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What to do if your home isn't selling - 10 tips to improve your selling karma

Home sellers
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Whether you're in a bone-dry market or a sizzling selling season, if you haven't received any offers on your home you're probably facing the question of whether to take it off the market. A house that goes too long without selling begins to appear "stale" and can actually damage your future chances of a sale.

How long is too long? It's not an exact science, but there are some helpful indicators. In a dry market, a sales period of six months to one year isn't unusual. Look at recent sales reports of similar homes nearby to determine a reasonable selling interval. In a hot seller's market, a house that hasn't sold within one month indicates a problem. In either case, there are several steps you can take before putting up the white flag.

From rethinking your colour scheme to holding open houses on weeknights, here are 10 tips for sparking interest in your home.

1. Look at your home through the eyes of a buyer

Is the lawn weedy or the garden bare? Is your home uncluttered and spotlessly scrubbed? Sparkling-clean houses sell faster than those that look too lived-in or show an abundance of the owner's personality.

2. Take a second look at your listing price.

Visit other open houses in your neighbourhood. Are similar homes priced lower? Selling prices may have dropped since your first comparative market analysis. In a hot market, if you haven't sold your home within one month, chances are good that you've overpriced it. If you do lower your asking price, consider a figure slightly below those of other comparable homes if you are interested in a speedy sale.

3. Do whatever it takes to be away from your home during showings and open houses.

The presence of sellers makes it difficult for prospective buyers to take their time or talk openly with their partner and agent. Leave some treats out to make potential buyers more comfortable: beverages, biscuits -- anything that won't lose freshness or be too messy.

4. Ask your listing agent to talk to buyer agents in his or her firm who have shown your home.

The feedback from their clients can guide you in making home repairs, toning down your décor, making landscaping improvements and the like.

5. Hold an open house on a weeknight.

Competition is lower on weeknights, and you'll attract the interest of buyers who can't make weekend appointments because of other commitments.

6. Take out some extra online ads.

Even if your agent is doing a good job with promotions ask them about other ways the property could be promoted online through social media or email marketing to a target audience.

7. Neutralise your colour scheme.

Most buyers prefer pale, neutral colours that make it easier to imagine a new home as their own. Houses with white exteriors are the highest sellers; for interiors, try whites, off-whites or pale greys.

8. Review your price expectations.

If you've had offers but considered them too "lowball," try readjusting your sights. Determine the lowest price you find acceptable, and consider anything more as icing on the cake. In a longstanding dry market you may even have to sell at a loss, so it's important to take every offer seriously. You don't want to alienate a potential buyer who has solid financing because you've set your sights unrealistically high.

9. Is your listing agent giving your house adequate attention?

If not, start by having a candid talk. If there's no change, discuss the problem with their manager. On the other hand, if you have a fabulous agent but the market is suffering, consider offering an increased commission or a bonus for your listing agent as an extra incentive. If you do sweeten the pot for your agent, amend your listing contract to reflect the change.

10. Refresh your marketing campaign to give it a kickstart.

If your property has been on the market for a long time and the marketing campaign has run out, it may appear outdated to buyers and buyer agents; speak to your listing agent about how you could refresh the marketing campaign.

If you've tried the tips above, you're confident that your asking price is competitive, you have an ace agent and you're still not getting any action, it's probably time to take your house off the market. Here are some ways to make the most of it:

Choose your selling season.

If you can afford to do so, relist during a more dependable selling season. Research the trends in your area: If you live near the beach, for example, summer may be the savviest time to sell. Speak to your listing agent about the best seasons to sell.

Rent out your home until the market bounces back.

If you must leave your home because of a job transfer or other extenuating circumstances, renting is an excellent option as you wait for the market to regain some heat. If you don't have the time or the talent it takes to be a good landlord, contact a reputable company that specialises in screening applicants and managing properties.

Home sellers
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