Christopher and Stephanie Somers, from Philadelphia, gave four good reasons why homes don't sell: price, marketing, difficulty in showing, and stigmas. I am offering four more: Drive-bys can't see the home, the home is in a very bad setting, there is no curb appeal, and the sellers don't really want to sell.
PROBLEM: Typical buyers find possible homes on the internet. Then, if they are not familiar with the neighborhood, they will drive by. If the home is hidden from view, they will do just that: drive by!
SOLUTION: If it is just overgrowth of shrubs and trees, trim them back. I know, as a former seller, I did not want to trim back my beautiful tree. But now that I am a stager, I know better. Do you know what I know? I know that the buyer will not know what it looked like before, and will not be upset by it.
Example 1: When helping a couple stage their home, I noted the beautiful white fence outside their screened porch, giving them privacy from next door. They said they hated it, that it cut off their view of the neighbor's back yard, thus cutting their yard off visually. They knew what was, I knew what is. And it was good. Buyers would like it.
Example 2: On Stagedhomes.com, there are sample pictures. In one of them, the before picture shows a mass of trees and undergrowth from the street. No house. You'd never know there was a house in there! The after picture shows the underbrush cut away, and a beautiful home with a gorgeous fountain in front. Which one would drive-bys want to pursue?
Example 3: A home I staged is in a beautiful setting. It is on a lake, is surrounded by trees, and is very peaceful. Problem? You can't see it from the street because it is set back. I suggested they put a sign under the Realtor's sign, inviting people to drive up the driveway for a glimpse of heaven. I know I would feel funny doing that as a drive-by, but if there were an invitation to drive back, I would do it.
PROBLEM: The home has neighbors who don't keep up their property, whose backyard is a mess, etc.
SOLUTION: A good relationship with neighbors is key.
Example: I took some homemade cookies to a condo neighbor, with a note thanking them in advance for anything they could do to help keep the hallways clear of their kid's stuff. He came over while I was staging, we talked, and the relations are good. He removed the rug he was drying in the hall, and mopped the kids mess in the main hallway.
Example: You don't know why the neighbors have a mess. Perhaps they are elderly, and can't keep up with the house. Meet them. If this is the case, offer to clean up their leaves/trash/junk. Offer to mow. Perhaps they are willing to hire somebody but just don't know who. Find somebody.
Example: If, after talking with the neighbors, you realize they are not going to cooperate, then blocking off the offensive view with fencing, bushes, outdoor "room dividers, yard art, or whatever will help block the view or distract from it. Put something lovely in front of the blocker, like a planting of colorful flowers.
Example: If the whole neighborhood is a mess, perhaps enough neighbors would respond to a clean-up/fix-up Saturday. Place signs around beforehand so they can plan to save the day, provide a dumpster and rakes, brooms, and a wheelbarrow, and see what shows up--sometimes that's all that they need: a place to easily get rid of their stuff. And you'll feel good about helping a neighborhood!
No curb appeal
PROBLEM: When potential buyers drive by, there is nothing that stands out about the house. It is just "there."
SOLUTION: Create interest in the view from the street.
Example: In season, flowers do wonders. Plant them so they lead up to the front door, either following the sidewalk, or in a bunch here, and a bunch there, zigzagging every 5 feet or so, on either side. Plant flowers on either side of the front porch or put potted plants on either side of the door, if they fit. If it is off-season, not to worry. You can "plant" evergreen boughs in the pots and add a touch of red berries (discount home/floral store). Little tiny Christmas trees lining the walkway work in the winter also.
Example: Wash the windows. Have attractive window coverings--half curtains are cute for many homes, and still provide privacy. Full drapes pulled back to the side in a tassel/raffia/whatever looks inviting also. At any rate, have the coverings OPEN (except the half curtains), so the house doesn't look forboding. Then leave lights on inside in the front rooms. If you are gone all day, leave them on, in case the day turns dark and dreary. Nothing looks cozier than lights shining from inside when it's dark outside.
The sellers don't really want to sell
PROBLEM: Even though the home is on the market, the owners really don't want to move.
SOLUTION: Do not underestimate the power of intention! If the owner does not want to sell, the home will not sell. Signs they don't want to sell: They don't do the suggested things they need to do to get the property ready, they talk about how they don't want to move, they hang around during showings and say things that make the home seem undesirable. You need to put on your psychologist's hat and help them move on. Ask them why they don't want to move. Try to find out what their interests are and maybe do some research to find outlets in the new home area.
Example: An elderly woman and her somewhat mentally disabled adult son were going to move nearer to the daughter/sister in a new town. The son did not want to move. The sister found out some places where he could make pottery like he liked to do, and a coffee shop to hang out in, and he was then psychologically ready to make the move.
Example: Seniors don't want to leave their home that they raised their family in. If possible, work with the children. See if they will take and keep some of the furniture/momentos so the parents can see them from time to time. Choose their favorite furnishings to move with them, be it a favorite chair or a lovely dresser. Again, find outlets for their interests in the new area.
Example: Young children often don't want to leave their friends, school, activities. Taking them along to the new school to meet the principal and some teachers, taking them to a basketball game if they play basketball, introducing them to new neighbors if the new home has already been bought, etc., helps them to feel more comfortable. The more say they have in the move, like which toys to leave out and not pack away for staging, the better. Let them feel as though they have some control. For us, it meant not considering buying in an area because our daughter didn't like it. We survived!
Yes, all these solutions to the problems take a little bit of work on your part. But, if it means a quicker sale or even a sale at all, it is worth it financially for you. You'll spend less time and money marketing it, and they surely will tell others about how you've bent over backwards to help them make the sale a reality--and that means more referrals!