Why isn’t my house selling

By: Sara E. Teller

Right now, it’s a seller’s market in Michigan.  For sale signs are going up left and right, and they’re being taken down just as quickly as offers continue to roll in.  This means, if a property has been on the market for a while without a sale, there’s something wrong – plain and simple.  It may not be the condition of the home itself, but there is a red flag (or two) causing buyers to consider other options.  If you’re asking yourself, ‘Why isn’t my home selling?,’ here are a few potential reasons.


First, consider the listing price.  This is the number one reason homes sit on the market for too long.  You may have a special connection with your home, it has sentimental value and it’s hard to part with, but it’s super important (if you’re serious about selling) to list at fair market price.  This is something a relator can help you determine.  If you’re basing the price on all of the upgrades added along the way or on the fact that it has been in the family for generations, and this is upping the price tag, chances are you’re going to be there awhile.

As Jim Shaffer and Associates listing agent Drew Mahar explains, “Nine times out of ten, if a home isn’t selling in today’s market, it has to do with its price.  I tell my sellers, buyers may be desperate to find a home right now, but they’re not naïve.  If the home is being marketed the right way, we’re getting two or so showings a day, and it’s still not selling, it’s overpriced.” 

Of course, Mahar said he works for the seller and can only offer his expert advice.  If a seller disagrees with the initial price point, he’ll still list it for the value they’re hoping to get with an agreement that they’ll check back in at a later date if needed.

Mahar said, “I’m here to offer advice, not to dictate what a seller should do.  If my advice is that the seller should list at price ‘x’ and they want to list at ‘y,’ I’m still going to list the property. But 14, 21 days in, if it still hasn’t sold, we’ll need to talk about a reduction.”

Another reason a home isn’t selling could be the location. “If the home is being marketed correctly and is listed at the right price, the location could be an issue,” Mahar said.  It may just be an a not-so-desirable spot, and there’s not much to do but wait.

It could be, too, that the property is “unique” – too unique.  If the home has a quirky feature that isn’t easy to fix, buyers may look the other way.  Maybe it has three stories in an area with mostly ranch-style homes.  Or it’s an octagon shape.  Some buyers will buy into the quirkiness – others, not so much.  Even relatively easy fixes such as paint color or a cobble drive where paved is preferred could make buyers continue to search.  Toning down vibrant hues or upgrading features prior to listing could speed up the process.

Staging is also important.  Buyers want to see large, open rooms and floor plans.  If there is too much clutter, it could deter buyers from looking past the “stuff” and at the space itself.  If furniture is placed in an odd way, this could also add confusion about the functionality of the space.  If you’re unsure whether the staging is welcoming or off-putting, it’s best to check with the listing agent.  But remember, while the agent can offer advice, it is up to the seller to move things around and clear out any unneeded extras.

Of course, it’s important to work with an agent who knows the area well and how to best market the property.  If something as simple as bad photos are limiting interest, a home could stay on the market much longer than it should.  It’s also important, according to Mahar, for sellers to be emotionally invested while having realistic expectations.  He tells his clients, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.  And don’t believe everything you read.  Sometimes buyers are reading about how well the market is doing, and they’re relying on information from friends and family. They get frustrated when their home isn’t selling.  Eventually, if it’s being marketed correctly and it’s price right, it’s going to sell.”