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Peggy Bellar, a real estate agent in the western Catskills hamlet of Margaretville, N.Y., recalls the languid days of two years ago when houses sat on the market an average of 200 days before they were sold. “Now we put up a listing on Wednesday morning and typically have it fully in contract with multiple bids by Sunday evening,” Ms. Bellar said. “So when a listing is taking longer or not getting the level of activity expected, we naturally wonder why.” In this manic market with its slim pickings, a harsh light is cast on houses that do not sell right away. Within weeks, the leftover is tainted. It sinks to the bottom of Zillow and Realtor searches. Buyers note the paltry agglomeration of “views” and “saves” and ask, “What’s wrong with it?” A better question may be: Is there an opportunity here that others overlook? “If a house has been hanging on the market for over 90 days you may get a real value purchase out of it,” said Dale F. Stewart, a salesperson at Houlihan Lawrence in Millbrook, N.Y. ADVERTISEMENT Continue reading the main story Ms. Stewart said she is working with a buyer who has an accepted offer on a property just outside Hudson, N.Y., in Columbia County, that has been listed for more than a year. “It’s a true diamond-in-the-rough parcel with a few dilapidated outbuildings,” she said. “My client has a vision and can see past what previous buyers could not.” The offer is about $100,000 below the asking price of $575,000. Related Manhattan Listings That Have Lingered According to the dozen agents in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who were interviewed for this article, houses languish on the market for both obvious and mysterious reasons. The property may be close to a busy road or cemetery. It may have a sagging roof or a tiny lot. The style may be an unfashionable log cabin or split-level rather than a chic, modern farmhouse or cottage. The interior may look dated (dark-toned and compartmentalized) rather than up-to-the-moment (flowing and white). In this age of online marketing and sight-unseen purchases, a house might also fail to sell quickly if it has been staged and photographed poorly, or if the photos exaggerate room sizes or retouch flawed surfaces so that buyers are disappointed when they do turn up for a showing. ADVERTISEMENT Continue reading the main story “As 99 percent of listings are viewed online, photos are very important,” said Kyle Hiding, of Coldwell Banker Realty in Essex, Conn. “Some agents still refuse to use a photographer and I feel it’s to the detriment of the seller.”     Image This Tudor in Milan, N.Y., which has been on the market since December and has had 11 price reductions, is here displayed in its summer finery, but the listing photos still show bare trees and a lawn with dead leaves.Credit...Tony Cenicola/The New York Times Even when pictures are professional, the story they tell may not be flattering. For instance, nothing says a house has been passed over as the image of a snowy lawn in June. A 1989 Tudor on three pastoral acres in the Dutchess County town of Milan, N.Y., has squatted on the market since December, with 11 price decreases from its original ask of $925,000. Why? The listing agent at Gary DiMauro Real Estate declined to comment, but the current photos showing bare trees and a covered in-ground swimming pool do it no service. (The current price, by the way, is $699,000.) While real estate agents agree on the importance of marketing, they are divided on other features that might keep a property from rushing into a contract. Like a location on a highly trafficked road. In rural mountain areas, Ms. Bellar pointed out the convenience of town-maintained roads that provide access to shopping and services, especially in winter. Amy Samett, a sales associate at Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty in Nyack, N.Y., said she would have rated a busy road higher on the list of drawbacks before the pandemic, “but it seems to be less of a factor now. Maybe because so many people are coming from the city, the noise is not as much of an issue?” Editors’ Picks ‘Halloween’ and the Problem With Its Sequels The Newest Power Player in Luxury’s First Family The Case Against Winston Churchill Continue reading the main story     Image A 1966 ranch house in Ivoryton, Conn., was on the market for 101 days until it sold to a buyer who overlooked cosmetic flaws and even received a rebate.Credit...Dan DeMayo Photography The interior styling of laggard properties can be off-putting or set the imagination on fire. Ms. Hinding had to talk reluctant clients into looking at a three-bedroom ranch house in Ivoryton, Conn. It needed “all cosmetics” and had an ugly above-ground pool, she said, “but the sellers had done all the heavy lifting: roof, furnace, water heater, and central air.” Her clients paid a little less than the asking price of $317,000 and were treated to septic system repairs and asbestos remediation. (Shoppers looking for bargains should take note when the listing displays a single, exterior photo, as this one did. When interiors are out of sight, the buyer seeking a turnkey property is probably out of luck.) Ms. Stewart described a $650,000 house in Kinderhook, N.Y., in Columbia County, which has been on the market for more than 275 days, as a “’70s love shack — it’s wall-to-wall carpet and super dated, but jeez, it could rock with $100,000 in.”     Image .

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