3 Hacks to Help a Home Sell in a Slow(er) Real Estate Market

real estate hacks sell a home

The Portland real estate market slowed down significantly in late 2022 and is still much slower than normal as we enter 2023. There will be a spring bump, as that is always the best time to sell a home in our metro area, but we expect prices to drop again in 2023 by July or August (most likely July). See our full forecast for the local 2023 real estate market here.

The 4 Main Reasons a Home Sells (or Not)

The are three foundational elements to a home sale. The market. The house. The price. The marketing. This is important to contemplate when a home is not selling. Is it just the market, and you need to wait for the market to change? Is there something wrong with the house, or something that can be improved with it? Perhaps the house Is the price too high? Or perhaps the house isn’t being marketing property. Are the pictures up to par, is there a 3D tour, is the home listed in multiple MLS systems?

I’ve been selling homes in the greater Portland metro for 20 years now. Whenever I see someone’s home that is not selling I can point to at least one of the four reasons (sometimes it is a combination). Sellers have a tendency to overprice their homes, but it is the real estate agent’s job to help them understand whether or not the price fits the current market, and also to know whether the real estate market is actively improving (so it is okay to wait) or actively dropping (so they better act fast if they want to sell in that season). Also, sometimes homes simply need some paint, cleaning, minor adjustments to make them initially more attractive, or at least more attractive to a greater pool of potential buyers. Finally, I’ve found many discount the power of real estate marketing. Most people (homeowners and Realtors alike) understand the importance of great professional photography, but often it ends there. There is abundant research available (see links in previous paragraph) that show 3D tours cause homes to sell faster and for more, as well as listing in multiple MLS systems, and other marketing tools we use every time my team sells a home.

For a deeper dive into price, home condition, and home marketing, check out our in-depth report here.

For a deep dive into the research on what marketing causes a home to sell, check out this report.

The 3 Hacks – When You Need Them

Okay, so let’s say everything has been done already to the house that makes sense (meaning the improvements done give an actual return on investment, and anything further really wouldn’t). Also, let’s say the market is slow and not improving anytime soon and the seller needs to sell. Also let’s say the seller really needs the price they’re asking for and is desperate to obtain it. Finally, let’s say the marketing of the house is as good as it can be and the Realtor has done everything statically viable that sells a house. All four main reasons a home sells or not has already been addressed. Is there anything else you can do? Let’s call them hacks, because honestly, a Realtor and homeowner should focus on the main four reasons above first before trusting in a hack (not that these things can’t be done in combination).

  1. Take the home off the market. What? Isn’t that the oppositive of trying to sell something? Isn’t the public market a homeowners best friend (it is by the way, FSBO homes sold for 25% less last year, and all those instant cash offers online stole a bunch of equity). While those things are true, it is an effective hack to take a home off the market for a short time and then put it back up a few days later. It will reset the clock (new on the market) on many home search websites (not all of them). This also sometimes (not that often) fools Realtors who tell their clients to act fast on this “new” listing. And no, this is not deceptive, it is a hack. All of the history stays forever in the MLS, the Realtor simply didn’t bother to look at it. (A few important things to note if you choose to try this strategy. First, don’t do this often, it will confuse buyers and Realtors if you do. This only works if it is done infrequently. Two, unfortunately other Realtors and Realty companies may instantly spam you when your home drops off the market. I think this is awful, my team never engages in this practice. I think it should be banned and I hate it. But even if your Realtor never shared your contact info with anyone, these other Realtors and companies have their ways to find your contact info and constantly spam you once your home is taken off the market (to list with them). I recommend treating them like you would any other spammer.)
  2. If you take it down and put it back up with a new first photo, you will “trick” (I don’t think this is a mean trick, it is a hack) the homebuyer to consider the property again as they scan through hundreds of listings online. Maybe the first time that first photo simply didn’t speak to them. Perhaps at that time your home didn’t fit their criteria but now it does. Perhaps that new first photo is attractive to them and for the very first time they will look at the rest of the photos and, lo and behold, it is the fantastic kitchen and backyard they’ve always wanted to own.
  3. Adjust the price (a tiny bit). Okay, I said above the homeowner needs the price, but I’m not talking about a price of market significance, I’m talking about a tiny adjustment. When does a tiny adjustment have an oversized impact? I can name three different scenarios from experience. First, let’s say the home is listed at 555,000. Seems like a fine number right? No. It is a terrible, terrible price to list a home. Why? Homebuyers search primarily online in 50k and 100k marks (Realtors do this too). Nearly all sales occur because of online homebuyer or Realtor searches. So in the case above, homebuyers and Realtors are finding this home most often when they are looking up homes between 550k and 600k. How do you think that home will appear in comparison with all those homes listed at 600k? Not well. If the price was 549,000 instead for the home, how do you think it would look in contrast to all those homes listed for 500k? Pretty good! The same is true for homes listed close to 100k mark, say listed for 510K instead of 499K, etc. Secondly, many websites will push homes up to the top with a price change. Thirdly, whenever my team reduces the price of a listing we automatically contact all the previous Realtors who showed that home to inform them of the new price as a courtesy. This gives us a positive reason for repeat engagement with those busy Realtors, instead of simply calling and asking them, again and again, if their buyer is still considering our listing.

There’s a Lot More to Say

If you’re considering selling a home in the next twelve months or less, we would love to talk with you today. We can forecast out the market for your exact area and help you make any adjustments to the home prior to going live on the public real estate market. We love what we do and would be honored to stop by your home and share what we’ve learned along the way. See our top-ranked home selling program here. Chat with the bot on this site or simply give us a call at 503-714-1111. We’d love to connect today!

January 13, 2023

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.5% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.