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If you’re a homeowner who’s currently struggling to sell your property, you’re not alone. Selling a house often involves a mixture of emotions, and it can become frustrating when your home sale stalls. Two questions that might be ringing in your mind right now are: Did I price too high? How long do I wait before reducing my house price?
In today’s changing real estate market, understanding the right time to lower your house price can be the deciding factor between a quick sale and a prolonged, agonizing wait. While it’s only natural to want the highest possible return on your investment, the lack of offers might indicate that your house is overpriced for the current market conditions.
With the help of top real estate agents, we’ll unpack the factors to consider and provide proven insights to help you decide when it might be time to adjust your price.
How can I tell if my home sale has stalled?
In many U.S. housing markets, “the pendulum has swung,” says Topher Kauffman, a top-performing real estate agent in Summerville, South Carolina, with 14 years of experience. “Some sellers have gotten the memo, and the ones that haven’t are still sitting on the market.”
But, because the market is fluid and can vary depending on location, there’s no precise timeframe in which your house should sell.
Reflecting on his 21 years of experience, “There are times when I’m advising the seller to reduce the price,” Las Vegas, Nevada, top agent Rick Ruiz says, “and other times when I’m coaching the seller to have patience and not reduce the price.”
Ruiz bases each recommendation on real-time market data. Even though sellers can’t access the extensive analytics available to real estate agents, Ruiz says these three tell-tale signs are a good indication to sellers that their market potential is stalling:
1. Less foot traffic: You’re not getting the amount of foot traffic that similar homes of your size and location are getting.
2. Lookers but no offers: You’re getting a lot of traffic but no offers. That usually means buyers aren’t finding value in the price of the home.
3. Listing is faltering online: The number of people who have clicked on your listing or saved it as a favorite on Zillow, Facebook, etc., is far below other properties in the same sector of the market.
Keeping an eye on your competitors’ sales and your area’s inventory can be more important than measuring your days on market (DOM) to the local average.
NAR’s 2022 data shows buyers nationwide looked at an average of five homes in person and four homes online. So, if your area has a large inventory, the DOM may be higher than if fewer homes are available.
“You should be concerned if you’ve got a lot of competitors and everyone else has been on the market for less time than you,” Ruiz says.
So, really, whether your house has been sitting on the market too long boils down to offers and engagement compared to similar properties.
How long should I wait before reducing my house price?
Although there are regional fluctuations based on the local market, data shows a seller’s greatest chance of receiving their listing price — or above — is during the first two weeks the home is on the market.
Data shows 74% of homes sold in May 2023 were on the market for less than a month.
According to a 2022 report from the National Association of Realtors:
- 72% of sellers sold for their full asking price.
- 19% of sellers sold after one price reduction.
- 4% of sellers sold after two price reductions.
- 2% of sellers sold after three price reductions.
- 3 % of sellers sold after four price reductions.
- 90% of sellers received their listing price if sold within two weeks.
- 45% received a full-price offer after a month on the market.
- 31% received a full-price offer after four months on the market.
In the fading wake of the pandemic-era housebuying frenzy, experienced agents like Kauffman and Ruiz are now tempering seller expectations for high asking prices by providing data on changing interest rates and a smaller buyer pool. “Most people want to start [up] here, and I know exactly what’s happening with this ball rolling downhill, and we’re going to wind up here,” Kauffman says.
If you suspect you’ve overpriced your home, a swift price correction is better than waiting additional weeks. Statistically, the longer your house sits on the market, the lower price you’ll fetch.
What’s the best day of the week to reduce my home price?
Because many buyers schedule weekend trips to Las Vegas specifically to view homes, Ruiz prefers to post new properties and make price reductions on Thursdays.
“I want to make sure my listings are refreshed to go live on Thursdays,” he explains, “ to get max traffic going into the weekend.”
Are price reductions more common as the market shifts?
Interest rates, inventory, and buyer demand frequently fluctuate and influence the market, including the selling price and the sales pace.
“Every market is different,” says Ruiz. For example, in 2022, as interest rates spiked, he recalls the Las Vegas market experienced a downturn in the seller’s market with massive price reductions, fewer transactions, and higher inventory.
In 2023 as inventory decreased and transactions increased, “The supply-and-demand curve is moving in favor of the seller,” he reports. “We’re not seeing any reductions in our market at all unless something’s been sitting on the market for a really long time — which means it’s grossly overpriced.”
How many times should I drop my home’s price?
No seller ever wants to reduce their home’s price. That’s why professionals place so much importance on making sure your home is priced correctly in its premiere listing.
