What to Do When a Home Wont Sell


Who wouldn’t be frustrated by a listing with little or no buyer interest after months on the market? Your relationship with your client becomes tense as they grow impatient. And you see your commission evaporating. Worse, you feel your reputation as a professional is on the line.

An excellent way to avoid this dilemma is with an honest assessment of the property. If you see problems that are likely to diminish buyer interest, a frank discussion with the seller at the start is essential. Communicate the challenges and agree on improvements or a pricing technique to overcome them.

Here are some tips to bear in mind.

Never Fake Perfection

Whatever a home’s issues, hiding them is never a good idea. Sellers are typically obligated to disclose known defects, and the Code of Ethics requires that the “true picture” of a home be presented in advertising. So when it comes to cosmetic flaws, don’t Photoshop them out of listing photos. Instead, suggest minor improvements, stage it and then take the picture.

If there’s something disturbing in a home’s history, consider using it as a storytelling element. Ask the sellers what led them to the home, and use that in your marketing.

Get a Second Opinion

It may help to bring in an appraiser to reinforce the home’s price point or a contractor to offer suggestions for improvements. Have the sellers find an appraiser through a lender rather than bringing in your own, so they can be assured of an objective analysis. Explain that since lenders put up the money to buy properties, they won’t loan more than the property is worth.

Another tactic is to invite contractors to an open house. They can give buyers a vision of the improvements that are possible and an estimate for the work. They may be able to convince sellers to tackle the job. If sellers do make improvements or repairs, no matter how small, keep copies of the bills to show buyers what’s been done.

Show them the Competition

Sellers need to see the competition for themselves to better understand how their home stacks up. Tour them to nearby listings, so they can compare features and pricing. Just be sure to let the listing agents know what you’re doing. This can lead to a more meaningful conversation about the need to lower their price.

Be Direct

Sometimes you get to the end of your listing agreement without a sale even after your best efforts. If you feel the sellers won’t take the essential steps to sell, you may decide to diplomatically bow out of renewing the listing. Keep it positive, but be firm, tell them, “you need someone who has new ideas.”

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