The Only Two Reasons a Property Isn’t Selling

by Daniel Argent


As you can imagine, I’ve had my fair share of conversations over the years with thousands of vendors – whether they be clients, friends, associates or someone I’ve just met at a social gathering. I get peppered with all sorts of questions about how to successfully market a property in order to achieve the best possible result.

Among those discussions, I’ll occasionally come across a vendor who has been trying to sell a home but can’t achieve a satisfactory result. They’ll say things like, ‘My agent is no good’ or ‘The market isn’t right’. While I sympathise with their plight, I need to set the record straight.


The ONLY Two Reasons 

In truth, there are only two reasons why a home won’t sell – price or presentation.

That’s it. End of story.

I don’t care whether it’s on the main road or a mountain, whether it has a steep driveway or a school parking zone out front… whatever the excuse. Nothing matters apart from price or presentation.

The upside is these can be addressed, but many vendors make the critical mistake of moving on the wrong one first. It’s a fatal error that’s costing some sellers tens of thousands of dollars.

Here’s my solid gold solution to the problem of a sticky listing.


Why Good Looks Matter

The first thing to address is always presentation. Price is secondary in this instance.

When you don’t have the presentation right, you can’t effectively tackle price.

Here’s an example. Let’s imagine an agent walks into a property listing that needs a heap of work on its presentation – to be frank, it looks like shit.

Assume it’s taken straight to market ‘as-is’, and it doesn’t get any interest. The seller thinks, “It’s got to be the price” and immediately drops the asking amount. In fact, they might keep dropping the price until the listing becomes so affordable, buyers look past the detritus and sign on the dotted line.

Sure, they got a result, but at what cost?

My belief is that this was a missed opportunity to work on presentation first which would have increased the prospect of achieving a premium price.

If your property still isn’t selling after you’ve nailed presentation, then you know there’s only one reason your property isn’t selling – and that’s price. But don’t jump the gun and ignore good looks before money when it comes to real estate.


The Two Elements of Presentation

Once you decide to follow this path, how do you tackle presentation correctly?

Well, this is best addressed in two parts:

1 – The physical presentation of the property

2 – The presentation of the property in advertising


The Physical

For me, physical presentation starts the moment I pull up to a home.

How does it look from the street? Is the fence in good order? Is the home straight? Is it painted? Does it need an exterior wash?  Is there mould on the external walls? What does the lawn look like? What do the trees look like – are they overgrown? How are the stairs?

If these, and other outside basics are dodgy, I’ll have a negative opinion before I even walk through the door.

As I walk in, I’m immediately looking at whether there’s a clutter of furniture.

I’m a huge advocate of having a listing furnished – it makes a home look bigger and more functional – but is it excessive? Eighty per cent of homes have too much furniture collected over a family’s lifetime within its walls. That’s fine for your day-to-day existence, but not great when you’re looking to sell. Too much stuff closes up the room.

Also – remove family pictures and other personalising elements. They’re nice for you, but a potential buyer wants to see their new home, not your old home. Let them imagine the potential of becoming the owner, not feel like they’re just visitors in someone else’s space.

Address the colour palette too. Shoot for neutral tones and lose the 1990s ‘suede effect’ feature wall.

While you’re at it – declutter kitchen and bathroom. Put away the appliances and hide the microwave oven. Don’t cover your stunning stone benchtops with ‘things’.

There are other obvious basics to tackle, but my one piece of overall guidance is this – you need the home to look as much as possible like it’s about to be photographed for Living magazine.

I get it – homes are lived in. They function as a residence and that means mess, but when you’re on the market, do your utmost to keep as close to showroom condition as is practically possible.


The Advertising

Secondly – you need to up the presentation in your marketing material.

Of course, you must address the physical presentation first. You can’t turn a dump into a palace simple by applying a filter – it simply doesn’t work. Make sure you get professional photos taken at the right time of day too. Contemporary homes always look great at dusk because of their lighting, while Queenslander can look as spectacular during the daytime as they do at sunset.

Next – don’t forget to include a floorplan in your listing. Buyers short-list their property choices via online advertising. Having a floorplan, and even a site plan, allows them to understand if the home will suit their needs before they come over for a look.

A comprehensive written description is essential too. A few bullet points just won’t do. You need plenty of information so buyers can learn all there is to know about your property.

Finally – beautiful and informative signboards help sell homes. There’s nothing quite like signboards for a stunning piece of physical promotion. Ensure the sign you have out front shows photos of what people can’t see from the street. Lounge rooms, pools, back decks – let it tell the inside story.


When to Move on Price

Nailing presentation gives your home every chance of nailing a premium price.

If you follow my presentation steps and the market still isn’t interested, then it’s definitely time to reconsider your asking figure.

In my experience, almost all premium prices are achieved in the first 21 days of a property’s listing. If no one is responding in that timeframe, and you’ve taken care of presentation, then it’s only ever a price issue.

There are so many times where I’ve been the second agent on a listing where the first agent has done nothing on presentation. I love these listings, because by following my strategy of presentation first, I’ve often been able to turn around a home and achieve a premium of $30,000 to $50,000 more than the best offers they’d received in the previous campaign.

Selling a home should be laser-focused on achieving the best possible result for the vendor within a reasonable timeframe. When homes don’t sell, the answer is simple. Once the owner understands this, a strategic approach coupled with sincere effort will bring an outstanding result.