Some properties are harder to sell than others.   We’ve all seen them; they come and go off the market, taking months and often years to sell.  Though recently Vancouver’s market has improved, the challenging homes remain difficult to sell and when buyers are fewer these homes take an extraordinary amount of patience and persistence from both the seller and the realtor.

In this article I’d like to go over some of the key issues for the hard to sell home, but first, and though this will cause some dissension in the ranks; the number one, bar none reason a home does not sell, is price.  Price is both the problem and the solution.  In all the situations below price is the immediate and quick answer.  The other option is holding out for that right buyer - just know holding out for the right buyer can literally take years.  Even then, you will most likely have to give in on price – the decision is always in the hands of the seller.  So here they are:

  1. Price! - as you go through the list, there is not one of these items that price cannot fix, but it can also be the one and only problem – even without these issues below.  Price the home too high for the market and it won’t sell.
  2. Poor location – poor location can mean many things:
    1. Bad neighborhood – high crime.
    2. Undesirable neighborhood  this includes :  too far from conveniences (shops, schools, restaurants) , no prestige, poor schools, bad neighbors, house next door looks like a crack house, noisy area –  all being reason to make a neighborhood undesirable to the market.
    3. On a busy road – a major artery or, god forbid - a highway
    4. No sunlight – in Vancouver (the land of the damp and dark), most people like to have their main rooms and their outdoor area face the sun.  Huge trees are a deterrent here as is a north facing property.
    5. Nasty outlook – a view of the alley, gas station, or a commercial area is not high on anyone’s list.
  3. Difficult floor plan/size – A floor plan can be difficult to change.  Reverse plans (bedrooms below the main) are not popular, less than 3 bedrooms up can be a tough sell as the average family has more than one child and want them on the same floor as themselves (unless of course they are teenagers, then an out building is preferable), not enough bedrooms and bathrooms, too small, or too big a house, any odd configuration or bizarre angled shape (anything out of  the ordinary appeals to a smaller market)
  4. Lack of privacy – most people don’t want to be viewed upon by others and so having another house or public area directly in view can be a turn off.
  5. Lack of yard, too much yard and no outdoor space, a pool, no room for a pool – most people have a specific requirement for what they want in this area.
  6. Creeks and Rivers – with the recent flooding in Alberta, this can be a real scare for buyers and insurance companies too!  Developers and investors generally stay away from these properties because of the additional regulations surrounding the use of land protected by fisheries.  It’s limiting and a pain to work through all the red tape. Ultimately it affects the overall value.
  7. Steep Driveway – scares the heck out of folks! And so it should as most of them can’t drive.
  8. An unkempt home – here lies a host of potential no no’s.   Smelly pet smell, dirty dishes, dirty floors, dirty bathrooms, laundry piled up, dirty windows, a garden left to the weeds, debris left around the property – you’d be surprised at what we see!!!! Once, no lie, a pair of dirty underwear on the dirty bathroom floor – OMG it was an agents open house – they knew we were coming!
  9. A home in disrepair – again, this is a big area.  Leaky roofs and/or skylights, doors and windows not closing property, broken appliances, damaged floors and carpets, rotting decks and stairs, rusty metal fixtures, dripping taps, cracks and holes in anything,  worn & peeling paint, damage from pets.  It all says the home has not been cared for and spells more work for the buyer.
  10. Lack of flexibility in showings – It’s important to make the home available and be as flexible as possible with showings.  Buyers usually are available at the most inconvenient times (after work and weekends).  Unfortunately for all, this is when most showings happen, so you have to be willing to leave the house to allow for this.  A hot buyer ready to buy, will buy.  If your house wasn’t available it’s highly possible they will not come back.  Most sellers don’t want to believe this, but it’s very old and wise “snooze and you lose” rule.  Having open houses helps greatly to bring exposure to the home.   Those who don’t want any opens miss out. Now if no one's coming to your opens, then it’s time to look at price again ;)
  11. Dated Kitchens and Baths – Today’s buyers are pretty spoiled and will find a 7 year old kitchen is “dated” in their mind.  They just can’t live with yesterday’s granite and those out of style cabinets.  They want the latest and greatest in style and trendy look to keep up with those darn friends who always have more.  Some buyers prefer to do these renovations and not “pay” for someone else’s taste, but more often, the buyer simply doesn’t want to do a thing and does not know how to renovate – therefore it’s too overwhelming a project for them to consider.

I’m sure you can think back to your own experiences in looking at homes and come up with a few others and I’d love to hear them.  I’m sure I’ve experienced it, but I’d love to hear some I haven’t.  As for selling these homes, for some it just comes down price. 

Even an illegal meth lab in West Vancouver, which blew up, sold for $699,000 while assessed at $1,026,000 – Everyone was afraid of it, but it did sell! And yes, it was a deal too.