Why Has My House Not Sold?

Large House with double garage Canada

“WHY HAS MY HOUSE NOT SOLD”?  In all honesty, this is a question that a Realtor never wants to hear. It is, quite possibly, the first sign that things are not going as smoothly as you would have hoped for. I can tell you, from personal experience, when I list a home for sale I do so with a clear marketing strategy in place. I know where and when I’m going to advertise, hold open houses and I know at what stage we may have to adjust things. Invariable things may not always go to plan, but by discussing and agreeing your entire strategy at the beginning of the process you are establishing an understanding with your clients.

Any home may take longer than “average” to sell or in many instances; any given home owner may change the entire plan with a moments notice. You have to be willing to adapt your strategy or expectations. Here is my list of what I consider, to be the six most common (in no particular order, yet all equally important) reasons that your home won’t sell.


Pricing a home can be tricky but it is one of the most common reasons that a home has not sold. Some indicators that your home is over priced include:

  1. You are the most expensive listing in the neighbourhood
  2. Very few showings, very little open house traffic
  3. Lots of showings with no offers
  4. You picked the Realtor who told you what you wanted to hear i.e the highest price…..
  5. Feedback from other Realtor’s mentions pricing

You need to try and rely on the professionals. Just because you think your home is worth a million dollars doesn’t make it true, sorry!

Agent, Exposure & Marketing:

This can be a sensitive topic. Almost everybody is related to, works with or is friends with the wife/husband of a Realtor. This makes it very easy to go with the comfortable option of hiring (yes you are hiring them, they work for you) the person you know. It is an understandable choice, but is it the best one?

I urge you to try and put sentiment aside and hire the best person for the job. That person should be able to present you with a clear and concise plan. They will show you where they will spend their advertising dollars, not make vague suggestions about where your home MAY be advertised. The Realtor that is going to sell your home will be honest, professional and efficient. If things aren’t working they will tell you why and provide you with the evidence.

Now that does not mean you shouldn’t hire someone who hasn’t been in the business for 20 years, it means hire the person you are comfortable with and who has (in your opinion) a feasible and realistic plan to sell your home.

Aside from establishing a price and discussing the supporting documentation to justify that dollar value here are:

Ten Other Questions You Should Consider Before Hiring A Realtor:

  • Do you work as a Realtor full time or part time?
  • How long have you been a Realtor?
  • Can you supply references?
  • Can you provide me with a marketing plan? How will my property stand out from the crowd?
  • Do you use Internet marketing? Can I see samples?
  • What are the current local market conditions including average list times, buying trends, local job market and other community specific factors that would affect the salability of my home?
  • How will you help me preparing my home for showing in order to make the best first impression on buyers?
  • If I’m not pleased with your services can I cancel the listing without any problems or cost?
  • If I am also buying a home, will you charge me less to sell?
  • What will you offer a co-operating Realtor as compensation and will you charge me less if no other Realtor is involved?
  • Have you ever been sued or charged with an ethics violation?

We have all heard it said a hundred times “Location, Location, Location”. The reality of your situation may be that your home is in a less than desirable area (in some peoples’ opinion). This does not mean that your home won’t sell; it does however mean that you are going to have to have some patience. Try and highlight as many selling points as possible and make sure you are as competitive as possible with your pricing.

Personal Motivation:

Do you really want to move? Do you find yourself turning down appointments to view the property? Are you not really interested in finding a new place? Maybe deep down you actually don’t want to move? Make sure your entire family is on the same page and make sure you are motivated to sell the property.

Condition of the Home:

In a previous post I wrote about the return you can receive from some DIY projects around the house. If you are getting ready to sell, try and get your home evaluated at least a month before you hit the open market. This will allow you to gather some feedback about some possible upkeep and maintenance issues. The condition of the home is critical. You can only make a first impression once. Make it a good one!

You are trying to do it yourself:

Hire a professional. You can negotiate commission; you get professional marketing, market analysis and advice. Perhaps the biggest advantage……. Realtor’s have the time.

Theses are just some of my thoughts, what do I base it on? I based it on my observations on common problems that I have run into during my time in the business. I also spoke to some of the other Realtor’s in my office just to get an idea of what they have experienced. I hope this helps if you are thinking of selling or you are in the process of selling your house and want it sold!

Stewart Blair Realtor photo

Guest Post By: Stewart Blair is a Sales Representative for Royal LePage TriLand Realty. You can also find Stewart on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. A great way to come to a FMV for your house is to look at comparable properties in the same or a similar neighborhood: meaning comparable square footage, condition, etc… add in unique features, and you should have a ball park estimate. Good advice in this article, for sure.

