Why Isn’t Your Home Selling? 12 Common Reasons to Consider

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It’s any seller’s nightmare: you put your house on the market hoping for a quick sale — but boy, were you wrong. There hasn’t been a single offer and showing requests are few and far between, leaving you to ask: Why isn’t my house selling?

It’s frustrating, to say the least, but you shouldn’t wait any longer to make some changes, especially if your home’s total days on market is more than a month. Your days on market matter because the longer a house sits compared to other homes in your area, the more buyers — correct or not — will suspect something might be wrong. Don’t wait to make changes!

Home selling too slow?

Use HomeLight’s Simple Sale program to sell your home for a competitive price in as few as 10 days, with no additional fees, agent commission, or prep‑work.

Alisha Simpkins, a top-selling Chico, Calif., real estate agent says a home is “going to sell for the most amount of money in the first 30 days.”

A Massachusetts Realtor’s analysis found homes that sold within 10 days went for 101.3% of their asking price. After 120 days, the sale-to-list price ratio dropped to 97.6%. For a $293,000 home, you’re looking at $317,900 compared to $266,000.

Here are 12 of the most common reasons your home isn’t selling and actions you can take to get your sale back on track.

1. The price is too high

Homebuyers pay attention to overpricing. In a HomeLight survey of top real estate agents, 54% of agents have seen or heard about buyers backing out of contracts due to remorse about inflated home values.

“If it’s not condition, it’s always price,” says Simpkins. “And in fact, it’s usually always price.”

How do you know if your home is priced too high? Pricing a home for sale is deceivingly complex. To predict what buyers would pay, you must carefully review recent sales and make dollar adjustments to your property based on competitive differences.

Our Home Value Estimator can be a helpful tool for this task. Enter your address and answer a few basic questions about your home, and we’ll provide a preliminary home valuation in less than two minutes.

However, an online estimate is just the starting point. If you priced the home yourself, get a real estate agent’s opinion on if you were too ambitious.

“Eighty percent of what we do is strategic pricing; 20% is presentation for marketing,” says Regina Madiera-Gorden, a top real estate agent in Tacoma, Washington. “As agents, we have access to more on-demand information that paints a picture of where we should shoot for price.”

Additionally, pay attention to the feedback you get from people at open houses and showings. Were they disappointed at the home’s quality compared to the price?

You can also browse local listings. If your home is priced higher than nearby houses with better features and more upgrades, it’s a telltale signal that price is the issue.

What’s the fix?

In most cases, it’s time for a price drop.

A price cut may sound like the kiss of death for getting the value you’d hoped for. But in reality, price reductions are quite common and sometimes necessary to reel buyers in.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 31% of buyers considered a better price when purchasing a previously owned home.

So, how much should you lower the price?

“You don’t want to be the house that drops the price a thousand dollars every week,” says Simpkins. “I’d say a significant price reduction will get the job done.”

If a listing is getting a lot of showings but no offers, Madiera-Gorden suggests a 1% markdown might entice the right buyers. If there are few showings, a 2% to 3% price reduction may be necessary.

It’s also important to be mindful of online price filters. “Buyers search in $25,000 to $50,000 increments generally,” Madiera-Gorden explains. “So, we try to be cognizant of stepping into the next price bracket — if necessary — to get the property in front of the right buyers.”

2. You missed the market’s peak

Real estate isn’t as volatile as the stock market, but it can quietly shift while you aren’t paying attention.

According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights reports for Summer 2023, the rebalancing of the housing market is causing price reductions to become more common as sellers adjust to changed market conditions and increased buyer leverage.

“Homes priced right are selling quickly,” shares Christine Radford, a top real estate agent in Jacksonville, Georgia, a market Radford describes as 60% retirees and pre-retirees.

“Homes overpriced and or not in top condition are sitting longer. We have lots of picky buyers waiting for the right property who are in no rush to buy.”

Recently, Madiera-Gorden worked with sellers who knew of a house down the street with a similar floorplan that sold in two days for $20,000 above the asking price.

