Why Your House Isn't Selling | Top 9 Houston Home Selling Mistakes

We analyzed 815,494 listings and identified 9 costly Houston home selling mistakes.

Why Won't My House Sell? Top 9 Houston Home Selling Mistakes To Avoid

Summary

Houston Home Seller Resources

Nearly 50% of Houston MLS listings have a mistake and over 75% of listings aren’t optimized for the Internet. 9 out of 10 buyers start their home search on the Internet.

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Table of Contents

  1. Selling Tips: Your Houston Home For The Most Money
  2. What The Numbers Say About Houston Realtors
  3. Listing Mistakes: Houston Listings & Errors
  4. Mistake #1:Taking Low Quality Photos
  5. Mistake #2: Having Less Than 15 Photos
  6. Mistake #3: Using a Wrong (Or Bad) First Photo
  7. Mistake #4: Not Having Quality Keywords In Your Description
  8. Mistake #5: Not Adding Captions In Every Photo
  9. Mistake #6: Ignoring Market Signals & Feedback
  10. Mistake #7: Not Having A (Correctly Completed) Seller’s Disclosure
  11. Mistake #8: Listing Errors
  12. Mistake #9: Overpricing At The Early Stages Of Selling
  13. Methodology & Research
  14. The Best Houston Realtor to Sell Your Home

Selling Tips: Your Houston Home For The Most Money

Selling Tips: Your Houston Home For The Most Money

"The Houston Properties Team sold my house over list price within 2 days. Their marketing works. They're the best listing platform in Houston. Call them. You won't be sorry!" - Josh (Google Review)

As the #1 boutique real estate team in Houston with over $1 billion in residential property sales, we've spent 15 years building our proprietary Best Houston Listing Platform.

We’ve mastered the art of getting you more value for your property in the least amount of time.

When it comes to selling your Houston home fast and for the most value, we base our action plans on two parts. In this article, we'll be focusing on the first part.

This is the same philosophy that made Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger two of the best investors in history: We avoid making mistakes.

We avoid these mistakes in every one of our listings. We've done the research so you'll know what to expect when selling your home and how to get your house ready to sell.

We've built our marketing platform to turn these mistakes into what can best highlight the features home buyers want most.


What The Numbers Say About Houston Realtors

What The Numbers Say About Houston Realtors

If you find yourself thinking, "Why isn't my house selling?", your listing could have one or more of these costly mistakes. Contact the Houston Properties Team for more home selling tips.

We completed a study of 815,494 Houston real estate listings. Of these, only 517,751 homes were sold.

297,743 (35%) homes didn't sell — costing their owners valuable time, money, and missed opportunities.

In addition, we analyzed the 50,000 homes that sold for the lowest price per square foot for their respective property type, area, and age.

Our analysis identified nine common and crucial mistakes in the 43% of listings. Here are a few concerning statistics on why so many listings have mistakes:

With these numbers, it’s not a surprise that nearly 50% of listings have a mistake and over 75% of listings aren’t optimized for the Internet (which is where 95%+of buyers start their home search).


Listing Mistakes: Houston Listings & Errors

Listing Mistakes: Houston Listings & Errors

Listings with mistakes sold for 2.3% less on average and sat on the market for 47% longer than homes without mistakes. Interestingly, 87% of mistakes were committed by agents who did less than $4 million per year in production value. If you find yourself asking "Why won't my house sell?" and want more tips on how to sell your home fast, contact Paige Martin, the #1 Keller Williams Realtor in Houston.

Benefit of working with Best Houston Listing Agents

When performing a task in your career (or even when you're doing something as simple as shooting a basketball), how many times do you have to practice before you become proficient?

50? 100? 500?

The average Houston listing agent has sold less than 5 homes in their entire life.

How do you become great at something that you've never practiced?

Here are a few statistics to understand the complexity associated with correctly selling your home fast and for the most money:

The Houston Properties Team has sold over $1 billion of Houston residential real estate and regularly sells over 300 homes per year.

Our listing checklist has 9 phases and 457 rows (developed over the last 15 years).


Mistake #1:Taking Low Quality Photos

Mistake #1:Taking Low Quality Photos

Taking quality photos is very difficult as it requires a lot of preparation (home preparation, touch up, staging), scheduling the photoshoot on the right day and time (to take advantage of the best natural light and weather), taking the photos, and post-processing/editing/virtual staging. However, it's one of the most important marketing elements to get right in order to sell your home for the most money in the shortest time. Most agents don't have the relationships with the top photographers in the city to make your listing a priority.

