How to Sell a House That Won’t Sell

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|10 min read

Deciding to sell a home is never easy. Homeowners often spend several weeks preparing their homes for listing in hopes of a speedy sale process. They have high hopes of receiving offers within a few weeks, or even a few days, of entering the real estate market. Unfortunately, some homeowners have to wait longer than others. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, houses stayed on the market for a median of 47 days in April 2024, this is a drop from 69 days in January 2024. While demand for housing is constantly changing, it can be frustrating if you list your home and it doesn’t get any offers.

Use this guide for how to sell a house that won’t sell if you want to speed up the process. 

Common Reasons Why a House Might Not Sell

The first step is to identify why your house isn’t selling. Before you can overcome an obstacle, you need to identify what the obstacle is.

Here are a few common reasons why houses stay on the multiple listing service (MLS) longer than others.

Property Is Priced Too High

The price point is one of the main reasons why a home won’t sell. While buyers may bid against each other in a hot market, everyone has their limit for what they’re willing to pay. Most buyers have an idea of what size home they can buy within their budgets based on the region.

For example, a buyer with $400,000 might expect to purchase a three-bed two-bath house in a desirable neighborhood. 

If your house is priced too high, you might not attract buyers. Even if a potential buyer can afford your home, the property taxes that come with the higher housing cost could push them out of their mortgage range.

This is why it is so important for your real estate agent to run a comparative market analysis (CMA) within your area. This will tell them exactly what your home is worth, reducing your chances of over-listing. 

Many buyers know that the listing price is negotiable and they can counter with a lower offer. However, if your house is priced too high, you might not even attract buyers in the first place who are interested in placing bids.

Unfavorable Market Conditions

Housing markets are incredibly fickle. While you might prepare your home during a favorable seller’s market, it could shift by the time you list your property. Both National and Regional trends can impact the buyer pool and the demand for housing in the area. Here are a few potential reasons why a housing market might cool:

  • Buyers are waiting to file their taxes: Mortgage lenders often require buyers to file taxes before they can approve loans. Some buyers might wait to place bids until after the tax deadline, creating a cooler spring market. 
  • Buyers are waiting for interest rates to drop: High interest rates can price out buyers or cause them to delay their purchases. The housing market might cool until macroeconomic trends change. 
  • There is an influx in housing: If many sellers list their homes at the same time, there will be a surge of inventory in the market. Instead of multiple buyers bidding on one home, there will be multiple homes for each buyer to consider. 
  • There are seasonal changes in play: The number of buyers and sellers in the market changes depending on the school year and the holiday seasons. While fewer people list their homes in November and December, there is often an influx of houses during summer so kids don’t have to move schools mid-year. 

Talk to your real estate agent about any market fluctuations they notice. They may recommend waiting to list your house or even moving up your listing date to take advantage of certain trends.

Specific Property Issues

If you are getting requests to tour your property but aren’t getting any offers, there may be issues with the home that are deterring people. Ask your real estate agent to collect feedback from the buyer’s agents to see how you can improve your home. Some things are hard to change about your property, but you may be able to make a few improvements or repairs that make the listing more desirable. 

Here are a few reasons why buyers might not decide to move forward with your home:

  • It needs significant repairs: Some buyers don’t want to take on major repairs while lenders might not approve loans on poorly maintained houses.
  • The listing price doesn’t reflect the state of the home: You may have overpriced your house if you did not factor in the repairs and improvements that need to be made to the property.
  • The interior is outdated: Even if your house is in good condition, it might need to be updated. Some buyers might not be willing to take on such a large project. 
  • It has niche spaces that don’t appeal to buyers: While a niche space like an art studio, woodworking room, or home gym might have been perfect for you, it could deter buyers. Other niche investments include a swimming pool, multiple kitchens, or a large playground. 

Try to identify any potentially fixable reasons why buyers might be deterred from your property. Investing in repairs or upgrades could make your home more desirable.

Poor Marketing Strategies

When you interview real estate agents, it is important to discuss their ideal marketing strategies. Inadequate or incorrect marketing efforts will reach the wrong buyers or prevent you from connecting with your target audiences.

This can significantly slow down the sale process. Here are a few reasons why your current marketing tactics aren’t working. 

Targeting the Wrong Buyer Demographic

Your agent should have a clear idea of who you are trying to market your home to. For example, some homes are designed for families, especially if they are built in good school districts.

Other homes are better for retired couples or individuals looking for starter houses. If you market your home to the wrong audience, potential buyers will be disinterested in the property. 

Inadequate Staging

Staging gives buyers an idea of how a room can be used. You can stage a home office, a reading nook, or a game room depending on your house and target market.

Without staging, potential buyers might not know how to fill a space. Consider investing in staging if your house is empty or if you have aging furniture that you don’t want to move with. 

Lack of Curb Appeal

First impressions are especially important in the home-buying process. Neat landscaping can increase the perceived value of the home whole potentially making it look bigger.

Consider investing in curb appeal improvements like pressure washing the driveway, laying sod, and planting flowers and shrubs around the home. This will make buyers more excited to see the property. 

Subpar Listing Materials

One of the best ways to attract more buyers to your property is with compelling marketing materials. Make sure you have professional photos of the property and descriptive content in your MLS profile. These materials give buyers information that can compel them to tour the property. 

