Let me begin with, the reason your house is not selling may or may not be your fault.

Ok, let’s get to it.  This post will include assistance for Sellers mainly but also some insight for Buyers as well. The reasons are in NO order but should be considered cumulatively and addressed or considered individually.

Before you watch the video and you own your home, take this survey:



Priced Too High, Period

I am sure this is not a surprise coming from a Real Estate agent and you might think that this is an agent’s “easy out” to explain why your house in STILL on the market.  There are a couple ways to look at it.

  • You could have just flat out priced it too high.  Meaning you considered yourself a savy business person and absolutely refuse to “give” your home away.  You expect to NET a certain amount and have a number in mind.  As a rule, I advise my clients.  What I mean by that is as I provide advise and information t assist my client in making the most informed decision in their best interest.  Notice I said ” so that they”.  I understand that I am selling YOUR house. I work for you, at your pleasure (forgive my British phrasing.  I often explain (after showing a Comparative Analysis for their home value):
  • This is the range in which I think your home will sell in a reasonable amount of time based on multiple factors, Ultimately the price you wish to sell for is up to you.  If you tell me that you wish to price it at ten million dollar, I will but we will probably have a discussion later as the market will tell us what is a more reasonable price point

What I mean by that is that ultimately the price you choose is up to you. We do not set your price, you do (after our advisement).  This means you need to trust the advisement you are given.  Trust the Professional.  This is often the major “beef” Real Estate Agents have with their listing clients.  TRUST their expertise.  Sometimes a high price is unavoidable. Perhaps a high mortgage, upside down mortgage, nursing home requirements, other liens, etc.  If this is the case be honest and upfront about it so that your agent can support you in this.

Somewhat related is the idea that you cant really help that you are overpriced because “that is actually what it is worth“.  How can that be you ask? Well, you are the type of person that loves a beautiful home and have ( over the course of living there), enhanced, updated and otherwise “beautified” you home a bit beyond what the comparable houses in the neighborhood can support.  You literally have the BEST HOUSE ON THE BLOCK.  Many may think this but there are actually a few that have done this and now for whatever reason they need to move.  There in lies the problem.  Outspending the area means that there is pretty much NO way to bump it up to where you want it UNLESS you have great fortune in a number of ways.

  1. Someone is willing to pay the price you asked
  2. An appraiser finds the value of your home to be what you think (a lot more rare and complicated than #1).  This is very rare because the nature of an appraisal is to find houses that are comparable to yours at the same or high price to justify (to the mortgage holder) the value of the home is worth that amount.

In closing this out, you will do best having your home as close to the area homes as possible.  Be honest with yourself and your Realtor.  Trust your Realtor’s expertise and allow honest discussions about your feelings and  issues.  Who knows you might need to have the conversation of “maybe now is not the time” and “if not now, when”.

The Condition of the Home in and out

Ok The Condition of the home has SEVERAL different meaning and viewpoints.

  1. Exterior Curb Appeal: It is Winter and of course there are no beautiful flowers and the possibility of dirty snow or other possible issues outside.  The key is to keep your outside clear or any debris (old circulars, mail, trash, leaves, junk cars, broken lawn furniture, etc.)  This is not just helpful for the “drive-by” buyer, but also if your home is vacant, it will help to NOT look vacant to others.  I think you get me on that !!
  2. The House is “Dated”: I don’t mean any disrespect but even if you don’t want to admit it, you know when your house is outdated in its furnishings and more importantly, vital areas (kitchen, bath, etc.).  If this is the case there are not many options except to spend money updating or to price accordingly.  Let me explain how that usually plays out.

You have not updated  (for any number of reasons) but priced your home very close to those in the neighborhood.  In the neighborhood there are a few homes that have those updated features (kitchen, bath, etc.) and are priced “close” to yours (within $5,000-$7,000 and usually a renovation or rehab). Ultimately their house sells even at a higher price, wouldn’t you?  Sometimes it is hard competing with Rehabbers because they bought their home at a CONSIDERABLE DISCOUNT.  You can only do what you can but always keep that in mind.