How important are photos in selling a house in Houston? Let's look at the numbers:

Originally we featured BEFORE and AFTER photos (and highlighted how much faster the "after" photos helped sell the home) in this section. Since these are real images from real listings, we didn't want to "poke anyone in the eye."

Below, please find sample "AFTER" images.

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best houston listing agent

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best houston listing agent

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Mistake #2: Having Less Than 15 Photos

Mistake #2: Having Less Than 15 Photos

Homes that only had about 8 photos in their listings stayed on the market for an average of 134 days. Contact us if you want more help on how to avoid mistakes when selling your home.

One of the more costly mistakes when selling your Houston home is not maximizing the number of photos for a listing.

We analyzed 16,083 Houston homes for sale. Homes that had about 8 photos in their listings stayed on the market for an average of 134 days.

On the other hand, homes with 15+ photos in their listings stayed on the market for only an average of 96 days. That's more than a month's difference in terms of turnaround time!

Other key findings include:

While we don't have a long-term research study to back up the facts, our current experience tells us that listings should have more or less 40 photos.

Benefit of working with Best Houston Listing Agents

With an agent who has more than $4M in sales per year and a team of professional photographers, you're looking at the winning combination for staging your home for sale.

If the specific property doesn't have 50 interior photos that represent the house in the best light, the other slots can be used to:

If you want to take your home staging up a notch, make sure to hire the best Houston listing Realtor who insists on including neighborhood or "lifestyle" shots that showcase the amenities of your neighborhood.

A few samples of our Area and Lifestyle photos:

downtown houston

market square

downtown biking

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best houston listing agent

best houston listing agent

best houston listing agent

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best houston listing agent


Mistake #3: Using a Wrong (Or Bad) First Photo

Mistake #3: Using a Wrong (Or Bad) First Photo

The latest Google Advertising Study (which analyzed over 1 billion real estate images), showed that people were 25% more likely to click on an exterior photo of a home than an interior photo.

95% of buyers start their search online and view more than 85 listings before deciding on a home.

The primary goal of the first image is to draw in potential buyers. A good opening photo encourages the viewer to click on your listing and read more about the property.

The latest Google Advertising Study (which analyzed over 1 billion real estate images) showed that people were 25% more likely to click on an exterior photo of a home than an interior photo.

Based on our analysis, 67% of Houston home listings featured the exteriors of their homes in their first photos. 33% displayed the homes' interiors as the first photos.

Our photography team is skilled at capturing photos that:

Our team also tracks the click-through rates based on the first photo. This lets us adjust our photo strategy according to feedback from your potential buyers. We give them an updated listing — with an even more awesome first photo, and you get more traffic for your property.

We also take advantage of the latest technology, like drone shots and virtual stagings, to showcase the best of your home.

best houston listing agent

best houston listing agent

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best houston listing agent


Mistake #4: Not Having Quality Keywords In Your Description

Mistake #4: Not Having Quality Keywords In Your Description

Listings with no descriptions sold 65% SLOWER than all homes on the market. In addition, they sold for an average of 2.7% less compared to listings that had complete descriptions with accurate keywords. If you want more resources on what to do when selling your home, contact the Houston Properties team for a more in-depth Houston home selling guide.

Not taking advantage of good keywords is one of the biggest mistakes to avoid when selling your Houston home. Since 95% of home buyers use the Internet for their primary searches, you need to make sure your property listing is visible. To do that, you want to be on the top results of Google and other search engines. Listings with better keywords will appear more often in searches.

Listings with no mistakes in the form will have a better chance of appearing in all filters. For example, if a property is a townhome but is incorrectly listed as SFH, townhome buyers won't be able to find the listing because it has the wrong category.

The quality of the keywords you include in your listing is also more relevant now. This is because HAR rolled out a "search bar" that helps buyers filter homes according to their desired features or locations.

Buyers and agents can now search for specific keywords such as "jacuzzi tub", "fenced courtyard" or "Heights patio home" to narrow down their options. Including relevant and popular keywords in your listing increases the chances of your property appearing when buyers search online.

In our analysis of 1,000 homes for sale, we observed that 11.2% of listings on HAR did not utilize the executive summary section. This serves as the primary description field of your home and can accommodate text consisting of up to 1,000 characters.

sell your Houston home

Based on our analysis, we came up with these tips to help you maximize the quality of your listing's keywords:

1. Highlight your best home features.

Once you've identified the best features of your home, rank them according to what you think is the most important for your buyers and include them in your primary description.

2. Find the king among your keywords.

For example, instead of using "Beautiful Mason's Home in Houston" as your title, you could go with "Flood-free and Spacious Mason's Home in East Downtown" instead.

