8 Reasons why your house won't sell!

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

Karl Hess was good enough to remind me that it's been more than a year since I published my perennial favourite blog.  So I'm republishing, and updating it now... and thus far, each year I've been able to add a reason.

Back in August of 2009, I published a post called 6 Reasons why your house won't sell.  It garnered an unbelievable (at least unbelievable for ME) 192 comments, after being viewed 8667 times, and having 7,934 people "click" on it.  That means that 2.4% of the people who viewed the post, were moved enough to leave a comment behind.

The average, at least for me, has been less than half of that return... more like sightly under 1%.  It was also "reblogged" by an astonishing 47 Rainers to share with their readers.

Soon after posting, a local Chicago Realtor publication contacted me, having found the article on Active Rain, and asked if they could publish the article, with my byline, of course.  As you might imagine, I said "yes", and picked-up 438 copies of that issue (my mother loved them). 

The last iteration "7 Reasons why your house won't sell", had over 60 reblogs and 258 comments... (with over 11,000 clicks +68 short URL clicks, and over 12,000 actual VIEWS!) which was in-freakin'-credible...WOW so I thought there might be a fresh generation of Rainers who hadn't yet seen it... so here is my newest iteration.  As you can see, now we're up to EIGHT reasons.


8 Reasons why your property won't sell.

1. Your property won't sell because your photos are "less than impressive". Yep, this is an actual photo from our MLS, just came on brand-new this morning.  Apparently the place must be really awful, 'cause the agent didn't even dare step out of her car, to get close to the property so you could see any details.

The vast majority of home buyers begin their search for a home on the internet, so your property had better look fantastic in print. Not just nice, it has to look downright fabulous.  Today an internet view is the same as a 'virtual showing'... if your house gets past that, then they might (just might) make an appointment to see it in person... You should really consider that your SECOND showing. Today's online viewers are expecting good quality photos (and lots of them...the picture below... taken from Google Maps... is completely unacceptable.  That's a $500,000 listing, take a moment and your digital camera and force your agent to go earn their commission), a virtual tour, maybe even a floor plan, and they need to be high-quality, or don't bother.

2. Your property won't sell because it's overpriced. It's important to be as objective as you possibly can.  Look at the home as though you were a "buyer"... if necessary, make an appointment with your Realtor to view other properties that are priced comparably to yours.  Be brutally objective.  Given the other options on the market (and yes, you DO have to include short sales and foreclosures on your list... your potential buyers are!), would YOU buy your home, over the others that are currently available on the market?

If the answer is "NO", (and try to be as honest as you can) well then you have your work cut out for you, don't you?  You either have to "update" your home to meet or beat the competition...(that might mean an updated bathroom or kitchen, or neutralizing some decorating... remove that old wallpaper that was there when you bought the house or lower your price to adjust for it.  if you can't afford to sell it for the price, that you KNOW it should sell for, this may not be the right market for you to sell.  Consider taking it off-market.

3. Your property won't sell because it shows badly. This could mean almost anything... from the 60 pound Rottweiler, barking and drooling at the potential buyers from behind the safety of the flimsiest child-gate, to the lingering smell of 30-years of smoking.  Maybe the carpeting shows traffic-pattern wear, or your nicotine covered windows allow in slightly less than daylight.  All things that aren't visible from the internet, but whoa.... once you get inside the house... they show up, like a cat-urine-soaked-shag carpet on a 95 degree day in New Orleans!

4. Your property won't sell because you're invisible. Today's buyer comes from the internet, almost exclusively.  Have you (or your agent) simply plopped the property on the MLS, and started praying?  Are you on all the websites...(Trulia, Zillow, Craig's List, Google Base, etc...) all the places that buyers are searching?  If not, you need to be, now! Don't try to be a secret, in today's electronic world.  You want to be found, and the sooner the better.

If you're not making full use of the internet today, you're out of business before you've started.  C'mon people... get on board, the train is leaving the station. (I love a good train metaphor).

5. Your property won't sell because your listing is tired and stale on the market. Okay... yes, you overpriced your home initially when you first came on the market a year and a half ago.  But since then you have reduced your price almost monthly, constantly chasing the market down. Now, finally you're truly priced where you believe should be, but your listing (not your house) has become tired and stale.  Everyone who is looking for your type of property (ie: 3br/1.1 bath) in your area has already seen the listing online, or in person and they remember that there was "something" about it that they didn't like... but what they don't remember is... what they didn't like.... was the price.   Time to take the listing off market.  Let it cool off (3-6 months), and bring it back on fresh in the Spring.  Yeah, you'll have 6 mos. worth of holding-costs... but you'll more than make up for it in your purchase price.

btw... Resist the temptation to bring the house back on at a higher price, than when you left the market.  Just "don't do it"!