3.  You house is Cluttered or Messy or considered by most a.. “Fixer-Upper”. Note: Opening blinds and cleaning windows goes a big way to adding light into your home but be warned with more light inside, the more flaws will show up so you may need to address those too. I heard this quote before and it seemed to fit:

Your house isn’t run down but it sure looks like it

Ok, you have a busy life, children, work, etc. and cleaning everything up is too involved, to complicated and too inconvenient.  However, a messy home with things undone and a general sense of disorder gives the impression that the entire house is not in the best shape.  Similar to an unkept exterior.  Putting your best foot forward is very important, especially since you technically have one shot to impress a buyer with both value and style. Do yourself a favor and FIX any small issues like leaking anything, missing baseboards, wall or ceiling holes, dirty or unfinished bathrooms, etc.  Again, any small issue will send most buyers looking ardently for more issues to confirm their view of “the house needing too much work”.  Remember, buyers arrive at a home excited but enter your home skeptical and looking for a discount or to discount your home for another.


**The stairs I just added because they look really cool**


Declutter 1 Declutter 3

Steps and storage Declutter 2

  Overcoming the Lean Times

The Economy is just beginning to recover, mortgage companies are finding alternative ways to earn their dividends other that lending money to home owners, the holiday season has abruptly slowed home searches and everyone is exhaling from the HUGE financial mess we found ourselves in in the most recent past.  This very well could influence whether you home has sold recently.  People STILL buy houses around the winter holidays but just not as much.  I usually tell clients that it shows a definite slow down in mid to late November returning slowly a bit after the Superbowl.

Overcoming the “lean times” means that prices may need to drop or put “On Sale” to attract people with limited resources and a discerning eye.  Also having your agent be creative with advertising, promotion and other things.  This does not mean that advertising and marketing is solely responsible. You have to look at the other previously mentioned factors but ADVERTISING AND MARKETING IS IMPORTANT. DON’T LET YOU AGENT SKIMP HERE.


Reboot, Refresh, Relist

Sometimes the herd mentality can affect your home either positively or negatively.  The negative affect is that…. if you were negatively affected by one of the factors mentioned before, chances are you home has been listed for a while.  Which means the DOM (Days on Market) click has ticked on your home past the “Red” and that some bypass looking at your home just because they “figure” it is something wrong with it because it should have sold by now.   Now they may be correct. Maybe there is an issue that is not being addressed and thus it is still on the market OR it just might seem that way to people who may not even get to see your wonderful home.   Usually after about 100 days, buyers re affected by this phenomena.

Dirk, how do I deal with this?  Well I will give you a hint.  I have relisted two of my listings after a short week off the market during the time when most don’t look anyway (see the Lean Times section).  I shorten my listing agreements to either 120 or 180 days to give a chance to reboot.  I am confident enough to know that my marketing strategies, pricing suggestions, cleaning/ declutter/repair suggestions, my highly competitive commission ability and general neighborhood expertise is unmatched and that I welcome another agent to try to match that combination.

I can list several previous clients that possibly assumed that my expertise or my information and guidance was questioned and they decided to choose another agent after a discussion with me.  All relisted their home at the original price (that was too high through my CMA comparative market analysis, agent and buyer feedback).  Of the four (4) homes, two (2) sold with the other agent (at my initially suggested lower price point, the other two (2) did not at all sell (both were a bit inflexible with price and opted to either keep that price or take it completely off the market).


Bottom line, if all possible listen a communicate with your agent and unless you find them being dishonest, unresponsive or ineffectual, trust their judgment.  Relist with them again especially if you done AL that they requested and it is not moving.


Unique circumstances:       Sometimes, just sometimes there are situations that are a bit of a mixture between many factors and on occasion, ones that are beyond their control.

Example:  A beautifully rehabbed home that was done with great care and with many wonderful features. Beautifully redone hardwoods, kitchen, bath, basement all on a quiet one way block in …… I will leave that out as I hope to sell in immediately.  The owner has always been flexible with price and both my client and I have had valuable communication around the issues.  The issue:  The NEIGHBORS.. I know you have seen this issue.  I won’t go into the specifics of the “dirty renters” next door, but to say that I was told  by two (2) separate buyers that it was all but the prospect of either needing to argue or deal with the neighbor that convinced them to NOT put in an offer.  We considered paying the renter to be cleaner, calling L & I on the owner, even purchasing the property outright.  This went on past the 100 day threshold.  Ironically the neighbor seems cleaner or at least the dog seems gone and we gave it a week break and relisted it with a combination of price adjustments, incentives and additional marketing to take place. With any luck, we will have a contract by February. 



Ok: Now that you have been disappointed and a bit overwhelmed with the process and prospect of selling, It can bee just this easy.  Must watch.




About dirktherealtor

Realtor at Realty Mark - CityScape. I am a tech savy eRealtor with expertise in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, specializing in 1st time home buyers/ sellers and investors. Father of 2 active children, living in the Cheltenham area of Pa. I am active in the community and online.

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