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What We Can Learn About Selling Unsellable Homes From New HGTV Program

HGTV sure knows how to tap into the zeitgeist. Already home to several of our national obsessions, their newly announced show, Unsellable Homes, sounds like a winner. 

“In HGTV’s Unsellable Houses, sisters Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis—who are among the top-selling real estate agents in the Pacific Northwest—help struggling homeowners sell their seemingly unsellable homes in record time,” said HGTV. “Lyndsay, an expert in home renovation, design and staging, and Leslie, an expert in budget and negotiations, are so confident they can sell any home that they’re willing to invest their own money to make the sale.”

HGTV is presenting eight new series in 2020, Unsellable Homes will be the first to premier during the first week of February. According to House Beautiful, the twin sisters “will be challenged to sell 10 homes in the Seattle area that have been deemed unsellable by marketplace standards. The sisters, confident in their ability to sell even the most unwanted of properties, will be investing their own money to make the necessary renovations. Their end goal each episode will be to sell the home at a higher price, allowing them to break even, and the family to profit.”

The homes Lamb and Davis will be showcasing on the program have been for sale for as long as 120 days—far beyond the 30 days it typically takes to sell a home in hot Seattle. In line with the launch of this intriguing new show, we’re presenting a few top tips for getting your own unsellable home sold.

Get smart about the listing price

Your home isn’t worth what you think it is or even what you’ve put into it. It’s worth what people will pay for it. And if they’re not paying for it, it’s overpriced.

Make sure you’re not the problem

“It’s tough to hear that you may be the reason your home isn’t selling, but it is the easiest problem to fix,” said Dave Ramsey. “Be honest and ask yourself if you’re doing anything that could potentially drive buyers away. Are you: At home during showings; Stretching the truth about your home’s features; Restricting the times that buyers can view your home?”

Stage it to sell

“According to Davis, one of the top reasons a home doesn’t sell quickly in a booming market like Seattle is because ‘[these homes] are not presented right when put out for buyers to see,” said House Beautiful. “This encompasses everything from the pictures included in the listing, to how the home is staged.”

Concentrate on curb appeal

Don’t underestimate the impact curb appeal can make. If you spend all your time and effort, not to mention money, on the inside and neglect things like an unkempt front yard and a ratty front door, potential buyers may not even get out of the car. For a few hundred dollars, you can layer in some fresh mulch, plant a few seasonal flowers, paint your door, and lay down a welcome mat, giving your home a whole new look.

Take professional pictures

For one reason or another, sellers sometimes insist on taking their own listing photos. This doesn’t typically pay off. Just how important are those photos? According to the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD), “Homes with high quality photography sell 32 percent faster; Homes with more photos sell faster, too. A home with one photo spends an average 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends 32 days on the market; For homes in the $200,000 to $1 million range, those that include high-quality photography in their listings sell for $3,000-$11,000 more.”

Tend to the smell

You might not be able to detect a smell in your home because you’re used to it. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. 

“Several agents cited bad odors as a common reason a home won’t sell,” said Business Insider. “Three agents said that odors from cats in particular are bad news. Residual scents from smoking can also pose a problem, said Jose Laya, who sells homes in Miami for between $800,000 and $2 million.”

Taking steps to remove cat litter boxes (or at least keep them really clean) and a good cleaning of the carpet and soft surfaces like drapes and couches are good places to start. Investing in some Febreze and air fresheners can help cover up any lingering smells. And, if all else fails, embrace the trick real estate agents have been using for years: Bake some cookies before a showing. That way you’re creating a sense memory for all the RIGHT reasons. 

Listen to your agent

Really, this is a repeat of everything above. If you’re working with an experienced, knowledgeable agent (And if you’re not, you should be!) and he or she tells you to lower your price, it’s because you need to lower your price. If he or she recommends you declutter your house, give it a good scrubbing, or air it out, it’s because you need to declutter your house, give it a good scrubbing, or air it out. Maybe all three.

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