What Factors Can Keep Your House From Selling?

Selling your house can be an intensely emotional experience in any market, but it’s particularly nerve-wracking when it seems like other homes are going under contract in a matter of days while your listing lingers. In that situation, sellers can’t help but wonder if there might be something wrong with their place.

Well, the unfortunate truth is that maybe there is something wrong. Usually, it’s the listing price, but there are a ton of other things that are keeping your house on the market — maybe it’s the marketing strategy, or even the house itself. If your house just won’t seem to move in a market that’s otherwise red-hot, consider whether one of these factors could be stalling a sale.

The pictures are amateur

It’s hard to under-emphasize the importance of listing photos. Most buyers start their home search online, and your listing photos are therefore the first impression that buyers will get of the property.

  • When all the other homes for sale in your neighborhood have crisp, clean images that show the home to its best advantage, and your listing photos are off-center, unfocused and scream “I took all of these pictures in 10 minutes with my cell phone,” then don’t be surprised when buyers aren’t all that interested in your place.
  • Make sure that you’re selecting only the photos that make your house shine, and if there aren’t any, then you might need to reshoot.
  • Talk to your agent and the listing photographer about shooting at a time of day when there’s a lot of natural light and when the home is in pristine condition.

You have too much stuff

Minimalism might not be a big thing where you live, and that’s perfectly fine — while you’re living there. But clutter is going to draw buyers’ eyes away from the space of the room and their ability to fill it with their stuff, distracting them when you want them to be fully focused on their dream of homeownership.

Garage sales, donation stations, and storage units can all be a viable solution for too much stuff, but you need to get it out of the spaces where buyers can see it. That means the closets, too — buyers most definitely will open closets and drawers, and if all the clutter is hiding there, it doesn’t leave a great impression.

The price was based on an online calculator

It’s hard to find a homeowner who hasn’t looked up their own house on a real estate portal like Zillow — we’re all curious, right? Well, even though that Zestimate price may have given you a warm fuzzy feeling, the truth is that it might not be all that accurate. 

Online calculators use public records data and sometimes MLS data to create their estimates, but if the data is patchy or there aren’t a lot of comparable homes that have sold nearby, then the algorithm might end up pulling some numbers that just don’t make any sense.

Of course, this can mean an absolute steal for buyers if your automated valuation is below the home’s actual value, and you could lose money on the sale. But on the flip side, if you trust that your home really is worth what the automated valuation says — and you haven’t asked an appraiser or a real estate agent what they think — then that could be why no buyers are interested.

The wrong agent is listing the home

Like all of us, real estate agents have strengths and weaknesses. Some agents are great at selling condos but haven’t sold any single-family homes, and that’s just one of the many facets that makes up an agent’s experience.

It’s completely understandable to go with the agent who helped you in your last sale, or a friend of a friend, but do ask any agents you interview about their experience in working with clients like you to sell houses like yours. If they don’t have any, then you might be in for a long wait and several price cuts before your house moves.

Showings aren’t convenient for buyers

One of the worst parts of selling a home is dealing with the showing process. It’s a pain to keep your house spotless in case a showing gets booked, and then vacate the premises while strangers traipse through with an agent.

  • Although sellers definitely deserve sympathy for how demanding showings can be, they’re not exactly a picnic for buyers, either, who are usually trying to visit several houses in the few-hour timespan they’ve managed to clear out, typically on evenings and weekends when they don’t have to work.
  • If you aren’t letting buyers come in and walk through on those evenings and weekends, and instead are dictating showing times that only fit your schedule, don’t expect buyers to fit your home into theirs. If it’s inconvenient, many qualified buyers who’d love your house will prefer to skip it.

The listing description is flat or unrealistic

Most buyers are going to look at the photos first and foremost, but many will also pay attention to the listing description. This is a chance to tell interested buyers what you love about the house, and they’re going to be looking for information or nuance that they couldn’t glean from the photos.

For example, maybe the view from the master bathtub is your favorite in the house, or perhaps there’s a greenhouse in the yard.

Include details in the listing description that help the buyer round out what they know about the house from photos — and steer away from generic descriptions if possible. Buyers see a lot of them, and they won’t help your home stand out.

You’re too attached

Sometimes it’s the right time to sell a house — and sometimes it doesn’t matter how hot the market is: You’re just not ready to let go yet. That’s a very normal feeling to have, but it can also sabotage your home sale for obvious reasons.

Consider whether your attachment to the home could be undermining you in other ways, like insisting that it’s worth a certain price or demanding specific concessions from your buyers.

If you think it might be, then you have to decide whether your need to sell the house outweighs your desire to stay there, and act accordingly.