Why isn’t my house selling?

The Top 10 Issues That Are Preventing Your Home From Selling:

The magical question…  The one that raises the blood pressure of the average real estate agent.  The dreaded, “Why isn’t my home selling?!”

Normally, this question is answered with a canned response from one of the big 3.  Price, Condition, or Location. Granted, there are times when one of these issues is the culprit and maybe the agent just lacks the skill or market knowledge to fully explain why.  However, those problems are not what we’ll be looking at today.  We’re going to check in to some of the more intricate issues that could be effecting activity, showings, and even offers.

Issue #1.  The Home is not geo-coded properly and therefore isn’t showing up in Map Searches

According to the 2011 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 35% of buyers cited their real estate agent as the source for discovering the property that they eventually purchased. 
My favorite way to search for properties when helping buyers is to plug in their criteria and draw a circle on the map around their desired neighborhoods/areas.  This allows other neighborhoods that the buyer may have overlooked to be included.  But, your house won’t show up if the agent didn’t map it in the MLS properly. 

Issue #2.  Your pictures are…  Awful!  (Or, in some cases, non-existent)

This is one of the more common problems that I see when sorting through listings on the MLS.  Side note, be sure your agent is uploading the pictures as soon as the property hits the MLS.  Many times an agent will put a new listing in but fail to attach pictures for a few days.  The initial wave of buyer interest will have been missed because they had nothing to look at. 
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!
More on the effect of pictures on the overall marketing of the home…  I took a listing recently that had been on the market with another agent for 9 months with nothing to show for it.  It was listed at $279,900 when it came off and we re-listed for $274,900.  Granted, a small price adjustment was made, but as you can imagine – most people listed at $279,900 would probably be willing to take $274,900.  Long story short, we were only on the market for 6 days before receiving multiple offers and eventually accepting a full price offer (with the owner doing about $1,000 in repairs). 
Can pictures make this big of a difference every time?  No.  But it’s extremely important to ensure they’re done properly.   The pictures from the old listing are contrasted with the pictures from my listing below (click to enlarge).  You can see how this may make the difference between an online buyer clicking for the next listing or stopping and scheduling a showing!

Issue #3.  Incorrect property information. 

Have you actually gone online to check and verify the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, garage type, etc.?  These are all items that play an early role in a buyer eliminating properties from their search.  See the example below.  This property is listed for over $900k and the square footage box is showing “zero.”  The listing agent accidentally put the square footage number in the “additional detached heated sq ft” box.  Which would indicate that there is a really big mother-in-law suite!  More importantly, someone doing a search online for homes between 4,000 and 5,000 SqFt wouldn’t find this property… 

Issue #4.  The public remarks don’t tell a story.

Have you ever been looking online for a home yourself and come across that generic verbiage used by banks when they sell property?  For Example:

This home is being sold As Is with no warranties…  Blah, blah, blah.

Frustrating right?

Well, that’s how buyers view a poorly worded, or researched, description.

Make sure that your description is telling a story.  Because syndication sites (Zillow, Trulia, & Yahoo Real Estate) are going to match the description input in the MLS.  So, make it good!

But don’t confuse lengthy – with good.  Sometimes less truly is more.  Even the most simple description can make the difference between someone making an appointment to see it – or not.  

Finally, I’ve found that there’s a certain mindset attached with a buyer who wants to look at (and make an offer on) a property that has a bad description…  They’re called Bargain Hunters!

Issue #5.  Your representative has a bad reputation among the agent community.

Let’s say the buyer’s agent has 4 homes that they’re helping their buyer to choose from.  All of these homes fill their buyers housing wants/needs.  What might play a role in eliminating properties from that list?  You got it!  The agent.  Now, obviously a good agent won’t bad-mouth another Realtor (See Article 15 of the Realtor® Code of Ethics).  But, if they know the listing agent is notorious for: not returning phone calls, being stubborn and defensive during negotiations, and approaches the business with a reckless abandon – they’re actually protecting their buyer from a potentially frustrating and even harmful negotiation process.  

So, how do you check for such an issue?  1) Check their license for complaints on the DBPR website.  2) Ask around.  3) Trust your gut.