Since her client’s house had significant upgrades compared to the neighbors’, they planned to set an even higher list price than what the comp sold for.

However, in a mere four months since the neighbor’s sale, “The velocity of the market had really slowed, so we had to adjust our price,” Madiera-Gorden says.

What’s the fix?

Keep up with what’s happening in the market and examine buyers’ options in real-time. Madiera-Gorden and her daughter and business partner, Madison Lord sometimes take their sellers on an in-person or virtual home tour of similar properties.

Taking that journey with a professional allows sellers to arrive at a better understanding of how their home stacks up against others and how they can improve its appeal to buyers.

Depending on what the competition looks like, a seller may either choose to bring their house up to standard or reduce the price accordingly. For example, if every other comparable listing has a furnace that’s less than 5 years old and yours is upward of 12, maybe it’s time to install a new one.

3. You’ve got a specific problem to address

Even if a showing doesn’t provide you with a buyer, it gives you something important: intel. “Showing feedback is extremely important,” says Simpkins.

According to Simpkins, the questions your agent should be collecting from a showing are, “What’s wrong with this home? What would need to change to make you want to buy this home?”

If you get the same answer from multiple people, you know you have a problem.

What’s the fix?

Once you’ve identified that there’s an issue, you can work to mitigate it. If multiple buyers say your house is too dark, you can add lighting, declutter, or hire someone to clean the windows.

If buyers are having trouble envisioning something specific — where to hang a TV in a living room full of windows, or how to fit a king-sized bed in a smaller master bedroom — you can update your staging to illustrate a solution.

You also may need to address a significant cosmetic flaw or expensive repair. For example, in evaluating one of her listings, Lord noticed a massive splotch on a kitchen counter. She knew buyers would be deterred by having to replace it.

“Our preferred contractors put a new slab of quartz for $2,000,” she says. “Those types of fixes bring you value on the market.”

Of course, some things can’t be changed. What if your homeowners’ association dues are high or your street is clogged with cars going to the stadium every game day?

“Price cures all,” says Simpkins.

4. You’re working with the wrong buyers

Let’s say your home needs some work. The roof is getting old, the construction materials may contain asbestos or aren’t in the best shape, and there’s water damage you can’t afford to fix.

Or maybe you listed your home in a rush out of necessity — you need the extra cash, or a loved one is facing a change in health. But things aren’t moving at the speed you need them to.

Sellers who need to sell urgently may find that an off-market sale works better for them. Many buyers can be sticklers about home conditions. According to a NAR Generational Trends Report on Buyers and Sellers, only 27% of buyers compromised when it came to the condition of the home.

What’s the fix?

Sell your home to a real estate investor, house-buying company, or iBuyer instead. Some direct real estate buyers are more accepting of homes that require a little TLC. Most pay with all cash. Here’s how it usually works: You provide details about your home, the buyer names their cash price, and then decide whether you want to accept or decline the offer.

If this route interests you, consider requesting a cash offer from HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. Rather than do the work of pricing your home and staging it for the market, you will answer a few questions, such as how much work the home needs and how soon you plan to sell so that we can learn more about your situation.

In as few as 24 hours, we’ll provide you with a full cash offer that can close in as little as 10 days. Going this route provides you with a low-stress selling experience that’s much quicker than most transactions that require financing.

5. Your home is unconventional

Unique properties — large, high-end, or expensive houses — aren’t for everybody, so they usually take a little longer to sell.

For example, Simpkins recalls a client’s home that had two complete living spaces under the same roof. Although it wasn’t divided into two apartments, the home featured two kitchens, living rooms, and primary bedrooms on different floors.

To sell that property, Simpkins changed her marketing strategy. She concentrated on encouraging buyers to picture space for an Airbnb rental or a suite for live-in relatives.

What’s the fix?

First of all, patience. If your home is unconventional, you’ll probably have to wait for the perfect buyer.

Second, think about what appealed to you when you bought the home. There’s gotta be other buyers out there who will feel the same way.