6. Your property won't sell because your house won't appraise. The house looks great... you've finally gotten someone to bring you a bid on your slightly over-priced, but beautiful pied-a-terre.  But the bank appraiser says it's worth $20,000 less than your buyer has agreed to pay.  Heavy sigh... bite the bullet.... negotiate with them.   If you have to drop the price $20,000 to make it work.... "make it work"... chances are, anybody else trying to buy your house will run into the same problem. If you're not willing to negotiate the difference, you may find yourself with no buyer, and accepting a lower offer somewhere down the line.  Appraisals carry a great deal of weight these days.

7. Your property won't sell because it's unavailable to show. You have a baby, and a 1-year old.  And they need their naps.  So you've told your Realtor in no-uncertain-terms, that you'll only allow showings between 9:00a.m - Noon, and then again from 2:30-5:30 p.m.  And no showings on Saturday or Sundays.  "After all", you've told him "we still live here.. it's our home!".  Well guess what?  They can't buy it, if they can't see it.  As good as your online photos are, they're no substitute for an in-person visit. "If they really want to see it, they'll reschedule", you're already answering as you read this.  Nonsense!  What they'll do, is they'll just move on to the next property in line (there are dozens like yours available) and maybe they'll buy that one instead.  Once you put your property on the market it stops being your "home", and has become your "product".  And you want your product to be seen by as large a buying audience as possible.

8. Your property won't sell because you have the heat and power turned off. Okay... maybe it's an REO, or maybe you're no longer living in the home.  But viewers need to be able to feel comfortable when they've viewing your home.  You want them to spend time in the home and get a sense of the place.  You don't want them standing in the darkened foyer shivering, breathing on their hands to keep their knuckles from freezing in position.  If they can see their own breath, the house is too cold.  It's just not an invitation to spend time in the home.  Have the power on, and leave the heat running, at least high enough to keep viewers from shivering.  It doesn't have to feel like a tropical paradise, but it shouldn't feel like the north pole, either.  Ain't nobody gonna buy that igloo.

- 2.5

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email: Almay@aol.com

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois


Comments (153)

Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Wayne - you're very welcome.

Jan 11, 2012 09:01 AM
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

What a great post.  I really enjoyed reading your list!  I can think of clients that fit into each of those categories.  I think all seller's should read this before listing their home!  Thanks!!

Jan 12, 2012 04:23 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Joy - unfortunately.... we all have clients that fit these categories.

Jan 12, 2012 04:27 AM
Susan Rupert
Kissinger Bigatel & Brower REALTORS - State College, PA

Alan-thank you so much for reposting. A lot of the times it is the price. I agree we should give this to all our sellers prior to listing their homes. Keep the posts coming. 

Jan 16, 2012 03:40 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Susan - I'll do that... (like I could stop them if I tried).

Jan 17, 2012 12:25 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Anonymous comment #141 - thank you... seller motivation is very important.

Jan 18, 2012 10:08 AM
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

I love this and the fact that a post can be reposted months...years later!

Jan 24, 2012 01:19 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

andrina jess - spam, spammy, spamster... buh bye.

Russell - I sure don't mind that either.

Jan 24, 2012 01:47 AM
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

I am thinking of working on my laptop for a few hours a month, instead of my desktop for hundreds of hours a month. Seems like the pay is good. :)

Jan 24, 2012 02:06 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Robin - I'm sitting with my laptop right now... and not being paid a dime.

Jan 24, 2012 02:07 AM
Andrea Pena
Amcap Mortgage, Ltd. - Spring, TX

I agree with the virtual tours!  Our company provides our agents with a single property website, and the buyers LOVE IT!! (as well as the sellers) 

Keeping the house clean is DEFINITELY a must!  We tell our sellers to view their home the way a buyer would view it!  It's the little things that make a HUGE difference!

Jun 14, 2012 07:14 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Amcap - we, also, use the single-property website.

Jun 14, 2012 07:49 AM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This is great information. I'm thinking that #2 should be in the #1 spot. :>)

Oct 20, 2012 01:16 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Wayne - no question that 2 is important... these aren't in any particular order.

Oct 20, 2012 11:32 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is an excellent post.. I was looking for this post and here it is!  I want to share these points with a couple of selelrs.

Dec 28, 2012 10:34 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

Joan - I'm glad you found it.

Jan 03, 2013 03:33 AM
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Alan, this is a great reminder, thanks .... something to share in the office.

Feb 24, 2013 10:20 PM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

A really big help and such good information thanks as always Alan

Feb 24, 2013 10:34 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

David - you're very welcome.

Charles - and you're welcome, too.

Feb 24, 2013 11:18 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Great stuff, Alan. We have all seen one of more listings that suffer for the ills that you pointed to in this post. It is our job to help our clients overcome these shortcomings and remedy the woes. But...we need the buy-in of the owners to make everyone successful.

Mar 31, 2021 10:04 AM