However, if an adjustment is imminent, our experts suggest that making a single, well-timed, meaningful reduction is better than making a series of smaller cuts over time. Since a reduction can be the catalyst for multiple offers, you may even consider it to be another component of your sales strategy.
“If you’re on the market for 90 days and there’s a decent amount of inventory,” he says, “you’re probably going to drop the price at least one time.”
“A home can only sell for so much,” Kauffman agrees. “They can only go so high on appraisals, and honestly, you’re only going to bring in so much cash over value anyway.”When sellers agree a price reduction is necessary, Stephanie Termine, a top real estate agent in Cleveland, often recommends an 8% to 10% decrease. “If we’re not getting any traffic on showings those first few days, then we probably missed the mark by that much,” she says.
Ryan Lundquist, a certified residential appraiser in the Sacramento area, says there’s nothing wrong with a 5% reduction; however, dropping your price by 1% may not be worthwhile. It’s not enough to attract buyers searching in a different price range but could grab the attention of buyers and their agents who have been tracking the market, looking for room to negotiate.
“It’s really tough when you miss the mark on price in the beginning because buyers are very savvy, and they get alerts that your price has dropped,” Termine explains. That’s when buyers ask sellers to include home warranties and closing costs.
If your home stays on the market for the full length of a traditional, six-month Realtor’s contract, Ruiz says you might expect to drop the price two or three times.
How can I get help to price my home right?
Our experts say comps — or recently sold nearby homes with similar characteristics to yours — should be the North Star of your pricing strategy. “If you’re seeing similar properties getting into contract in your neighborhood and you’re not generating any activity, you want to start asking yourself what the problem is,” Lundquist says.
Here are a few tools to help check the comps and whether your price is in line:
Get an online home value estimate
To find out what your home might be worth, you can get a quick online estimate from an automated valuation model (AVM) tool such as HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator. Based on your answers to a few questions about your property, our tool combines your home’s last sale price with recent sales records for other properties in the same neighborhood.
Once you enter your address and fill out a short questionnaire, the platform provides a preliminary home valuation in less than two minutes. That quick estimate provides a starting point for determining your home’s value in today’s market.
Consult with a top local real estate agent
Because of their constant engagement in local markets, top real estate agents are an invaluable resource for determining price, marketing your home, and managing all aspects of a sale.
Experienced Realtors® complete a comparative market analysis (CMA), which compares the price of recently sold properties in your area with similar square footage, overall condition, and the number of bedrooms and baths.
They factor in special features such as a renovated gourmet kitchen or a lake view. They also consider a mountain of other market trends, including price per square foot for the similar homes in your area and the total supply of unsold homes.
HomeLight offers many resources to help you learn about everything that goes into a comparative market analysis and how it can help you adjust your asking price if needed.
Get an appraisal
As interest rates have risen, the pandemic-era seller’s market has cooled in many places throughout the country. Still, sellers have been slow to reconcile their expectations and pricing strategies with that reality.
In fact, a HomeLight survey found 52% of top real estate agents say the biggest challenge sellers face is the temptation to overvalue their homes. In fact, 54% of agents have recently seen buyers back out of contracts because of inflated list prices.“The best thing sellers can do is listen to their agents and listen to the market,” adds Lundquist. If the seller and their agent differ by 15% on price point, paying for a pre-listing appraisal can mediate the discussion.
“An appraisal can be a valuable tool, providing tons of additional insight,” Lundquist says. The third-party evaluation can both determine value and predict how much a buyer’s lender will underwrite.
How can you tell if my home price might be off?
It’s a good idea to periodically revisit your agent’s marketing plan to consider whether your home is being promoted properly online and if you’ve accurately assessed your home’s condition. If you’ve accounted for these factors, the problem is probably price.
“A lot of sellers are not super realistic about what they can get for their homes today,” Termine says. “When I sit down with a seller, and my comps and my data don’t match what they think they can get, we have to have a very honest conversation.”
Kauffman agrees. “The more honest you are when I’m sitting here in front of you, the more I will know how to take care of you,” he says. “That realistic perspective is key.”
That conversation will explore finding solutions to these common issues:
Your listing has exceeded the ‘days on market’ average for your area
Days on market refers to the time between when a house is listed to when it goes under contract with a buyer. Federal data shows the property listings remained on the market for a median of 43 days in May 2023, up from 30 days in May 2022 but significantly down from 74 days in January.
Solution: Days on market metrics vary by area. Check with your agent about how fast other nearby homes are selling compared to yours.