3. Proofread your descriptions.

Lack of grammar know-how shows that you didn't put enough effort and attention into your listing. This might affect what buyers think about the state of your home as well. Proofreading is an easy step you can take to improve the quality of your keywords and listing descriptions.

Benefit of working with Best Houston Listing Agents


Mistake #5: Not Adding Captions In Every Photo

Mistake #5: Not Adding Captions In Every Photo

Listings with complete photo descriptions sold 6% faster and for 0.8% more compared to listings without photo descriptions.

Here's another simple technique you can use to increase your chances of making a sale fast: write captions for each of your listing photos.

Our team found that listings with complete photo descriptions sold 6% faster and for 0.8% more compared to listings without photo descriptions.

Again, the experience and professionalism of realtors played a big part in whether or not captions were added to listing photos. Our analysis showed that a startling 74% of listings without photo descriptions were posted by agents who had less than $3.7M in annual production.

Here are some examples of good and bad photo descriptions:

BAD GOOD
"quite bed room facing the back yard" "Centered on a 1.6+ acre lot, this 1953 home was custom designed and backs to the River Oaks Country Club golf course. Gracious entry foyer and suspended staircase flow to formal and elegant informal rooms. Open areas with views to several custom-designed gardens."
"THIS IS A GREAT DEAL. BIG DEAL. GREAT DEAL TO BUY NOW!" "The SUNROOM (13′ x 18′): The Sunroom has new Pella floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the front yard and the enclosed garden courtyard, brick walls, ornamental acanthus leaf crown molding, recessed lighting, ceiling fan, and hardwood floors."
"Welcome home! This is a slid home with good bones" "This covered outdoor Living Space features a wood-burning, gas assist fireplace, full Summer Kitchen, Mosquito Misting System, and privacy galore. The home is also covered by a full house back-up generator."
"Green! makes you smile." "This custom-built traditional home is sited across Buffalo Bayou from the River Oaks Country Club golf course, behind security gates in a small and prestigious private subdivision in one of the most secluded locations inside The Loop."

Mistake #6: Ignoring Market Signals & Feedback

Mistake #6: Ignoring Market Signals & Feedback

You need reliable and accurate data to judge which feedback you should listen to or disregard. The Houston Properties team excels in tracking several data points about your property so that you can act with confidence. Contact us if you want more help on how to sell your house fast for top dollar.

Buyers' feedback is an important source of what you're doing right and what you could do better.

In contrast, no feedback is a warning sign that your property isn't generating interest. At this point, you should re-evaluate your home and consider making staging modifications or offering a more attractive price.

You need reliable and accurate data to judge which feedback you should listen to or disregard. The Houston Properties team excels in tracking several data points about your property so that you can act with confidence.

We make sure to keep an eye out for these 5 crucial data points:

  1. The total number of showings
  2. Which homes went under contract (so we can call the buyer's agent)
  3. Updates from all 10 of our preferred marketing channels
  4. The details of everything we did in a week to sell the house
  5. The number of marketing views needed to result in showings and closing offers

For instance, we know that the Heights' popularity as a neighborhood means stiff competition from other listings. Our previous sales show that it takes 5,000 marketing views to gain 10 showings, which should later result in 1 solid offer.

Every neighborhood operates at different stakes. We track all of our data and make sure you know them as well so that we can adjust your listing appropriately and prove to buyers why your home is the best choice.


Mistake #7: Not Having A (Correctly Completed) Seller’s Disclosure

Mistake #7: Not Having A (Correctly Completed) Seller’s Disclosure

You can use the Seller's Disclosure to support accurate pricing and fair contract terms, making the selling process smoother for everyone involved. Contact us, the Houston Properties Team, for even more home selling tips.

Texas State law requires sellers to provide their buyers with a completed Seller's Disclosure.

Sec. 5.008 states that sellers of "residential real property comprising not more than one dwelling unit" should complete their Seller's Disclosure.

On the other hand, duplexes, multiplexes, foreclosures, and the transfer of a property from one co-owner to another do not require so.

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) composed the basic seller's disclosure, but many real estate agencies have their own compliant versions.

You can use this document to support accurate pricing and fair contract terms, making the selling process smoother for everyone involved. It works as a comprehensive overview of a property that buyers want.

Buyers can check the seller's disclosure to learn as much as they can about the intricacies of the property, its condition, as well as the state of the neighborhood it’s in, and its immediate surroundings.

The document also serves as a tool for transparency and risk reduction. The buyer and seller can settle any potential misunderstanding about the property if it was identified in the Seller's Disclosure.

