Beyond the Days on Market: Finding Hidden Gems in Real Estate

We have been experiencing a seller’s market for roughly 10 years now, which evolved to an extreme level after the pandemic and has yet to subside. One of the most notorious and frequently cited values in a seller’s market is DOM (Days on Market). This number refers to the number of days a home is in Active status before a contract is executed and the status changes to Pending.

For years now, we have been accustomed to seeing single-digit DOM. As such, buyers are now conditioned to be wary of homes that have double or triple-digit DOM. Fifteen years ago, no one batted an eye to a listing that sat active for 6 months. Nowadays, if it sits for 6 weeks, everyone assumes there is something wrong with it. Buyers will disinterestedly scroll right past it without even a second thought. But I would like to take this opportunity to tell a different story that may change the way you look at some of these listings. I often tell my buyers not to disregard these “stale” listings, as they sometimes will be the perfect house. Here are a few examples:

#1 – Not updated but has good bones: These are my favorite! More often than not, it is owned by an elderly couple who have lived there for 40 years. And although they haven’t done recent cosmetic updates, they cared for the home deeply and maintained it well through the years, replacing components like mechanicals and roof whenever necessary. But those items don’t get the recognition they deserve in photos. Instead, what everyone sees in photos is wallpaper from 1985 and furniture that went out of style that same year. It is important to look past the outdated design features to what matters most: floorplan, space, structure, and location. The flooring can be replaced, the walls can be painted, the fixtures can be updated. And if the home has sat on the market for some time, we can usually negotiate a deal to help offset the costs of doing so!

Image of an outdated kitchen
Image of home needing decluttered
Overgrown landscaping image

#2 – Poor presentation: Whether the issue is a lack of housekeeping, excessive clutter, overgrown landscaping, or all the above, these homes can be hard to market. As buyers, we never know what a seller is going through, what led to their decision to sell, or what obstacles stand in their way. Not everyone can or will prepare their home like a professional stager would. But I would encourage buyers to see past the clutter to what is really important:  floorplan, space, structure, and location (noticing a trend here?) We can deal with the rest. With proper planning and valuable resources, good Realtors can effectively negotiate solutions that are a win-win for both parties.


For Sale By Owner Sign Image

#3 – Poor marketing: FSBOs (For Sale By Owners) are a common culprit of this mistake, but there are plenty of agent-listed examples out there also. Quality photos are crucial to attracting buyers. Good agents almost always hire a professional photographer to take and edit their listing photos. Small, blurry, dark, iPhone photos are a recipe for disaster, as they simply don’t do the home justice. The goal should be to showcase its attributes and make it shine! This is what gets buyers to stop scrolling and schedule a showing. The same goes for incomplete listing data. Real estate agents create formal searches on their MLS platform, based on their buyers’ specific criteria. If the data of a listing is entered inaccurately, some buyers may never even see it. For instance, a home that has 4 bedrooms but is listed as a 3 bedroom will not even hit the search of someone whose criteria is 4 bedrooms.

On the other hand, the data could be accurate, but photos are missing. I recently saw a price reduction come through on a home that has been on the market for months. It has a finished basement, which the listing data reflects. But there are zero pictures of the basement online. Buyers will either assume it has no basement or think the basement is in such bad shape that it wasn’t worth capturing. That, however, is not the case here. I saw the home and can confirm the basement is great. Unfortunately for that seller, the agent suggested a price reduction instead of making the effort to get good, accurate photos.

In wrapping up, it’s essential to look beyond the surface in the real estate market, where Days on Market (DOM) and other metrics don’t fully capture a property’s potential. Homes lingering on the market, often dismissed due to outdated aesthetics, clutter, or subpar marketing, could in fact be the ideal finds for discerning buyers willing to envision their transformative possibilities. For buyers, maintaining an open mind and considering the underlying value—such as location, structure, and renovation potential—can unveil incredible opportunities and deals. Conversely, sellers should not underestimate the impact of effective presentation and accurate listing details, which can significantly reduce DOM and enhance sale prospects. Ultimately, in a market that may appear overwhelming, a deeper examination beyond conventional indicators can lead to fulfilling transactions for both buyers and sellers, revealing hidden gems in the least expected places.

If you’re ready to discover the hidden potential in the market or want to showcase your home in its best light, reach out to us at the Home Living Team. Let’s turn your real estate aspirations into reality together.