What makes a house hard to sell? Whether you’re selling your primary residence, listing a relative’s old home, or cashing out an investment property, you may find that qualities in your property make it difficult to offload. As a result, your home may languish even in a seller’s market, waiting for offers that never seem to come.
What are the most common factors that can make a house hard to sell? And if you face this kind of difficulty, what steps can you take to overcome the challenge? This article will provide you with an overview of the things that could be holding you back and tips on what actions can move forward toward a successful closing.
Start at the correct price, and you’ll get multiple bids… typically up to the price you were looking for.
- Alex Adabashi
Real Estate Agent
Real Estate Agent at Huntington & Ellis
Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience
- Average Price Point
- Single Family Homes
1. You’ve priced too high
“Even being in one of the hottest markets we have ever seen, some homes aren’t selling,” he warns. “Some homeowners like to overprice the home to leave room for negotiation, [but] that is the number one issue we’re seeing with homes not selling — even in this crazy hot market.”
The solution: Lean on your Realtor®’s expertise and work together to price your home appropriately. If you do so, you’ll net the goal price you had in mind all along. “Pricing the home to sell will actually get them the price they want,” Adabashi assures. “Start at the correct price, and you’ll get multiple bids… typically up to the price you were looking for.”
What’s more? You’ll close the deal more quickly and avoid the costs of carrying the property for longer than you’d like.
2. Your curb appeal is lacking
Fear not: in the scheme of seller struggles, lackluster curb appeal is a reasonably easy — and often inexpensive — fix.
“First impressions are so important,” stresses Adabashi. “Freshening up the front entrance, making sure there are no weeds in the yard, [having] a nice big, beautiful doormat, and making sure the front door is painted a popular color that pops” are good starting points that ensure your property looks cared for and ready to sell.
The solution: Maintaining the yard, adding a few hearty plants to the flower beds, and giving your front door a fresh coat of paint are some fast, inexpensive DIY options for giving your home the “wow factor” for passers-by who may take interest.
Be sure to invest in the fixes that will provide a return on your investment: while $6,000 for a new driveway might make the place look sharp, you’re unlikely to recoup the cost in your selling price. Depending on what budget you have available for cosmetic fixes, your Realtor® can provide an expert opinion on how to spend wisely here.
3. Privacy or location is an issue
Location can be both a blessing and a curse. Being five minutes from the closest gym, shopping center, or office building can be a huge selling point, but it may come with the compromise of being located on a busy thoroughfare. Issues like noise pollution, messy neighbors, or a lack of property privacy won’t just magically disappear — and while you may have grown used to nuisances like these as a longtime resident, prospective buyers are likely to notice.
The solution: Recognizing these pitfalls is the first step to addressing them. Ask a friend or family member who doesn’t come by much to walk through the property and give their frank assessment. (Your sunny kitchen window overlooking a corner lot might also face a congested intersection at close proximity — yikes.)
Your listing agent comes equipped with the experience and creative toolkit to address these concerns. Does your patio overlook your neighbor’s backyard? Are nearby power lines messing with your view? Deterrents on your property are likely obstacles your agent has seen before.
“We still get them sold,” Adabashi says of houses with these hard-to-sell features. “There are tricks of the trade to help our clients.” There’s a reason you purchased the home once upon a time, and your Realtor® can help the next buyer to fall in love just as you once did.
4. Your emotions may be getting in the way
Beware the sentimentality that may crop up and hold you back. While your pantry door may be a time capsule of children’s growth spurts, your fond memories are an unwelcome distraction for prospective buyers. (Sorry, not sorry!) It’s time for a fresh coat of paint.
Your favorite couch may be a welcome respite after a long day at work. Still, an oversized leather sofa may simply be an eyesore during showings, especially if buyers are looking for a roomy, light, and airy space. Likewise, the toddler swing hanging from your oak tree out back may bring warm fuzzies to you and your partner but could turn off buyers who don’t share your life stage or lifestyle.
In reality, the things that make your home comfortable and lovable may be the very features that make it difficult to sell. So be prepared to compromise your tastes, if only temporarily, to close the transaction.
