Selling a home can be an emotionally taxing and complex process. This becomes more true the longer your home sits on the market. When you list your home, you expect it to attract numerous offers and sell quickly.
If you’re wondering, “Why isn’t my house selling?” you’re not alone. Many homeowners face this challenge, and the reasons are multifaceted. In this article, there are 38 reasons why a house will struggle to sell. We can almost guarantee that your reason is on this list. We’ll offer insights and actionable solutions to turn a prospective buyer into a satisfied homeowner.
Setting the right price for your home is a delicate balance. An overpriced property can stagnate on the market, while an underpriced one can leave money on the table. Homeowners hear stories about homes selling for 100’s of thousands above asking price. Without understanding the context, they think they can do the same.
An overpriced home often attracts fewer potential buyers, resulting in longer listing durations, reduced bargaining power, and sometimes, eventual sale prices lower than market value due to perceived negative stigmas.
To ensure an accurate and competitive home valuation, consider the following:
- Professional Appraisal: Hiring a licensed appraiser will provide a detailed report on your home’s value, considering its unique features, condition, and comparables.
- Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): Real estate agents use CMAs to compare your home to similar properties that have sold recently in your area, adjusting for differences like square footage or home features.
- Stay Updated: Real estate markets are dynamic. Regularly review comparable sales in your area, especially if your home remains unsold for an extended period.
- Objective Feedback: Emotional attachment can cloud judgment. Friends, neighbors, or professionals can provide unbiased opinions on your home’s worth.
- Market Conditions: Understanding whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market can influence your pricing strategy.
The majority of potential buyers want a move-in-ready property. Homes requiring repairs or renovations represent added costs and effort for buyers. Additionally, lenders may be hesitant to approve mortgages for homes with significant issues, limiting the pool of potential buyers to those who can afford repairs out-of-pocket or invest in substantial renovations.
According to a 2016 survey of 1,250 U.S. adults from Coldwell Banker, 71 percent of Americans want a move-in ready home.
If your home needs significant repairs, you may feel tempted to do a complete renovation. In most cases, this is a waste of time, and you should accept an offer for your home as-is. Complete renovations take time, which means more time spent paying taxes, mortgage, and electrical.
Yes, an outdated design can indeed make a home harder to sell. Modern buyers often gravitate towards contemporary aesthetics and layouts that align with current trends.
You’re fighting two uphill battles when selling an aesthetically outdated home:
- An antiquated design simply looks less appealing.
- It can also signal potential underlying issues or the need for costly renovations.
Homes with outdated kitchens, bathrooms, or floor plans might be seen as projects requiring additional time and investment.
Online listings are often potential buyers’ first contact point in today’s digital age. Poor-quality photos fail to capture a property’s best features, making it less appealing or even misleading to viewers. Blurry, dark, or unprofessionally composed images can leave a negative first impression, causing many potential buyers to skip over the listing entirely in favor of more visually appealing options.
Not everyone has a luxury camera, but you can still take amazing shots with a smartphone. Take a look at some of the photos we took after rehabbing homes.
In today’s competitive real estate market, listing a property isn’t enough. Effective marketing strategies ensure a home reaches its target audience and stands out amidst other listings.
Some homes receive offers while others stagnate. Often, this disparity isn’t about the property itself but the marketing.
Here are a few of the most common marketing mistakes:
- Posting subpar online photos.
- Not providing adequate property information that differentiates a home from others.
- Underestimating the power of agent previews, where the agent does a walkthrough of the home and asks questions so they can find the right buyer.
- Restricting home showings.
- Not adding buyer incentives.
Location, Location, Location!
As the saying goes, “Location, location, location.” Several location-related issues can make a home harder to sell:
- Proximity to Busy Roads or Highways: Noise, pollution, and safety concerns can deter potential buyers, especially families with young children.
- Undesirable Neighborhoods: Areas with high crime rates, poor maintenance, or a declining socio-economic trend can be less appealing.
- Lack of Amenities: Homes far from schools, hospitals, shopping centers, or public transport might be less desirable for convenience-seeking buyers.
- Poor School Districts: Families often prioritize good schooling. A poorly rated school district can affect a home’s desirability.
- Industrial or Commercial Adjacency: Living near factories, warehouses, or busy commercial zones can introduce noise, traffic, and aesthetic concerns.
Poor Curb Appeal
Curb appeal refers to the attractiveness of a property when viewed from the street or sidewalk. It’s essentially the first impression a home gives off, encompassing the exterior of the house, landscaping, driveway, sidewalks, and any other elements visible from the curb.
Poor curb appeal can make a home harder to sell for several reasons:
- First Impressions Matter: Potential buyers often make quick judgments based on initial appearances. A home lacking curb appeal may be dismissed before a buyer steps inside.
