The Top Things That Will Make It Really Hard For Your Agent to Sell Your House

Real Estate Agent with Redfin AB95346

Why do some houses sit around for ages while their neighbors fly off the shelf? 

The sellers often think their home lingers because it's something their agent is doing or not doing.  And sometimes they are right.  But more often than not, unsuccessful sellers have a terrific agent whose advice they totally ignore. 

  • They don't prepare the house for the market.  They argue that buyers will be able to use their imagination.  Buyers either won't notice the bathtub scum, the moldy leftovers in the fridge, or the clutter.  They'll see the potential.  Buyers have no imagination and they don't get potential unless they are potential renovators looking for a bargain. 
  • They smoke in their house.  If your house smells like an all night poker game, even buyers who smoke will probably pass on it.
  • They are annoyingly inflexible about letting in agents and buyers.  What?  You want to show my house in a half hour?  Sorry, but I'm covering my gray.  Go away!  If I can't show it, I can't sell it.  Sorry.  If you're a pill about showings, you are sending the buyer's agent a message that you'll probably be a pill throughout the transaction!  
  • When they do let people in, they "help" the buyers' agents do their jobs, following them around like they might steal the family silver.   They point out all of the home's features that the agent might otherwise miss. Even though the buyer broker may never have been in the house in her life, she doesn't need your help.  Really!
  • They tape little signs to the walls to point out all of the extra features they lovingly added to the house.  Most of them are totally obvious things and they sort of annoy the showing agents.  Many of the features they point out aren't even plusses to many of the buyers looking at the house.
  • The sellers stage their house with potpourri, scented candles, and those little "plug ins".  Buyers hate those things - the only smell is no smell at all
  • Their adorable doggy enthusiastically greets buyers with a wag of the tail and a sniff to your, well, you know.  Even if he's not a Realtor-eating dog, he needs to be gone.  Now, I love dogs (one in particular), but they no matter how cute and friendly the dog, he needs to be out of the house or somehow confined when the house is being shown.  
  • They price the house way above market, explaining to their agent, "Hey!  It just takes one!"  Actually, it doesn't work that way.  While price isn't the only factor, it's probably the most important one.

In real estate school, they explain that there are 4 basic elements in a marketing plan:  condition, access, price and marketing.  The seller controls everything but the marketing, and even the most ambitious market plan won't work without the other three puzzle pieces fitting into place.

And yes, even in a sellers' market, it's completely possible for your house to sit unsold. 


If you are planning a move to or from the Washington area, I can help.  I am licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia.   Please email me at or call 202-549-5167. 

Search all listings in the DC Metro area.


Re-Blogged 10 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Teresa Lansford, MBA, GRI, MRP,SFR,ASN 04/16/2013 11:21 PM
  2. Roy Kelley 04/17/2013 12:45 AM
  3. Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging 04/17/2013 03:56 AM
  4. Cheryl Ritchie 04/17/2013 12:27 PM
  5. Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team 04/17/2013 11:41 PM
  6. Julie Brown 04/18/2013 01:19 AM
  7. Nina Hollander 04/18/2013 01:35 AM
  8. Phil Parisi 04/18/2013 04:16 AM
  9. Gabe Sanders 04/28/2013 08:45 PM
  10. Anna Hatridge 12/03/2015 05:23 PM
Home Selling
why houses dont sell

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Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Patricia, great post and great list.  We will turn them into some positives and send out to our just listed.

Apr 18, 2013 01:04 AM #55
Julie Brown
Steffes Group, Inc. - Mount Pleasant, IA
Broker-Associate, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

Great post!  Well worth a Re-Blog so others can see it.  Often it is easy for the seller to blame "us" while they in turn are not being flexible.

Apr 18, 2013 01:18 AM #56
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Great blog! I am going to reblog it... maybe a few Charlotte area sellers will get the "hint!"