As the Proverb says,

A good name is more desirable than great riches…

Issue #6.  Incomplete property, or community, information.

Golf, pool, clubhouse, landscaping, exercise facilities…  What all do your HOA dues cover?  Or, do you even have HOA dues?  The assumption on a seller’s part is normally that a buyer who’s considering the neighborhood (or their agent showing property) will already know everything that the area offers.  Not so!

If your agent doesn’t know, then who’s going to inform potential buyers and their agents?

My advice, get an information packet from the association to include in the MLS documents, and fill out a complete information sheet about all of the home’s features and additions.  

Issue #7.  Buyers can’t get in!

The above is an example of showing instructions that an agent must check before gaining access to a property.  There are few things more frustrating than having to jump through multiple hoops in order to schedule a showing.  Sometimes, this is unavoidable – like when a home is tenant occupied and 24 hour notice is required.  However, there are often times when the listing agent is the only point of contact for a property and they never answer their phone or return voice messages! 

If an agent tells you that they (personally) handle all of their showing appointments…  Run!!  It’s virtually impossible for one person to be available 24/7.  


Just last week I was showing a home in San Marco to a buyer, and upon arrival realized that there was a lockbox that required a code.  The showing instructions indicated that there was an electronic lockbox (that real estate agents have an electronic key for), so I obviously hadn’t called to ask for the lockbox code.  While standing outside I called the agent (the only point of contact) multiple times to try and get the code, and still have yet to receive a return phone call almost a week later!

Issue #8.  Your listing is not being syndicated to other sites.

There has been a lot of turmoil amongst the real estate community about sending data to sites like Zillow & Trulia (if you’re curious you can find an article about the subject here).  This isn’t the place to have that discussion, but you should know that your agent might (without even knowing it) have your homes listing turned off to some of the major players in the online real estate community.

Issue #9.  The buyer’s agents commission is not competitive.  

Commissions, yes, are completely negotiable in the state of Florida.  And I will, regardless of the commission, show a property to a buyer of mine who requests a showing.  That being said, your home is competing with others in the marketplace for a potential buyer.  When it comes down to it, if the other property is offering an agent a slightly higher commission, which do you think they’d rather sell?

3 Steps to a competitive offering:

    1. Analyze the competition to determine what is average/common for your neighborhood or area.
    2. Be slightly better than the rest
    3. Increase the commission rate instead of offering a bonus.  It’s more detectable from an agent perspective and therefore more likely to give you the desired “kick” in activity and interest

Below was a study done in the Jacksonville marketplace to determine the effect of different commission rates on average days on market and the list/sale price ratio.

Issue #10.  Your agent isn’t being aggressive.

Are you getting showings but no offers? 

Enter: The Reverse Offer

What is a “reverse offer?”  Glad you asked…

Imagine a buyer that is deciding between 2 or 3 properties (happens all of the time) and they’re waiting on a “sign” before choosing which home to make an offer on.  A reverse offer may be just what the doctor ordered!

Normally, a buyer makes an offer to a seller…  A reverse offer is simply a role reversal.   The seller and their listing agent putting together a purchase & sale agreement along with other addenda and presenting it to the potential buyer.

Here’s the key – A reverse offer needs to deliver a one time benefit to that specific buyer.  If they’re moving from out of town and don’t have furniture, “We’ll leave the furniture in the living/dining area if we can come to an agreement on the price/terms for the property before weeks end.”  It doesn’t matter what the benefit is, just that it’s specific to this buyer and has a limited time frame attached.

It’s basically taking a little bit of creativity and mixing it with some pro-activity, which more often than not – will create a sale!!


Sometimes the cause of your home not selling might just be…  You!  Sounds harsh, but if you’ve turned down more than one showing, don’t make it easy to show (no lockbox), refuse to de-clutter the house, or don’t leave when a prospective buyer is viewing the home (it’s just kind of awkward to have the owner eavesdropping the entire time) – you might need to venture outside of your comfort zone a bit to get the home sold.

This post was inspired by Brian Copeland of NashvilleandBeyond.com.  If you’re ever in need of a Nashville real estate agent, he’s your guy!