Include these 7 home features for a complete Seller's Disclosure to meet legal requirements and buyer demands:

  1. All seller-initiated improvements, renovations, or upgrades done by sellers
  2. Renovation permits that detail the changes made over the original property
  3. All legal documents that directly or indirectly affect the property
  4. The existence of pests or termites, flooding history, and calamity-induced damages
  5. Problems with the neighborhood and the Homeowners Association (HOA), plus any violations of local government laws
  6. All the major appliances and systems in the property along with any existing defects or malfunctions
  7. Documented communication about a substantial defect or item that could negatively impact the value of the property

We have proven experience in helping sellers write the required documents to meet both legal requirements and buyer demands. Having a completed seller's disclosure will help build your buyer's confidence in you and help you sell your house fast.


Mistake #8: Listing Errors

Mistake #8: Listing Errors

On average, listings with mistakes sold for 2.3% less and 47% slower than homes with complete listings. The best realtors know that providing buyers complete listings plus being knowledgeable about the Houston house selling process increases the chances of closing a sale.

Listing errors confuse buyers. Out of all the mistakes sellers make when selling a home, this is one that’s often overlooked but has costly consequences. In the last 10 years, nearly 50% of listings that didn’t sell had errors.

What makes it difficult to complete an error-free listing?

The Houston home selling process has a number of requirements with tedious processes.

These fees and the paperwork can be taxing, so many agents fail to provide their clients with complete listings and documentation.

To give you an idea, these are the percentage rates of the most common listing errors that appeared on 300,000 Houston listings:

Benefit of working with Best Houston Listing Agents

So, how crucial can listing errors be?

Here are some figures to help answer this question:

On average, listings with mistakes sold for 2.3% less and 47% slower than homes with complete listings.

Agents who committed 87% of listing mistakes produced less than $4M in sales per year.

In Houston, there are over 30,000 Realtors. Only about 10% of these agents were responsible for 90% of the transaction volume.

Statistically, these top 10% of agents were 72% less likely to have mistakes in their listings as compared to the other 90% of agents in Houston.

It might be tedious, but having an accurate and complete listing helps buyers learn more about your property and makes the selling process smoother in the long run.


Mistake #9: Overpricing At The Early Stages Of Selling

Mistake #9: Overpricing At The Early Stages Of Selling

On average, properties that stayed on the Houston real market for more than 90 days sold for 1.3% LESS than the median sale price, despite being priced 2.2% HIGHER when they were originally listed. The best real estate agents don’t need to overprice as a strategy. Don’t make the mistake of choosing an agent because they gave you the highest suggested list price for your home.

One of the most common mistakes when selling a home is overpricing properties.

Sellers tend to overprice because they want the best return for their investment. Some also believe that the work they’ve put into their properties over the years should translate to an increase in value.

While it’s understandable that you would want to sell your home for the most money, the strategy of ramping up the price, so you can reduce it later on, has proven to be quite risky.

Average Home Price vs. Time on the Market

Here are a couple of figures we gathered from analyzing 815,494 Houston homes:

-On average, properties that stayed on the Houston real estate market for more than 90 days sold for 1.3% LESS than the median sale price, despite being priced 2.2% HIGHER when they were originally listed.

-Properties that did the worst started by overpricing by 10% or more.

Selling Price versus Timing

What happens when you overprice your home?

Putting up a price that’s too high and too far from your home’s market value can produce a number of negative effects on your home selling experience.


Methodology & Research

Methodology & Research

Not only did we go through the representative HAR data fields, but we also manually reviewed samples (selected from regions where we have most of our team's listings) and analyzed both qualitative and quantitative factors. We then took that list and reviewed it with our experienced listing agents to determine the data for this article that we are comfortable sharing publicly. Contact us if you want even more advice on selling your home.

Our research team had a fun time with this project.

We tackled this from two main approaches:

1) We exported all HAR recorded listings with:

a) Status of either Sold, Terminated, or Expired
b) Since January 1, 2000
c) From Houston Key Map MLS areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38
d) List price above $140,000
e) Property type equal to either Single Family, Townhome, or Highrise Condo
f) Not listed "At Lot Value" (if a single family home)

We then aggregated this data into groups that had the same:
a) Property Type (e.g. comparing townhomes to townhomes)
b) Geo Market Area (areas defined by the HAR MLS Committee to separate the city)
c) Age (separated by decades, grouping all pre-1950 homes into the same age bracket)

Then we ran a regression analysis against the exported HAR fields to identify the correlation between each field and the Sold Price Per Square Foot value.

This provided a lot of data.

We also made the determination to lump many of the most correlated fields into one category labeled "Avoid Mistakes."