Apr 18, 2013 01:33 AM #57
Susan Kirk
Refreshing Innovations - Silver Spring, MD
Home Staging in MD, VA, DC, ASP

Pat,  Great points in your post.  Homeowners don't realize that their property is now a marketable sales item and not their personal home.  Met a woman yesterday at a networking meeting and her townhouse has sat for 2 months on the market.  She gave me a link to give my impression of her pics.  She had a double strike the moment the buyer stepped in the door...very tall stairs (can't do anything about that) and then the room to the left was mint green with an alphabet border. She described it as a playroom but it was filled with a couch, coffee table desk and recliner.  CONFUSING!  I encouraged her to paint and choose a purpose for the room.  She I really have to paint?  To top it off she was blaming the Realtor for it sitting as you said above.

Apr 18, 2013 01:33 AM #58
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Pat- these are all excellent points.  A pet peeve of mine are what you said about the plug-ins, candles, etc.  Buyers are onto this.  Some will be allergic to it, some will have to walk outside because it's too much, and some might wonder what you're trying to cover up. 

Apr 18, 2013 01:45 AM #59
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Patricia,

Excellent points. These are all good ways to leave money on the table, which is only a problem, if you would like to net more for your home. It does not take that much for most people to show off their home well and prepare themselves for the move in the process.

Apr 18, 2013 01:48 AM #60
Jynnette Lewis
Rodeo Realty Inc. - Los Angeles, CA

Great thank you for this!

Apr 18, 2013 02:15 AM #61
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


An excellent read. I see homes being sabotaged all the time by the owners. They may not realize that what they are doing, or not doing, is causing buyers and agents to lose interest, or not even bother coming to see the home at all. Not listening to the advice of a knowledgeable agent who knows what is going on in this market can be the kiss of death...and no sale.


Apr 18, 2013 02:56 AM #62
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

All good stuff, yet most sellers refuse to heed the advice of their Realtor and worst yet, most Realtors will allow the sellers to dictate the terms and conditions just to get a listing.

Apr 18, 2013 04:06 AM #63
Gary Burleson
Beach Water Realty - - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach Homes, Condos, Foreclosures, Investment Propery

Bravo on the post. Unfortunately,I'm sure we have all had clients that make these same mistakes. All of these "recommendations" don't apply to them for some reason. 

Apr 18, 2013 04:41 AM #64
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Just takes one - UGH!  Possibly my least favorite words to hear from a sellers mouth.

Apr 18, 2013 06:44 AM #65
Bryan Tobiason
Keller Williams Partners, Inc. - Gardner, KS

OMG!  The little notes drive me INSANE!  I've seen agents do that more than sellers, but it happens by both parties.  One agent had "Stone Fireplace" posted on the Stone Fireplace and "Granite Counter Tops" posted on the Granite Counters.  

I saw a seller who put notes on EVERY ITEM in the house with a price.  No exaggeration, EVERY ITEM.  They wanted $650 for the couch they paid $1,000 for 15 years ago and had the original receipt.  It was crazy!   Now you got me going again!  :)

Apr 18, 2013 06:46 AM #66
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Hi Patricia, just came over from Maureen's and your blog says it all.  I love the one about the seller being a pill about showings - there are so many sellers that make it difficult for an Agent to show the house and then wonder why there is no offer-DUH!!!!

Apr 19, 2013 01:59 AM #67
Brian Dodds
Coldwell Banker Willis Smith - Oriental, NC - Grantsboro, NC
Sale or Sail? We do both!

Nailed it!

Apr 20, 2013 02:45 AM #68
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Great post.  Not showing the house is a really frustrating one.  YOu know make an appoint 24 hours in advance.  Seller will be home, no lock box.

Apr 26, 2013 07:13 AM #69
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Patricia - All excellent points... thanks.  I do have one question however.  What real estate school did you attend where they taught you a marketing plan?  Most schools only teach you how to pass the state licensing exam!  LOL

Apr 29, 2013 12:49 AM #70
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This is good advice. I tell this to all my Sellers, usually with modest acceptance. My last listing did everything I asked and it sold in 3 days.

May 17, 2013 02:03 PM #71
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Patricia Kennedy this should be in every sellers package, a great share thanks....

Dec 03, 2015 10:13 PM #73
Patricia Kennedy
Redfin - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

David, thanks!  Wow - this is one of my oldies!

Dec 03, 2015 10:30 PM #74
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi, Patricia.  
I this as a reblog on Anna Hatridge 's blog.  Great stuff!

Dec 05, 2015 05:34 AM #75
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Patricia Kennedy

Home in the Capital
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