- Perceived Value: A well-maintained exterior suggests the home’s interior is equally cared for. Conversely, poor curb appeal can give the impression that the house might have hidden maintenance issues or problems.
- Emotional Connection: Buyers are more likely to connect with a home that looks inviting from the outside. A pleasant exterior can evoke feelings of warmth, safety, and belonging.
- Photographs in Listings: With many property searches beginning online, good curb appeal ensures that listing photos grab potential buyers’ attention and encourage them to learn more.
- Competitive Edge: In a market with many available listings, homes with better curb appeal can stand out and attract more viewings.
- Negotiation Power: Poor curb appeal can weaken a seller’s negotiation position. Buyers might perceive a poorly maintained exterior as a leverage point to bid down the asking price.
In essence, good curb appeal acts as effective visual marketing, enticing potential buyers to explore the home further and positively influencing their perceptions of the property’s value.
Open houses and private viewings are essential opportunities for potential buyers to experience the space. They can envision themselves living there and assess its true value. When a home isn’t available for these events, its visibility in a competitive market is reduced. Buyers may perceive the inaccessibility as a lack of seller interest or commitment, potentially leading them to question the property’s condition or value.
In a buyer’s market, buyers might prioritize accessible listings.
Falling property prices and reduced buyer interest usually mean a dip in the market. So what happens when the economy dips? Potential buyers become more selective and often expect price reductions or concessions. Homeowners might reduce their asking price or make additional home improvements to stand out. Furthermore, the negative sentiment surrounding the market can make buyers hesitant, fearing further price drops post-purchase. This combination of factors can result in longer listing durations and potential financial compromises for sellers.
We may not be there as I write this article. Mark my words, we’re headed towards a market that won’t afford sellers the luxury of being too choosy. In the near future, sellers will have to pull those contingency offers out of the trash and dust them off.
Weak Property Description
Your property description paints a vivid picture of the home for potential buyers. An effective description highlights the property’s unique features, benefits, and potential, enticing buyers to explore further.
We’ve seen plenty of weak property descriptions. Typically, they lack clear, compelling details. Buyers may overlook the property in favor of others with more appealing or comprehensive descriptions. Furthermore, vital information gaps can lead to missed opportunities with buyers specifically searching for those features. Thus, a well-crafted property description is essential to attracting and engaging the right audience and maximizing selling potential.
Hidden issues such as mold, pests, or structural problems can significantly impede the sale of a home. These issues, when uncovered, raise concerns about the property’s safety, health implications, and overall maintenance. They can deter potential buyers, fearing costly repairs, long-term complications, or reduced home value.
Even if a sale progresses, such problems often become points of negotiation, leading to reduced asking prices or demands for repairs before purchase. Discovering undisclosed issues can erode trust, making buyers skeptical about other unseen problems.
You’re Getting Bad Advice
Receiving bad advice from a real estate agent can severely impact the sale of your home. An inexperienced or misinformed agent might suggest an inflated listing price, making your property less competitive. They may also recommend unnecessary renovations that don’t increase home value proportionally or neglect essential repairs that deter potential buyers. Inadequate marketing strategies, like poor-quality photos or ineffective listing platforms, can limit property exposure.
Bad advice can also relate to negotiation tactics, potentially scaring off genuine buyers. Such missteps prolong the sale process and can result in financial losses for homeowners.
Personalized decor can impact a home’s appeal to potential buyers. When decor is highly tailored to an individual’s tastes, it might overshadow the property’s inherent features and make it challenging for buyers to visualize themselves in the space.
Instead of seeing a blank canvas where they can imprint their own style and memories, they’re blinded by a vivid representation of someone else’s life. We see this all the time with homes we purchase.
Neutralizing decor creates an inviting atmosphere, allowing buyers to focus on the home’s structural and spatial attributes, thereby increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Complicated Sale Terms
Convolutional or overly restrictive terms create confusion or a perception of heightened risk. Buyers typically seek transparency and straightforwardness in a transaction. Complex conditions, such as specific financing requirements, extended escrow periods, or stringent contingencies, can make the buying process seem daunting or unfavorable.
The result is a narrower pool of interested parties, as only those willing to navigate the complexities will engage. Simpler, clear-cut terms are generally more attractive, fostering trust and encouraging a smoother sale process.
Traditionally, spring and early summer are peak real estate seasons, as families often prefer to move between school years. During non-peak periods, such as winter, there are generally fewer active buyers due to factors like unfavorable weather, holidays, and shorter daylight hours.
