking price.
This really cute little vintage home in a trendy downtown neighborhood has not sold in over 200 days on the market. The walls in every room are painted in a variety of bright, bold, vivid colors. The price has dropped a whopping $94,000!!! The home is in a popular area and beautiful otherwise, clean and tastefully furnished, shined hardwood floors, cute exterior, nice big back yard but the walls are off putting by anyone's standards. Outcome: 200+ Days on Market. 5 Price Reductions = $94k
This particular home has dead animal heads in almost every room and hallway. It's so shocking that potential buyers can NOT see past the prized hunted trophy heads. We counted 10 heads in one room with a bonus animal skin on the floor. Going up the stairs, you walk under 3 dear heads with huge horn racks. The bedroom has 4 dear heads, a plump stuffed wild turkey and a bear skin hung directly above the head of the bed. Not a setting for sweet dreams. It has been on the market since early Oct 2013, with six price reductions since listing. Outcome: 225+ Days on Market. 6 Price Reductions = $65k
As evidenced by the homes found during Online Staging Pro evaluations, home staging has not gone main stream and there needs to be a much higher level of awareness of how it directly impacts sales and profits. With the massive increase in Buyers using the internet, most home Sellers are not keeping up and many are missing the magic window of opportunity in the home selling cycle. In a recent interview with the Real Estate Staging Association, Barbara Corcoran the famous New York Real Estate Mogul and Sharkette from ABC's Shark Tank said “Everyone Shops online, 9 out of 10 people start their search online. Without home staging, people won't even come to see the house. It used to be an extra, now it's just an essential.” The top three real estate websites get millions of unique visitors to their sites every month: Zillow est. 36 million, Trulia 23 million and Yahoo!Homes est. 20 million (according to the May 2014 eBizMBA Ranking article).
To help a larger number of home Sellers, Online Staging Pro recently launched their new website http://OnlineStagingPro.com. They provide affordable access to Home Staging Services for the vast underserved mainstream Home Seller Market across the United States. They help Sellers successfully maneuver through the evolving real estate market and adapt to the advances in internet home marketing and mobile technology. The 7 Deadly Listing Sins full report is available on their website at no charge