Your home value has been impacted by a change in the market
There’s some indication the Federal Reserve may not raise the interest rate in June. However, at the end of May 2023, the rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hovered around 6.88% compared to 5.36% a year earlier.
Because a larger percentage of their monthly payment will be devoted to interest, buyers nationwide are likely to scrutinize the value and features of your home versus similar properties.
On a local level, factors such as the opening or closing of a major employer or a blue ribbon school in your neighborhood also impact prices in your area.
Solution: If the comps you used to price your home are three- to six-months old, you may need to revisit your decision using more recent or even pending sales data. Your listing agent can also reach out to the other agents as their comparable homes enter escrow to find out the sales price before the information is available publicly.
You’ve had showings but no offers
You’ve dropped everything to clean up your home and accommodate a showing request more times than you can count. But each tour ends up being fruitless, leaving you wondering what could be wrong. “If we don’t have an offer within 48 to 72 hours — and we’re getting a ton of traffic and showings — then we’ve probably missed the mark on price,” says Termine.
Solution: Rule out other potential culprits, such as a defect like a weird smell or a damaged kitchen counter that could be surprising buyers when they visit the home. As a next step, you might bring in a friend to view your house with an objective lens and provide feedback or tour neighboring listings for a fresh perspective. Doing so may provide clarity as to whether your price is accurate.
What else could be wrong with my home price?
Here are a few other pricing traps where real estate experts advise caution:
You’re looking for a unicorn buyer
It’s true pandemic-era, low interest rates spurred sky-high cash offers without contingencies and bidding wars. However, those seller-centric scenarios have largely gone the way of mask mandates and toilet paper shortages.
In some hot local markets, buyers may be willing to pay any price and agree to any terms to get the property they want. But, “you don’t want to price for those unicorns; you want to price for the market,” says Lundquist.
Ruiz advises his clients that pricing for a unicorn buyer is likely to backfire. “Too many people point to the outlier in the evaluation report — the one person, who sold for a record price — and sellers get attached to that number,” Ruiz explains.
He says that pricing strategy typically results in less foot traffic and even fewer offers in line with your expectations. Furthermore, as we’ve noted above, the longer your house sits on the market, the less likely buyers will be motivated to offer the asking price. “So by overly pricing your house — especially in a market that’s not hot — you’re setting yourself up for disaster,” Ruiz says.
You’re straddling price brackets
For decades, shoppers have affirmed the power of 99 as a pricing strategy in retail. Staying under a threshold even by one unit — paying $9.99 instead of $10 — makes consumers feel like they’re getting a deal.
However, that tactic rarely works well in real estate. Most real estate search engines use preset parameters of round numbers that range from $100,000 to $1.8 million.
Last year, the first step 47% of buyers took to find their new home was searching for properties online. Understanding the price brackets and pricing your home correctly allows your listing to pop up in the searches of the greatest number of potential buyers.
“If you price your home at $299,999, you are missing the folks who are searching in that $300,000 and up range,” Termine says. Her experience also shows that buyers explore homes within $25,000 increments. For example, they may consider homes within the $300,000 to $325,000 range.
Still convinced your home is priced correctly?
Before lowering your asking price, make sure your marketing and home presentation are hitting the mark. If you follow your agent’s advice, your home will probably be in a prime position when it hits the market.
To further enhance your chances of a sale, be certain:
1. Your home is accessible to buyers and their agents
Since a home is usually a family’s largest investment, most buyers want to get a feel for the property firsthand. They may even walk through multiple times before they make an offer.
If you have limited hours for showings or open houses, or you listed the property before it was ready to show, then lack of access could be the problem. “Access is a big deal,” says Ruiz.
Even in the seller’s market, properties with limited access due to tenants, owner health issues, pets, etc., are likely to have less foot traffic, more days on the market, and fewer offers.
“If you’re in a buyer’s market and there’s no or little access, plan for your home to sit on the market a long time,” cautions Ruiz.
2. Your home looks move-in ready
When buyers visit a home with overgrown landscaping, bizarre paint colors, or outdated features, “all they see is additional money they have to spend,” Termine says.
To get the best price and appeal to the greatest number of buyers, you should:
- Paint with neutral colors
- Replace dated and dirty carpets
- Deep clean and declutter
- Spruce up your landscaping
You might even consider making upgrades that impress buyers.
“Sellers are upgrading the kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, and paint. They understand many of today’s buyers are looking for homes that don’t need work,” reports top Chicago agent Courtney Monaco in HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights.
