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What to Do if Your Home Doesn't Sell

SEATTLE ( Zillow) -- Your home has been on the real estate market for months. You haven't had any offers, or the offers you got were absurdly low. Now what?

A lot depends on the property and the market. In general, though, your next steps should be to take the home off the market, give the listing a "rest," reconsider your asking price, possibly give it some cosmetic tweaks and then get back into the game. Once you do, you might even end up selling it for more than what you originally asked. I've seen it happen more than once.
Your home has been on the real estate market for months. You haven't had any offers, or the offers you got were absurdly low. Now what?

There are a lot of reasons why a home doesn't sell in a timely manner. Maybe it's priced too high or doesn't show well -- the furniture or paint is too dark, there's too much clutter, it lacks curb appeal. Whatever the reasons, here are three things you can try to make your home a hot commodity:

1. Get out of the market temporarily
Listings can grow "stale" after a while in the eyes of potential buyers. If your home hasn't sold within about 90 days, buyers begin to wonder why and, all too often, assume something is wrong. Or they just see it as less desirable than a new listing.

Remember that the pool of potential buyers evolves constantly. As soon as someone gets in contract and closes, a new buyer makes the first call to an agent to start looking. So take your property off the market for about three months. When you get back into the market, there will be an entirely new pool of buyers out there, and to them your property should be "fresh."

2. Reconsider your asking price
I know of one house in San Francisco that sat on the market for months. After a much-needed rest (about three months), the property was re-listed with a slightly lower list price. It ended up getting multiple offers and sold for higher than its original listing price. If you were being unrealistic about your asking price, don't make the mistake when you re-list. Price your property to sell. You don't want it to sit on the market for another three to six months.

3. Freshen up the look of your property
Maybe you resisted making some cosmetic changes initially because you didn't want to spend the money. Or maybe you weren't even really ready, psychologically, to sell. Either way, now is the time to take a fresh look at your property from the eyes of a potential buyer.

Making some easy, quick, not-too-expensive improvements, such as a fresh coat of paint, better staging, adding a few flowering shrubs to the front yard or de-cluttering the kitchen, can make a huge difference. A little financial investment now can pay back with a higher closing price later.

Solicit ideas from your real estate agent, friends, anyone whose advice you trust. Maybe it's time to get advice from another agent, someone who will bring a fresh eye. Whatever you do, be open to constructive suggestions about how your home could be made more desirable.

The goal here is to learn from your first experience, give your home a break and come with a fresh approach designed to appeal to a new pool of buyers. When it comes to putting your property back on the market, little things can truly mean a lot. Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and real estate expert based in San Francisco and New York. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog, has collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter.

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