These conditions can lead to longer listing durations and, occasionally, reduced selling prices. Homes might also lack the aesthetic appeal they possess during greener months. However, the upside is that buyers in non-peak seasons are typically more serious and motivated, which can sometimes counterbalance the challenges.
History of the House
A home with a negative history, like from crime, can significantly deter potential buyers. Such history creates psychological discomfort, as buyers often associate homes with safety, security, and positive memories. The idea of living in a space where an unsettling event occurred can evoke fear or uneasiness, overshadowing the home’s tangible features.
News of such incidents can spread in communities, making the property infamous and less attractive to potential buyers. Even if the house offers great value, the stigma attached can lead to prolonged listing periods, reduced offers, or the need for greater transparency and reassurances during the sale.
Poor Or No Staging
Staging plays a crucial role in presenting a home in its best light. A poorly staged home might appear cluttered, small, or unappealing, making it difficult for potential buyers to visualize its potential or see it as move-in ready. Effective staging emphasizes a home’s strengths and minimizes weaknesses, creating an inviting environment that resonates with buyers.
No staging can draw attention to flaws or make spaces feel impersonal and cold. Without the positive influence of good staging, homes may linger on the market longer, and sellers might need to make price concessions to attract interest.
Buyers need to imagine themselves in the home. How they’ll live, how their children will live, and how they’ll host guests. Anything that impedes that hurts their ability to imagine Staging helps the potential buyers see what the space could be.
Modern buyers often seek open, flexible spaces that facilitate interaction and versatility. Many older homes have compartmentalized rooms, which make spaces feel confined and disrupt the home’s cohesion. Long, dark hallways or rooms without a clear purpose can also be off-putting. Large, separated formal dining or living rooms are becoming less popular as the trend moves towards integrated living spaces. Inefficient placement of bathrooms or kitchens can also be a turn-off.
Homes with awkward or dated layouts might face prolonged sale periods or reduced offers.
High Property Taxes
Elevated taxes increase the overall cost of homeownership, affecting a buyer’s monthly budget and possibly stretching it beyond comfort. For budget-conscious homebuyers, high taxes can significantly impact the return on investment or total homeownership expenses. Additionally, homebuyers may choose neighboring areas with lower taxes if the amenities and home values are equal.
Easements or Restrictions
Easements grant specific rights to third parties, allowing them to use or access a portion of a property. Easements can impact full enjoyment or use by the owner. Potential buyers may view these rights as limitations or intrusions. Concerns arise over privacy, future property development, or aesthetics.
For example, a utility easement might mean unsightly power lines traversing the land, or a right-of-way easement could allow neighbors to pass through the property.
- Right-of-Way Easement (or Access Easement): This allows individuals other than the property owner to travel across the property to access another location. This is common in cases where a property is landlocked and requires access through a neighboring parcel.
- Utility Easement: This gives utility companies the right to use a section of a property, usually to install and maintain utility lines, such as electricity, water, or gas. This often involves above-ground poles or underground lines.
- Conservation Easement: This restricts the type and amount of development that can occur on a property to preserve its natural or historical attributes. Typically, landowners voluntarily enter these easements with conservation organizations, often in return for tax benefits.
Short Listing Duration
Taking a home off the market can raise suspicions among potential buyers about underlying issues with the property. You may draw skepticism from buyers who are interested in making an offer.
Relisting might violate the listing agreement, depending on the terms set with the real estate agent. Sometimes, withdrawing a home can be strategic, allowing for property improvements or awaiting a more favorable market.
However, the “days on the market” (DOM) metric doesn’t always reset automatically; while some MLS systems might show a new DOM, savvy buyers and agents can often track the property’s full listing history.
Your Agent Is Inexperienced
An inexperienced real estate agent isn’t an immediate no-go.
What an inexperienced agent may lack:
- Comprehensive market knowledge, limiting their ability to price a home competitively.
- Established networks, which are crucial for promoting listings and sourcing potential buyers.
- Negotiation skills leading to overpricing your property in a buyers’ market.
- Familiarity with the paperwork process leads to delays or mistakes. Stay on them to ensure inspections, counteroffers, and paperwork are submitted promptly and properly.
As the saying goes, “Everybody has to start somewhere.” And that goes for even the best, most experienced agents.
You need to voice this concern with them ASAP.
Their answer should sound something like this:
“I haven’t closed many/any deals on my own, but I’ve shadowed with XYZ agent. We’ve closed X amount of deals, and I’ve steadily done more and more of the transaction from start to finish.
Furthermore, they likely went through an extensive training program if they worked for a big brokerage.
Here’s how working with an “inexperienced” agent may work in your favor.
- They’ll bend over backward to keep you happy, it being their first commission.