The solution: Making your home a blank canvas will give it the best chance of selling quickly. Make “The Three Ds” your mantra, and get to work deep cleaning, decluttering, and depersonalizing the space. Take photos for your memory book if you must, but being able to set your home up for its next family is crucial to the selling process. Clean your home, consider professional staging, and let go of the past to make room for what comes next!
5. The place isn’t looking its best
As we’ve already mentioned, sprucing up curb appeal, tackling a deep interior clean, and staging your space can all help make a hard-to-sell home more desirable to buyers. In addition, if you find you aren’t lining up as many showings as you’d like to, take a good hard look at the photography in your listing.
“Your number one show is online,” says Adabashi, and this is the absolute truth: professional real estate photography is necessary.
Your home doesn’t have to look uninhabited, nor is Hollywood studio lighting in order. But cell phone photos of dim rooms with half-open blinds are likely to hurt the home’s listing, even if the competition in your area isn’t much to speak of.
The solution: Work with your Realtor® to invest in a professional photography package that includes indoor and outdoor areas. So much of your buyer traffic will be virtual: photos that let your home shine will drive initial interest and garner more clicks (which will translate to more showings and, ultimately, a sale).
6. Your agent isn’t cutting it
Though plenty of factors can make a house hard to sell, there’s also a chance there’s nothing wrong with the property itself. Be sure you are working with a real estate agent whose priority is to secure a sale quickly and at a competitive price.
Is it time to cut ties and find a new partner for your home sale? Keep an eye out for red flags that may signal your agent could be the problem with the sale.
- An unresponsive agent or team who is slow to return calls, texts, or emails
- An agent whose real estate business is their “side hustle,” — the sale of your home should be their main job and a primary professional concern
- Lackluster marketing: your photography and listing verbal description fail to make the strengths of your property shine
- Slow traffic: a lack of social media engagement, absence of a robust online listing, few open house events
- Inexperience — you want a go-getter who is not only familiar with the market but also someone who knows how to move inventory in your area
The solution: If you notice any warning signs or sense it’s time to try a new direction, try our Agent Match Tool to connect with top agents in your area. This service is completely free to use — no catches, we promise! — and can help you find the right professional to help you close the deal.
7. ‘Tis (not) the season
Lastly, listing your home at the right time of year can differentiate between a fast sale or a long listing time. While you have little control over buyer traffic during the slow months, be mindful of when you place your home on the market.
January is a notoriously tricky time to sell, perhaps due to a post-holiday doldrum or conflicts with busy school and work calendars. But, conversely, warmer months see an uptick in shopper traffic — and it can’t hurt if your pool is freshly open or your hydrangeas are in full bloom.
The solution: Don’t be discouraged if the winter months make your house seem particularly hard to sell. Discuss market trends in your area with your Realtor® to determine the best time of year to list. You can even explore our Best Time to Sell Calculator to line your sale up for success and identify the best possible month to list in your local market.
Plenty of things can make a house difficult to sell. Keep the following tips in mind to clear the path to close:
- Don’t loiter. We know you’re proud of your place, but ultimately, you should leave the selling up to your support team. Let the home speak for itself. Take this as your cue to sip an iced tea on a patio across town and take a mini-vacation from the stress of selling.
- There is such a thing as too much personalization. The chartreuse accent wall in your office may spark joy for you, but it may horrify prospective home buyers. Tone back any elements that may detract from your home’s best features. Remember, it’s not personal! This is simply about making the space a blank canvas for the next person.
- Remember that buyers with mobility limitations may need different living configurations than what has worked for your family. Consider staging that ground-level bonus room as a first-floor bedroom to underscore accessibility. Repurpose spaces to demonstrate the flexibility of the house’s layout.
Be a solution-oriented seller
Every home has pros and cons. Even if your property has proven difficult to sell, there are likely efforts you can make to downplay any negatives and illuminate your house’s strengths. Your listing agent and their team have likely overcome similar challenging circumstances at some point in their career; rely on their experience to persevere.
A lengthy listing time can be discouraging, but with a motivated Realtor® and an intelligent strategy, you can work to play up your property’s strengths and close the sale together.
Header Image Source: (Roger Starnes Sr / Unsplash)