I go for a walk around the neighbourhood just about every evening. I'm not getting much other exercise these days, and the walk is good for me :) On this walk I notice things like which houses are for sale and how long they've been listed. The housing market in Waterloo is still pretty hot, so things tend to sell reasonably quickly. If something hasn't sold for months and months, you have to ask what's wrong with the place.
There's this one house that has been up for sale for about three months. It has a path beside and behind it, a fairly large lot, and a bunch of trees. It's a single-family home, the area is quiet, and it looks pretty nice and well-kept from the outside. So why hasn't it sold?
I looked on the mls site, which allows you to search find all houses for sale in a given region in Canada. Houses like this one in this area are selling for around $330-350K. This particular house was listed at $420K, but the price has been dropped to $399K. The house itself is listed here. These pictures show a pretty nice house with the kinds of amenities you'd find in this area (well, the sauna is a little unusual, but some would say that it's a selling feature). It's a little expensive, but that shouldn't have necessarily stopped it from selling. There must be something that makes it worth the extra money.
The realtor has uploaded some additional photos for this house. They're here. I think the mystery is partly solved by careful perusal of these pictures. The first few photos show a nice house from the front and the entryway. The next couple show an underdecorated dining and living room. And then - whoa, what is that thing on the ceiling over the breakfast nook? Is that a real plant? That is some kind of decorating.
So not only is this house overpriced for this area, it isn't decorated in a way that would make it easily saleable. The pictures don't make it look particularly welcoming or cozy - and that thing in the breakfast nook, well, that's weird. The colours in the rooms come from the carpets, and those colours are a little strange. I watch a fair number of those decorator shows on tv, and they have redecorated quite a few homes that look like this in order to sell them. This house probably still won't sell for $399K, unless the realtor gets a decorator to makes them paint and put up new draperies and stuff. And who makes them do something with the unlandscaped backyard :)
Compare that house to the ones here and here, which are in this same area. These ones are much nicer and haven't been for sale for nearly as long. They're also quite a bit cheaper and will probably sell pretty quickly.