- They’ll have lots of time to work with you and communicate quickly. Communication is the #1 issue people have with real estate agents.
- They’ll likely work with a broker who can step in and help them in tough situations.
Pet And Smoke Presence
The presence of pets can hurt you in two ways. We’ve spoken with many buyers who have extreme allergies to cats and dogs. They’ll leave a showing immediately when they see a pet.
The second way is from the odor.
The concern for a buyer is that they’ll have to do extensive work on a home to remove the odor of pets or smoke. In 99% of cases, they’re correct.
Put yourself in the position of a buyer. Just like you own the home currently. When they buy it, IT’S THEIRS.
They’ll use the odors as leverage to get a lower price if they’re willing to negotiate. Get a quote from a restoration company and ask them what needs to be done to 100% remove the smell. If you’re being honest with yourself, you’re likely used to the smell.
Buyers won’t be.
If you’re a smoker, you’ll have to accept that you likely won’t sell your home for full value.
The way smoke penetrates drywall, the only option for a future homeowner is to gut everything to the studs.
Painting with oil-based paint won’t fix it.
Refinishing the floors won’t fix it.
Washing with bleach won’t fix it.
Nobody wants to buy into this situation unless they get a significant discount.
Lack of Modern Amenities
Depending on your location, missing features like air conditioning can be a deal breaker for many buyers. Would you as much as glance at home without air conditioning if temperatures routinely get above 90 degrees?
Buyers will want a home wired for high-speed internet if you’re in a rural location.
Buyers also don’t want to deal with decades-old mechanicals.
The list goes on and on.
Sellers who seem too desperate might raise suspicions about the property. Being desperate to sell your home isn’t too big an issue until it becomes apparent and/or you start engaging in “shady” behavior.
We’ve said this before in the article, but if you’re desperate to sell your home, sell to a company specializing in fast closings. Once a seller senses any desperation, you give them control of the negotiation.
Lack of Storage
Homes without adequate storage can seem less practical. Many homebuyers are unwilling to purge their belongings to get into their dream home. Homes without a garage or basement. This isn’t a huge issue, but it can limit the number of buyers that come your way.
Outdated Marketing Techniques
Outdated marketing techniques can limit a property’s visibility and appeal in today’s fast-paced real estate market. Relying solely on traditional methods, like print advertising or open houses, without integrating digital platforms can miss a vast online audience. High-quality digital photos, virtual tours, and online listings are now standard expectations for buyers. Ignoring social media or failing to utilize modern listing platforms reduces a home’s exposure to potential buyers, especially younger demographics.
Without an effective online presence and modern marketing tools, properties can become overshadowed by more prominently showcased listings, leading to extended market times and potential price reductions.
Real estate transactions often involve compromises to address concerns, appraisals, inspections, or market dynamics. A rigid stance on price or sale terms can cause potential buyers to either lowball their offers or bypass the property altogether. Especially in competitive markets or when similar properties are available, an unwillingness to negotiate can place a home at a disadvantage. This rigidity can prolong the listing duration, diminish buyer interest, and jeopardize achieving the best possible sale outcome.
Don’t be the homeowner who says, “I KNOW WHAT I’VE GOT” when their home’s been on the market for 120 days.
Ok, we’re ⅔ of the way through this list with a few more. Let’s go rapid-fire for these last ten reasons.
Potential buyers often prioritize a quiet and peaceful environment for living. Persistent noise can be disruptive, affecting sleep, relaxation, and overall quality of life. Sellers can invest in soundproofing measures, such as double-paned windows, insulation, and solid doors, to mitigate this issue. Planting trees or shrubs can also act as natural noise barriers.
Lack of Privacy
A lack of privacy goes hand in hand with living in louder areas. You mitigate these issues the same way you mitigate loud noise.
High Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees
High HOA (Homeowners Association) dues can be a potential dealbreaker for some homebuyers. Nobody really wants to pay extra money on top of their mortgage and property taxes.
Six More Bonus Reasons
- Mismatch with Local Demographics: For example, a large family home in a predominantly single or couple neighborhood.
- Stigmatized Property: Homes where unfortunate events occur can be harder to sell.
- Unfinished Projects: DIY projects that are left incomplete can be unattractive.
- Lack of a Neutral Palette: Bold or unconventional colors might not appeal to the majority.
- Lack of Digital Presence: Not listing on major real estate platforms or having virtual tours.
- Economic Migration: Large-scale movement away from a region due to job scarcity or other factors.
Sell Your House Faster
If your house isn’t selling, know that you have options. A lot has to work in your favor for your house to get the right offer quickly. If that’s not the case, find out why. Ask your real estate agent, look online, and get opinions. You may also need to lower your expectations and consider lower offers.