Ensure your marketing and advertising strategy casts the distinctive features positively, so the property resonates with buyers who would appreciate its charms.

Finally, get that information in front of the right people. Besides online real estate sites, consider posting on Facebook groups, specialty websites, mailing lists, local apps such as Nextdoor, or even print publications that target your buyers.

6. Your staging is terrible — or non-existent

Showings allow buyers to get a feel for your home and allow them to envision the space as their own.

That’s hard to do if they’re tripping over children’s toys in the dining room or overwhelmed by travel tchotchkes bulging out of built-in bookshelves.

Unstaged homes can seem cluttered, cramped, dark, and small.

“Typically, a staged home sells for more money, and it does sell in a shorter amount of time,” says Simpkins.

Our research confirms the value of staging; well-staged homes sold for 18% more nationally than those with poor staging.

“Staging, new paint, and decluttering offer more than an increase in price,” adds survey participant Stacy Stanley, a top real estate agent in Grass Valley, California.

“It determines how desirable the home is to the market, how many offers it gets, and how fast it sells.”

What’s the fix?

Get a jump on your move. Declutter and pack up family photos and other treasures and place them in storage. Now that you can see the floors, walls, shelves, and other spaces, you can determine what to paint or repair.

Since you’re leaving, it’s understandable that you don’t want to fix things you’ve ignored for years. But, little upgrades often bring a considerable return on investment, as can hiring a professional stager.

“The right staging almost always doubles or triples your investment,” says Lord.

If the home is occupied

“If the seller is still living in the house,” Madiera-Gorden says, “we wouldn’t necessarily recommend staging every single bedroom — just your living areas, kitchen, bathrooms, and primary suite.”

Staging a three-bedroom home might cost $1,500 to $2,400. But, “If you partner with the right people,” she continues, “there’s no upfront cost to the seller because the fee is collected out of escrow.”

Remember that less is more. Staging isn’t about scattering potpourri and adding a ton of decor. Good staging focuses on minimizing distractions and maximizing layout and design to highlight a home’s best features.

7. Your curb appeal is no good

Buyers can’t appreciate your excellent interior if they don’t reach the front door or get out of the car. An overgrown yard or rundown facade stops buyers in their tracks.

It’s hard to believe paint, pressure washing, pine straw, and petunias can translate into thousands of dollars. But numbers don’t lie.

According to a recent NAR survey, 92% of Realtors across the country suggest improving a home’s curb appeal before selling.

What’s the fix?

Make the local garden club — or at least other sellers in the neighborhood — green with envy.

Without much effort or expense, you can DIY or work with a professional landscaper and contractor to upgrade your landscaping, get your grass a brilliant green, plant a few flowers, and fix anything weathered or broken on your home’s exterior.

8. Your listing photos aren’t professional quality

After completing all that work on staging and curb appeal, you’ll be excited to show off the house. But if your listing photos aren’t close to magazine quality, nobody will see them in person.

These days, a few poorly lit, blurry iPhone photos won’t cut it.

“We do professional photos, videography, drone footage, and virtual ‘walkable’ layout with every single client,” says Lord. “We even had photos taken for a fixer-upper that wasn’t super attractive because our presentation is always professional.”

The National Association of Realtors’ 2021 Generational report found nine in ten buyers ranked professional listing photos as the most valuable website feature in their home search.

What’s the fix?

Amp up your digital marketing, and replace bad photos with professional ones if you haven’t already. Talk to your agent about adding a video listing or 3-D walkthrough. Most agents contract with local photographers and pay for those services out of their commission.

If media is not included or you’re listing the property, a small investment in professional photography will deliver huge returns.

9. Your listing description is too dry

“Four-bedroom, two-bath duplex located on Uptown Street.”

Maybe “Just the facts, ma’am,” was all Sergeant Joe Friday needed to catch a crook on 1950s Dragnet. But, if your listing lacks imagination, you’ll fail to capture the attention of today’s buyers.

Is it a three-bedroom with an owner suite? Is it a contemporary or a Victorian? Is it near a zoo, park, college, or nightlife?

