Though September's home showings provide reason for optimism compared to last year, Charleston area brokers say it's still important for sellers to make sure their home is at its best when it hits the market.
And they have several tips for homeowners looking to sell.
Stacy Smith, the broker in charge at Smith Spencer Real Estate, said recent data has shown a dip in home showings, but September did see a 10 percent uptick compared to last year.
The No. 1 reason showings are down is incorrect sale pricing. No. 2 is a lack of professional photographs of homes. No. 3 is an improperly staged home in photos, according to Smith.
"Sellers that have the most success take all aspects of the home sale seriously and consult with their real estate adviser about where to price to get it sold quickly," Smith said. "Every single time I have a seller who is unable to sell, or someone who has been through three or four Realtors, the Realtor is generally not the problem."
Rob Woodul, broker in charge at Carolina One Real Estate, said its more important for sellers to look at data on the number of closed units, because those are up from last year.
He said it is still a seller's market in Charleston.
"Though showings are down, I think people are moving here for jobs and they're moving here wanting to buy," Woodul said. "From January to September, we're seeing the highest number of pending listings we've had in the last 10 years. Pending doesn't mean that there's going to be a close, but it's an indicator of closing that could happen."
But 31-year-old Michael Terzo, who put his 1,550-square foot Summerville home on the market more than 30 days ago, is getting antsy about how few people are walking through the door. He had a few showings in the beginning, but it's been slower and slower.
"I don't think we've had a viewing in a week-and-a-half or so," Terzo said. "My expectation was that the Realtor would (have viewings), but I feel like there's not been enough (showings) at this point. We're coming to the realization that we might have to get creative or start marketing ourselves through social media."
Terzo said it's been a bit discouraging, but he knows October is supposed to be a slow month of the year for real estate. He's made sure his home is listed on Craigslist, Zillow and Facebook.
He's checked the boxes Smith and Woodul say he should have: He had a professional photographer come in; the house was staged; and it's priced competitively.
"The photos turned out amazing, and when our Realtor makes a Facebook post, I share it to all the Facebook groups," Terzo said.
Still, Terzo is anxious and is considering a Facebook ad campaign.
"The house has good curb appeal. It's a great looking house," Terzo said. "I think it isn't getting in front of enough people's eyes. The Realtor told us to just be patient."
Sellers have to keep in mind that their biggest competition is new development, where homes are fresh slates for new families, not spaces with memories.
Homeowners need to think about putting their best foot forward: What is the most special thing about their property? Maybe the home is older but it's got a great waterfront. Put those photos first and early, Smith said. Make sure the photos show lots of natural light.
De-personalize the space as much as possible, take down family photos and take down the sports paraphernalia, Smith said. Another tip: Home showings do better on sunny days. When it comes to smells, baked cookies are a hit or miss, but definitely avoid the smell of vanilla.
If there's a trace smell of a pet, your chances go down, but don't try to cover it up either, Smith said. Don't post a picture of your home with a pet in them. It's not about selling it as your home; it's about selling the space as someone's future home. A pet in the picture takes away from a buyer's own vision for the space.
"Evidence of a pet is mostly negative because people have strong opinions one way or another," Smith said.
One Realtor website isn't better than the other, and all listings often land in multiple places, Smith said. Still, try to ensure homes are listed on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com.
Smith stressed the need to use a professional photographer. Their prices vary, but they often begin around $150 and can reach $300 or more. Homeowners also have the option to include drone photography or marketing videos of agents walking through and talking about the homes.
Woodul differed on home staging, noting that a lot depends on the individual seeing it. Some want to see how big a room is and envision it with their furniture. Others want to see how people placed their furniture throughout the home. Some Realtors work with local artists to display work in the home.
When it comes to homeowners marketing their homes on social media, Woodul said simply, "Why not?"