2) Best vs. Worst Comparison

Then, we gathered the list of the 50,000 sold properties (again grouped by Property Type, Geo Market, and Age) and pulled properties with the lowest sold price per square foot.

We called these "the bad examples."

We pulled another list of 50,000 sold properties (again grouped by Property Type, Geo Market, and Age) and pulled properties with the highest sold price per square foot.

We called these "the good examples."

Not only did we go through the representative HAR data fields, but we also manually reviewed samples (selected from regions where we have most of our team's listings) and analyzed both qualitative and quantitative factors.

We compared the original list price vs. sold price, listing agents, listing marketing, listing photos, the process of scheduling appointments, along with about two dozen factors.

We then took that list and reviewed it with our experienced listing agents to determine:


The Best Houston Realtor to Sell Your Home

The Best Houston Realtor to Sell Your Home

The Houston Properties Team has a well-defined structure based on the individual strengths of each member. Each member is a specialist in their role – which is why our homes sell faster and for more money than average.

Paige Martin, Broker Associate with Keller Williams Realty, and the Houston Properties Team are ranked among the top residential Realtors in the world.

They have been featured on TV and in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Reuters, Fox News in the Morning, Money Magazine, Houston Business Journal, Houstonia, and Houston Chronicle.

Paige Martin was just ranked as the #5 agent in the world with Keller Williams, completing over $1 Billion in Houston residential real estate sales.

Her recent awards include:

– 2021 Best Real Estate Teams in America, RealTrends.com
– 2021: Top 100 Women Leaders in Real Estate of 2021
– 2021: America’s Top 100 Real Estate Agents
– 2021: Top Real Estate Team (Houston Properties Team), Houston Business Journal
– 2021: Best Houston Real Estate Team, Best of Reader’s Choice
– 2021: Top Real Estate Team (Houston Properties Team), Houston Business Journal
– 2021: #1 Real Estate Team, Keller Williams Memorial
– 2020: America’s Best Real Estate Teams, Best of America Trends
– 2020: Best Houston Real Estate Team, Best of Reader’s Choice
– 2020: Top Real Estate Team (Houston Properties Team), Houston Business Journal
– 2020: #6 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Worldwide
– 2020: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Texas (Top Keller Williams Realtor)
– 2020: #1 Real Estate Team, Keller Williams Memorial
- 2019: Top Residential Realtors in Houston, Houston Business Journal
- 2019: America’s Best Real Estate Agents, RealTrends.com
- 2019: #5 Individual Agent, KW Worldwide
- 2019: #1 Individual Agent, KW Texas
- 2018: #5 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Worldwide
- 2018: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Texas
- 2018: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Houston
- 2018: America’s Best Real Estate Agents, RealTrends.com
- 2018: Top 25 Residential Realtor in Houston, Houston Business Journal
- 2018: Texas’ Most Influential Realtors
- 2017: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Texas
- 2017: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Houston
- 2017: #10 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Worldwide
- 2017: America’s Best Real Estate Agents, RealTrends.com
- 2017: Top 25 Residential Realtor in Houston, Houston Business Journal
- 2017: Texas’ Most Influential Realtors
- 2016: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Texas
- 2016: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Houston
- 2016: #20 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Worldwide
- 2016: Texas’ Most Influential Realtors
- 2016: Top 25 Residential Realtor in Houston, HBJ
- 2016: Five Star Realtor, Featured in Texas Monthly
- 2016: America’s Best Real Estate Agents, RealTrends.com
- 2015: #9 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, United States
- 2015: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Texas
- 2015: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams, Houston
- 2015: America’s Best Real Estate Agents, RealTrends.com
- 2015: Top 25 Residential Realtor in Houston, HBJ
- 2015: Five Star Realtor, Texas Monthly Magazine
- 2014: America’s Best Real Estate Agents, RealTrends.com
- 2014: #1 Individual Agent, Keller Williams Memorial

...in addition to over 318 additional awards.

Paige also serves a variety of non-profits, and civic and community boards. She was appointed by the mayor of Houston to be on the downtown TIRZ board.

Benefits Of Working With The Houston Properties Team

best realtors in Houston

Our team, composed of distinguished and competent Houston luxury realtors, has a well-defined structure based on the individual strengths of each member.

We find team approach as the most effective way to sell homes. We have dedicated people doing staging, marketing, social media, open houses, and showings. Each Houston Properties Team member is a specialist in their role—which is why our homes sell faster and for more money than average.

The benefits of working with a team include:

To meet all the award-winning members of the Houston Properties Team, please go here.


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