More than just describing physical location and features, you need to describe how those elements will make life fabulous for the lucky family who gets to live there.

What’s the fix?

Grab a pen and write a love letter to your home. Describe the features that make you love this place and buyers will feel the magic, too.

“We’re not selling a house so much as we’re selling lifestyle,” says Madiera-Gorden.

The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, parking spaces, and other data appear in the basic MLS stats.

“We don’t have to reiterate that information in the copy,” she says. “We look at: How can we paint a picture about this house? Who are our buyers? Where’s the opportunity? What can buyers see themselves doing in this home?”

Consult our guide to writing creative real estate listing descriptions that sell for inspiration.

10. Your marketing needs a makeover

If you’re relying on print ads and yard signs, you may not be generating excitement or reaching the right buyers.

“Buyers are most likely to find the house online first and send it to their agent,” Lord explains. “It’s so important — especially in a COVID world — to be very, very visible on social media and on all of those third-party sites.

What’s the fix?

Your best strategy is to engage a top-notch sales agent in your area to evaluate your home, identify opportunities, and implement a marketing strategy.

In addition, HomeLight’s Seller Resource Center offers marketing assessment and other tools to help evaluate and maximize your marketing strategy.

11. You’re getting bad advice

Nearly every issue on this list could be avoided by working with an experienced local agent.

Your real estate agent should collaborate on pricing, staging, and curb appeal as well as drive the marketing efforts and analyze the need to make changes based on feedback from showings.

Simpkins recalls an initial meeting with a potential client whose backyard lacked privacy. When she suggested installing a bamboo fence and making other improvements, the seller chose another agent.

The property didn’t sell in six months, so the seller rented it. The renter caused significant damage. “It cost my seller quite a bit of money to get the house back into the proper condition [and] on the market,” she says.

Regretting his prior decision, the seller asked Simpkins to represent him.

After allowing her landscaper to make the recommended changes to the backyard, “We actually received an offer within a week of putting it on the market,” Simpkins says.

What’s the fix?

Make sure you’re working with an agent who is an expert in your area or the kind of home you’re trying to sell. Whether from a well-meaning agent friend or relative from across town or on the other side of the country, advice from out-of-area agents or those specializing in a different property type can be a gamble.

“Their pricing can be off by a lot, or they just don’t know how to highlight the home features or the neighborhoods properly,” says Lord. “While they usually sell, we’ve seen King County brokers come into Pierce County and underprice homes.”

When you list with the wrong agent, Simpkins says, “You either end up taking a lot less for the home, or staying in it for another six months or a year.”

HomeLight’s data shows that the top 5% of agents nationwide sell single-family homes faster and for up to 10% more than average real estate agents. If you aren’t sure where to start your search for an agent, HomeLight would be happy to provide recommendations for up to three qualified and top-performing agents in your area.

12. You’re a helicopter seller

Sometimes it’s hard to let go. Even if you’re moving to your dream home, your equity in your current home is worth more than money alone. It’s filled with emotional ties and memories.

“Some sellers want to control the process,” says Madiera-Gorden. For example, sellers might want themselves or their agent to be present at all showings.

But, the seller’s presence can create problems. “That energy from the seller gives the buyers the feeling of being watched and prevents buyers from walking around the house as if it were their home,” explains Lord.

What’s the fix?

All it takes to stop hovering is a little willpower and a trip to a gourmet coffeehouse or swanky wine bar.

“It works the best when the sellers just pass off the keys and let a real estate professional guide them through the process,” says Lord. “It seems to flow a little bit better for everybody.”

It’s not too late to get that home sold

It can be discouraging to see buyers passing you by and new properties whizzing on the market and then off to closing at lightning speed.

But remember: It’s never too late to get your home sold. There’s a buyer for every home.

If your current plan isn’t working, maybe it’s time to pause and reset your strategy. You can take your home off the market, make some changes, and relist possibly with a new agent.

But, if you’re tired of tweaking your listing, you could also request a cash offer from HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform to skip the hassle.

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