According to agent survey responses, the most popular upgrades that increase ROI include:
- Open concept kitchen with family room
- Kitchen island
- Energy-efficient and/or smart appliances
- Ample drawer and cabinet storage space and
- A walk-in pantry
3. Your listing includes professional photos
Many real estate agents work with professional stagers and photographers to ensure each room looks inviting online. Our experts have also compiled a list of DIY design and staging tips to help your home look its best for buyers.
“Effective marketing starts with great consumer-facing experience with an online presence featuring professional photos,” says Ruiz.
4. Your listing highlights neighborhood charm and walkability data
Your listing should be a love letter to your home — telling buyers about everything that makes it special. Be sure your description includes not only the best features of your property but nearby schools, parks, theaters, restaurants, and other attractions locals love.
5. Your listing mentions your home’s trending features
For example, Lundquist says the pandemic prompted a rise in the popularity of larger homes and properties with patios, pools, and other outdoor living areas. A staged home office can also be a plus.
Be sure to mention these bathroom upgrades, which a recent HomeLight survey identified as being important to buyers:
- Double-sink vanity
- Modern lighting
- Rain or dual-head showers
- Vanity with extra storage and
- Soaker tubs
6. Your marketing plan targets the right buyers — particularly if you have an unconventional property
“Even the greatest marketing materials won’t reap results unless they reach the right audience — whether that’s by digital, phone, mail or other channels,” says Ruiz.
Homes with quirky features, unique layouts, or unusual locations aren’t for everyone.
For example, a split-level home might take longer to sell than a ranch-style layout in a neighborhood attractive to older buyers. But the right buyers — maybe a multi-generational family — will be thrilled to find the perfect place.
If an unusual property is priced right but not selling fast, Lundquist advises sellers to have a little patience and listen to the market. “Your unique property might just need more exposure time,” he says.
In addition, HomeLight experts have several ideas about how to make your home and your listing more attractive to buyers.
If your price is perfect, your home looks stunning, and your marketing reaches its targeted audience, showings should increase, and hopefully, offers will follow.
7. Your pricing strategy anticipates where the market is headed
“Whether it’s an inclining, declining or steady market,” says Ruiz, “ you want to have a constant awareness of not only where the market is, but where the market is headed.”
He cautions sellers to keep in mind that when looking at sales data and comparables that closed in the last 30 to 90 days, you’re actually seeing a snapshot of properties that went under contract 45 to 180 days ago. It may not reflect today’s market.
To price effectively, “You want to consider competitors’ pricing, foot traffic, consumer confidence, transactions in the last seven to 30 days, and what’s expected to happen in the market in the next six to 12 weeks,” Ruiz says.
Are there other home-selling options?
Even if the reduced pricing doesn’t yield the ideal buyer, sellers still have other options.
Because the market is in constant motion, you can avoid many pricing and other pitfalls by partnering with a professional. HomeLight can connect you with a trusted top agent in your area in about two minutes.
If you’re determined to market the property yourself, another alternative is to remove the property from the market for a while. After a little reflection, a few improvements, and maybe even a market shift, you can list the property later with a plan that makes your home more attractive to the target audience.
Another consideration is selling the property “as is” through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform, which provides all-cash offers for homes in almost any condition nationwide. If you’re frustrated by the traditional listing process and don’t have the time or energy to monitor the market or work with an agent, Simple Sale allows you to skip repairs, staging, and showing and offers the opportunity to close in as little as 10 days.
Even if your home hasn’t sold in record time for a record price, you always have additional opportunities to devise a strategy that results in a sale. Since monitoring your local market can take a lot of resources, time, and effort, partnering with a professional may be your best option.
Fortunately, no matter where you live, HomeLight has all the information you need to get real-time estimates on your home’s value, tips on marketing, and even connect you to a top agent in your area in less than two minutes.
With HomeLight’s resources and a pricing strategy from a top agent, a successful sale is on the horizon.
Writer Nicole Wisniewski contributed to this story.
Header Image Source: (Roger Starnes Sr / Unsplash)
Frequently asked questions
For even the most seasoned real estate agents, predicting the market is a constant challenge. But sophisticated tools and data from MLS, electronic lockbox keyturn tracking, and website monitoring provide the most relevant, responsive, real-time data for decision-making that can result in better marketing and a quicker sale.
Since anything in print is likely to be outdated, top real estate agents suggest researching other properties online and possibly even hitting the streets or even visiting a few open houses to get a feel for:
- How many people are coming into that open house?
- What does the engagement look like?
- What does the demographic look like of people that are going in there?
- How much time are visitors spending in an open house?
- What kind of level of interest are people expressing in real time in the property?