Top 8 Reasons Your House Might Not Be Selling (And How to Fix Them)

Has your house been on the market for a long time with no offers? If the housing market in your neighbourhood is stable, and comparable properties are being bought, that could indicate a problem with yours. The good news is, identifying that problem is the first step to increasing the market value of your property.

From my experience in the real estate market, here are the common reasons I’ve identified on why some houses don’t sell.

  1. Asking price

Pricing any home can be tricky. You want to stay on the average price used to value comparables, but you also want to get the best deal possible. There’s always the question of “Am I asking for too much, or too little?”. To answer this question, compare the number of showings you get, to the number of offers placed. If potential buyers are showing a lot of interest in the property but won’t take that final step, it could be that your price is discouraging them.

If your home has been on the market for a long time, and the market has declined since then, you could also have a pricing problem. You should either reduce your asking price to match the market, or pull your house from listings until the market is more stable.

Finally, a big indicator that your asking price is too high, is when all the offers you get are around the same price (which is also less than what you’re asking for). The potential buyers might believe that you’re asking for too much when compared to similar properties in the same neighborhood.

How to Fix This

Work with your agent while fixing a price for your home. First, determine the state of your market, then check out prices of comparable houses listed on the market. With this information, you can set a price that is favorable to both parties.

  1. Location

“Location, Location, location!” A dream home in an unfavorable location is hard to sell, and at the right value too. When choosing a home, buyers understand that their location will impact everything about their lives. Location determines how far they will have to commute to work. It also determines what schools their children will be able to attend. Other social factors also come into play, as you can only make friends and engage in activities that are of close proximity to your home.

Homes on extremely busy streets, with high traffic neighborhoods, or overlooking train tracks are usually less desirable. Selling family homes, for example, in these types of locations often takes more time and persuasion.

If your property is located in a neighborhood with recent security concerns, it could also prevent potential buyers from making an offer. People will almost always choose a small home where they can feel secure and comfortable, over a big home where their lives might be at risk.

How to Fix This

If your property is in an unfavorable location, there’s no other solution than to bring down your asking price. Location is a very important factor, and people will only feel tempted if they can get a good deal on it.

  1. Showing

People want to explore a home before making an offer, so strict showing rules can reduce the interest in your property. It is important that your agent is always available. Their office and phone lines should also stay open for potentials and other agents to book a showing. If potential buyers can’t get into your property when they need to, they could easily move on to the next available option.

Some buyers also feel uncomfortable exploring a home when the current owner is around. They need the freedom to ask questions and make observations without the fear of offending anyone.

If you have pets, especially non-friendly ones, they could also be a problem. If your pet starts barking heavily or tries to attack whenever someone gets close to the house, it could send potential buyers running.

How to Fix This

Ensure that you have a reliable agent who is available and good with correspondence. Allow your showing rules to stay as flexible as possible. If you can, avoid the property (and take the pets with you) whenever there’s a showing.

  1. Staging

Some buyers can look beyond the design of a house and see the structure of its bare bones. Others need to see its layout as a home before they develop an interest. You’ll have both types of people in and out of your home, so you need to prepare for both.

A home with no logical design, clutter, and a ton of old items and furniture might lose the value of appeal. Even if it’s a great house, buyers might devalue it because it doesn’t look ‘out of a magazine’. Visible problems like water stains, peeling wood, overgrown grasses, and so on can also be off-putting for some buyers.

How to Fix This

As much as you can, stage your home to look like it’s ready for move in. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can get professional help. Some sellers use the service of staging companies. These are professionals who stage homes to look appealing to potential buyers. Ask your realtor for recommendations.

  1. Timing

Sometimes, it’s not your property. It’s just bad timing. If a lot of properties are going up for sale around the same time, this could drive down demand and market value.

New changes to government policies can also affect the housing market. Usually, when a new policy is introduced, buyers and investors often prefer to wait and watch. They do this to determine how the changes might affect the market and the best ways to engage. The recent 20% tax on foreign entities (including foreign nationals) on the purchase of residential property being an exceptionally salient one.  There are also certain seasons where the housing market is not as active as usual such as Christmas.

How to Fix This

Unless you’re in a bind and need to sell urgently, the best response to bad timing is to wait. Watch how the market performs and determine the best time to re-enter. If you try to sell in a hurry, you might lose a lot of money. Ask your agent for guidance if you can’t evaluate the housing market by yourself.

  1. Marketing

If the extent of your marketing is a post on realtor.ca, you can expect your property to stay on the market for a while. Selling any home requires a lot of marketing effort. If there’s limited information on the specifics of your home, your adverts may not catch the eye of potential buyers.

Poor pictures and picture quality can also dissuade a buyer. Regardless of how beautiful your home is, there’s something off-putting about bad quality images. Most potential buyers will not waste their time trying to search for more details. Their attention would be caught by similar listings but with better visual content.

Finally, if your agent doesn’t have a good reach in the industry, then they won’t enjoy the benefit of referrals from other agents.

How to Fix This

Provide specific details of your property on all listings. Include descriptions, room measurements, and appealing images. Your agent should be experienced, with a good network within the industry. This way, they can benefit from indirect marketing through other agents.

  1. Your agent

The agent in charge could easily be the problem. An agent with poor correspondence could mean that potential buyers might be trying (and failing) to book a showing. Some agents are extremely busy and don’t have the needed structure to handle all incoming inquiries.

If they don’t provide any feedback after showing sessions, they might not have a real interest in promoting your property. If they’re not trying to provide new strategies to increase the market value of your property, it could mean that they don’t trust your property to sell at a good price. Once you notice a general lack of interest on the part of your agent, that’s a sign that they could be the one factor holding you back from a sale.

How to Fix This

Find a new agent if your current one isn’t invested in your potential sale. Work with someone who keeps you informed, updates you on the market, and negotiates well enough. Most of all, work with an agent who knows how to market their listings to the right audience.

  1. The house itself

If you believe you’ve done everything right and your house just won’t sell, then we have to look at the primary factor; the house itself. It’s possible that potential buyers keep turning away because of something you can’t fix, e.g. a tiny parking lot. If your agent keeps reporting the same complaint from different potential buyers, then the problem is with your house.

How to Fix This

Like location, this problem can’t be changed. The best compromise is to reduce your asking price. Every house is bound to sell with the right price. It just won’t be the right price for (you) the seller.

Conclusion

The most important factor is one that most sellers often don’t consider; personal effort. It’s not enough to get an agent and leave the grunt work to them. These agents have several other listings, possibly more valuable than yours, to close on.

Keep an eye out for comparable sales, monitor the market, and ask questions when needed. Ask for feedback after showings and make the suggested changes when possible. Finally, ensure that you are always top-of-mind for your agent.

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