  2. I like your questions, but I’m more interested in what the answers should be. What should I expect a realtor to respond when I ask how long they’ve been around. Is 10 years right? 5?

  3. I am dreading when it comes time for us to sell, whenever that may be. Hopefully the market here is better by then for the price range we’re in. One thing for sure– we are going to cut out a lot of the stuff in our house and show it properly. And clean!

  4. gregjohnson975182420 says:

    I think a lot of homes have problems selling because they aren’t properly cleaned. I have been in many with cobwebs and kitchen cabinets with food on them. It’s hard to look at houses like that seriously.

  5. These are things that my wife and I are going through. We will be listing our home this year and I am starting the process.

  6. I remember when we searched for our house I was shocked at how many people didn’t clean up. I’m not talking a deep cleaning. People had clothes on the laundry room floor, toys in the middle of the living room ect… We didn’t choose any of these houses because it was hard to look behind other people’s stuff.

  7. Christine Weadick says:

    Years ago we sold a house in town to move to the country, the agent we had wasn’t the greatest. We told him what we wanted and that was fine. We had a conditional offer in on a new build, a couple of days before that was to expire he shows the house and comes in with an offer a few thousand below what we were asking. We said no to that and he said that if we didn’t take the offer we would lose the new build, we said that’s fine…..surprised him… guess he thought we would jump at it to get the new build….. nice try Sport, no sale. We did sell the house a couple of weeks later and bought an older house in the country we loved and we got what we wanted. A number of years later we had to sell the lovely place in the country and, needless to say used a different agent. This guy was great, talked to us about the price, we went with his advice and sold it, again, for pretty much what we wanted. Both agents are still in business here in town. The second agent is the one we would use again, I still see him as I pick up mail at the post office and he still stops for a ‘Hi, How are you doing???’ Plus I swear after some of the crap we went through selling houses I’m moving out before it goes on the market. Yes I know I’d be paying for 2 places at once…. to me it’s worth it to not go through the hassle of living in a house on the market….

  8. My uncle wanted to put his last house on the market and had a price in mind that he wanted to get. His best friend is a Realtor and was to list it for him. When he told her what he wanted the listing price to be she told him he was nuts and would never get it. So they put a bet on it. He would try and privately sell his home for a month, if unsuccessful he would use to professional skills. He sold it in 3 days for 5k more than his asking price…came out of retirement and is now in real estate 😉

  9. Around here, if your house isn’t selling, it’s priced too high, plain and simple. Start lowering your price, and you’ll get offers!

  10. My wife and I recently sold our home within 4 weeks of it being on the market. I can’t agree enough about paying attention to the condition of the house. We have 2 young boys who seem to leave a trail of destruction behind them, yet we made sure the house was immaculate for viewings. It took it’s toll as we had 8 viewings in a month but it was worth it in the end. Great Post!

  11. Timing is also an issue. We put our home on the market shortly after Thanksgiving. We had a 3 week period with nobody scheduling a showing. Once mid January hit, we were getting at least one per week.

  12. Far too many home owners forget to take their emotions out of home selling – it’s not what you value the home, it’s what’s fair value on the market. Homeowners get attached and often feel it is worth more, but you have to be objective. Also, many shouldn’t just rely on realtors for their two cents, because let’s face it – they ultimately get paid. So, I say negotiate your com, do the research of homes for sale in your are that are comparable and try selling at a time when most others aren’t selling their homes.

  13. kimateyesonthedollar says:

    Pricing too high is why most homes don’t sell. Even if the location is bad, needs major repairs, etc, if you adjust for the price, someone will buy it. Homeowners get attached and often feel it is worth more, but you have to be objective.

  14. Good post! We’ve not yet had to wade into the waters of selling a house, just the pleasure of buying one. While I think many of these are great tips, I think the realtor can make a world of difference. Ours was incredibly helpful and opened our eyes up to things we did not see at all, in a word she was objective when we were not.

  15. Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy says:

    I haven’t needed to sell a property yet, but I do know this market has been particularly brutal. These all seem like solid and common sense tips to consider while selecting potential candidates for realtors. In your experience, Stewart, is it common for homeowners to unwittingly overprice their homes or have unrealistic expectations?

  16. Pauline, one of the biggest problems we always face is Realtors over pricing properties to get the listings. I have lost out on numerous listings because we strive to tell the truth. In the end, they always sell closer to what we originally said.

    It is very important to study all the proof and research before signing the agreements and deciding on price.

  17. When I put my house on the market I signed contracts with four or five realtors. I ended up selling it myself. What they did was tell me the property was worth a lot to gain my business, but they wouldn’t sell it. Price is the most important factor on a sale and usually realtors are here to boost the price, even paying their commission you may end up with a bit more money than selling yourself.

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