Your agent can also provide supplemental information like the age of the roof, any recent upgrades, and the state of other systems like your appliances, plumbing, electrical work, and HVAC unit. This information tells buyers they are making a sound investment. 

Ineffective Advertising Channels

Talk to your real estate agent about their marketing efforts and the channels they are using to promote your house. You want to maximize your reach to connect with as many potential buyers as possible.

Their marketing efforts should not lessen the longer your house is on the market. If anything, they should look for new channels to promote your home.

Best Ways to Sell a House That Won’t Sell 

Now that you have a general understanding of why houses don’t sell, and can identify reasons why your home isn’t selling in particular, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

Here are a few potential solutions you can explore if you want to increase your chances of attracting prospective buyers and potentially getting offers. You might attempt one or several solutions depending on the state of your house and your house sale goals.

Work with a Better Real Estate Agent

Throughout the entire sale process, you need to have faith that you are working with the best real estate professionals in your area. There are plenty of agents in the real estate industry who can assist with marketing and selling your house. If you are unhappy with the performance of your Realtor, consider moving on to someone else who is a better fit. 

The first step to do this is to read your contract. You might have to pay penalties or fees if you fire your agent before the house sells. Make sure you have a clear understanding of any costs that come with this and decide if you need to retake your listing photos when you switch real estate agents. 

Next, talk to your Realtor. Explain that you are going to hire someone else and thank them for all the work that they did. Try to offer constructive feedback and be polite throughout this process. Remember that no one likes getting fired and your agent will be disappointed that they are not getting paid for the work they did. Realtors are paid on commission at the closing appointment, so anything they did to sell your home so far has been for free.  

Make sure there’s a new real estate agent you are working with who is going to do a better job. Otherwise, you could hop from Realtor to Realtor without getting your house sold.

Reprice the Property

If your house has been on the market for a few weeks and you are not getting requests for showings, you may need to reprice the property. Your real estate agent should review recently sold homes and see if the market value of your house is changing. If the market in your area has fewer buyers, then home sales will start to slow down and prices will drop. You may need to list your house appropriately to align with the current market.

When your Realtor proposes a price change, have a listing floor in mind. This is the minimum amount you are willing to accept for your home. This prevents you from losing money or having a short sale because your price drops below what you owe on your mortgage.

If you are worried that your asking price dropping too low, you can always pull your house from the market. You could list it in the future when conditions are more favorable or make improvements that increase its value.

Enhance Marketing Efforts

Work with your real estate agent to develop a fresh marketing plan and explore channels that you might not have used before. This is important whether you are working with a new realtor or staying with your current agent. If you didn’t invest in a professional photographer before, now may be a good time to update your MLS images. Your agent can also host open houses if your property is on a busy street. 

There are multiple marketing opportunities for your house and you don’t necessarily need a price reduction unless you have explored all of these outlets.

Improve Property Presentation

Talk to your real estate agent to confirm that you are making a positive first impression on anyone who visits your home. Improving the overall presentation can make people feel at home and potentially encourage them to linger at the property. Here are a few ways to boost your presentation.

  • Eliminate odor: Food odors, cigarette smells, and even strong candles or air fresheners can deter buyers and send them running out of the house.
  • Hire cleaners: Hire professionals to deep clean your property, removing grime and dust that you might not have noticed. 
  • Invest in staging: Consider renting furniture or hiring stagers to present your property appealingly. 
  • Think about your lighting: Clean your windows, open your blinds, and turn on your lights anytime you have a showing. This can make your house seem bigger and brighter.

If you have pets, talk to your Realtor to confirm they are not distracting buyers. Litter box odor, dander, and animal smells can potentially repel buyers.

Address Specific Issues

Just because you listed your home doesn’t mean you should stop working on it. Continue making improvements and adjustments to make the property more desirable. For example, it’s never too late to work on your curb appeal by planting flowers or pressure washing the exterior. 

You can also decide to pull the house from the market and invest in significant repairs that could make the property more desirable to buyers. Fixing significant issues with the foundation or electrical wiring could make it easier for buyers to get mortgages because of the good condition of the house. Even cash buyers might prefer to bid on homes in good condition so they don’t have to make major repairs as soon as they move in.

If you do not have the time, money, or ability to invest in repairs, make sure you’re marketing your home appropriately. Consider listing your house as-is and targeting real estate investor groups. This could be a good option if you want to sell your home fast instead of waiting for a buyer to secure financing.

However, you might get a lower price for your home than you want. This is another instance when having a minimum home sale amount is important.

Hire a Licensed Real Estate Agent Through FastExpert

A real estate agent cannot guarantee that your home will sell quickly, but they can use their skills and experience to attract prospective buyers. The first step of any home sale process is hiring a qualified Realtor. First, turn to FastExpert.

You can read the profiles of agents in your area and identify a few that have your ideal experience levels. Next, interview your agents. We recommend interviewing at least three different realtors to identify the top marketing and pricing strategies. Once you have a trusted partner, you can move forward with the home sale.

No one is happy when they list their home on the MLS and it doesn’t sell. However, if you are persistent in your marketing tactics and list your house for the right price, you will attract buyers. Try to be flexible in the listing process and use the various opportunities discussed in this guide to make your home appealing to anyone who tours it.

Amanda Dodge

Amanda Dodge is a real estate writer and expert. She has worked in the field for more than eight years. She spends her time writing and researching trends in real estate, finance, and business. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communications from Florida State University.

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