What to Do If Your House Hasn’t Sold by Labor Day


NEW YORK (MainStreet) —  House-hunting season may be approaching its official Labor Day end, but sellers shouldn’t be so quick to pull their home off the market, say housing experts.

According to Ken Shuman, spokesman for online real estate search engine Trulia.com, you still have about a month and half where chances are good that you will find a buyer.

“In a traditional market, if a home hasn’t sold by August, we tell people to take it off the market,” Shuman says. “However, for this selling season, we are recommending [homeowners] keep the property on the market from September to mid-October.” 

Shuman says it's because this year Trulia is seeing a low inventory of competitive properties on the market. 

“People are only selling their homes if they really have to,” he says, adding that buyers have also become much pickier since the housing crisis turned it into a buyer’s market.  ”There’s not a good selection of homes.”

“There will be a new crop of buyers out there now,” says JoAnn Roberts, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, adding that this could include anyone who couldn’t find the right home during the height of house-hunting season and took a break from looking to go on vacation in August. 

“They’ll be looking to close before Thanksgiving,” Talenfeld says, acknowledging that sellers will have to have a sense of urgency if they are going to take advantage of a slightly longer season.

Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, a firm that monitors the housing market, agrees that people don’t necessarily have to pull their homes off the market by Labor Day, but does advise homeowners looking to keep their houses up for sale to do some research before making a final decision.

“It will depend on where you live,” he says, explaining that some locations do turn into a virtual dead zone once the new school year starts. “You need to look at the rates of sales activity in your particular market.”

You’ll also need to factor in the weather. For instance, homeowners in Florida – where the temperature remains warm throughout the fall, will stand a better chance of finding a buyer than those living in Colorado, where the winters are much harsher. 

Sharga also says that rural and suburban areas populated by families sending their kids off to school are more likely to have low sales activity than urban settings populated by single individuals or couples without children. Similarly, large properties are less likely to sell than small ones.

Consumers will also need to take their personal feelings into account. Shuman explains that sellers are often eager to unofficially take their homes off the market once the seasons change since they, too, want to enjoy the holidays with their families and not be beholden to maintaining the house to show it to sellers.

If you want to keep your home on the market during a slower sales season, it may mean a price change is in order, something that not all homeowners are amenable to.

If you can’t lower the price but are in a rush to relocate, Katie Curnutte, spokeswoman for Zillow.com, says that homeowners can considering renting out their properties instead.

“It can be a good way to hold on to your house and move on to your next one,” she says.  You can find more information about it in MainStreet's look at how to turn into an accidental landlord when your house won’t sell.

If you're planning to continue the search for a buyer, MainStreet has some tips for how you can increase your chances of selling the property.

Reconsider your price.

If your home has been on the market for four to eight week, Roberts suggests sitting down with a real estate agent to review your asking price.

“You need to look at what other properties sold over the summer in your area and what they sold for,” she says. If your asking price is much higher, you could lower it to sell quickly. 

“You can’t think your home is worth more just because you like it,” Curnutte agrees.

Review your marketing strategy.

Since you’re dealing with a small window of time in which buyers will still be actively looking, Shuman says you’ll need to also review your advertising or marketing strategy.

“Talk to your real estate agent and find out where their leads have been coming from,” he says. ”Find out what outlets you’re not advertising in and push to advertise there.”

“You’re going to have to be aggressive,” Roberts agrees. She also suggests changing up the photos or language on your online listings.

Give your home a face-lift.

“Curb appeal is immensely important,” Roberts says. “Buyers watch HGTV and they go out and look for homes that look the ones on their TV shows.” 

As such, homeowners should spend some time improving their house’s exterior. For instance, a fresh coat of paint on the front, new shutters or a glossy finish on the doors.

Roberts suggests changing your landscaping to reflect the fall foliage.

“Replace the flowers with fall plants,” she says.

What other tactics can homeowners use to increase the likelihood their house will finally sell? MainStreet put together an owner’s guide to selling and also provides additional staging tips in this roundup!

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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