Why is My House Not Selling? 4 Mistakes 2023 Sellers are Making

Why is My House Not Selling? 4 Mistakes 2023 Sellers are Making

Posted on May 30, 2023

Selling your home can be a nerve-wracking experience. You can hope that homebuyers will pay your asking price, but it doesn’t always work out that way - and being able to sell quickly is often the key to maintaining your equity. If you’re wondering why your house isn’t selling, here’s what’s likely going on.

Why isn’t my house selling? Let’s review the market conditions.

Over the last two years, the housing market has shifted dramatically from incredibly low-interest rates, to rates higher than anything we’ve seen in the past 15 years. On top of that, buyers competing to take advantage of the low rates pushed home prices up, up, up. 

So it’s important to keep in mind that buyers are dealing with high monthly payments. All U.S. states saw mortgage payments increase at least 52% in cost since 2021, making it much harder to afford a home. 

That might sound like a difficult time to sell. Working in sellers’ favor, however, is a super low inventory of homes. With so few homes on the market, buyers are desperate to snap up the homes that are available. 

For this reason, it’s important to respond quickly if your home isn’t selling. As a seller, you still have some edge on the market - and should be able to find a buyer so long as your home is priced reasonably. 

Problem #1: You’ve priced your home too high

More than anything else, pricing too high is usually the problem.

Sellers often assume that it’s financially strategic to list high, then knock down the price if no one buys. The problem with this strategy is that the market is time-sensitive. New homes on the market get the most eyeballs online, and homes that have been on the market for months are often greeted with suspicion. People assume there’s a reason it hasn’t been bought. 

You also lose some negotiating power. Once your home has sat on the market for 3 months, buyers no longer have that sense of urgency. They know that no one else has touched your home at the listed price - so they won’t feel compelled to offer it. They’re more likely to low-ball and see just how low you’ll go.

For this reason, it makes sense to price your home competitively from the beginning. If it’s truly a great price, you’ll potentially receive several offers and get to pick and choose the best. For most people, this is likely preferable to having your home sitting on the market for months, then having to choose from several low-ball offers.

If your home has already been on the market for a while, you can’t go back in time. Here’s how to price your home correctly going forward:

  • Take a look at homes in your area that have gone to market or sold recently. If your home is priced higher, are you offering more rooms/more updates/more amenities than they are? Or are you simply the more expensive offer that makes them look good by comparison?
  • Price competitively. You’re no longer the spring chicken on the block. Consider going a bit under market value in order to generate real, renewed interest and potentially multiple offers.
  • Have an honest conversation with your agent - and take their advice seriously. Lowering the price by $1,000 is not going to be enough to bring in new buyers. Most experts recommend dropping the price by at least 4% at minimum, and up to 10%, in order to generate real interest. It’s tough for a buyer to see the difference between paying $299,000 and $300,000. But a 4% cut from a $300,000 home is $288,000, and that could help put your home in front of fresh eyes. 

Problem #2: Roadblocks to the buyer moving in

A year or two ago, sellers often got offers on homes despite all the repairs and updates their homes needed. Buyers didn’t care because they were getting their home with a 3% interest rate - fixing the kitchen sink could be accommodated. 

The current market requires buyers to be more discerning about the homes they buy, because with a 7% interest rate, they’re paying more for them than anyone has before. They likely don’t have as much wiggle room to take on fixing outdated electrical wiring for $1,000, and crumbling stucco for $5,000.

Instead of leaving all the issues for the new owners to solve, address all the easy fixes, whether that’s laying down a fresh coat of paint or pulling up stained, ratty carpeting from 1998. Make less work for your incoming buyers.

And if you’re selling your home “as is,” definitely consider whether there’s a true downside to allowing buyers to make an offer then negotiating the price down based on anticipated repairs. You don’t necessarily have to take care of the repairs yourself - but buyers don’t like making offers without knowing the full picture of what they’ll spend (and they only receive the results of the inspection after they make you an offer).

Problem #3: Poor marketing

We live in a visual era, yet not every seller has committed to showcasing their house through photography.

  • According to RisMedia, there’s a positive correlation between more photos and selling your home. Homes with more photos sell faster, too. A home with one photo spends an average of 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends 32 days on the market.
  • According to Forbes, 91% of consumers prefer visual content to written content.

For a visual explanation, we checked out two homes both for sale within a couple blocks of each other in the Olde Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. The homes have nearly identical square footages of 1,042 and 1,043 square feet - Home #1 is a three-bedroom listed for $295,000, and Home #2 is a two-bedroom listed for $300,000.


If all things are equal, we would expect these two homes to receive roughly the same amount of traffic. If anything, Home #1 might generate slightly more traffic because it can accommodate more people, and is slightly cheaper.

The first uploaded photo is the most important one because it’s what initially draws online users to the home. 

House #1 uses a grainy, shadow-filled phone photo that makes the room look drab - and the angle makes it look smaller than it is. 

House #2 uses a professional photo and shoots from an angle that both highlights the space in the home, and offers visual intrigue.

Here are the stats via Zillow: 

  • House #1 has had 262 views and 4 saves over the past 30 days.
  • House #2 has had 624 views and 25 saves within one week.

In other words, the inviting first photo used by house #2 was enough to convince hundreds of additional people to click into the listing when compared to house #1. Both homes featured desirable amenities like stainless steel appliances and a half-bath on the first floor - but fewer buyers could even learn that about house #1, because buyers didn’t open the listing.

Using virtual staging to boost your listing

Visualization be something buyers struggle with, especially if the seller has already moved out of the home by the time the photography is being done. Virtual staging is one tool buyers can use to really make their homes stand out. Some brokerages may offer it as part of their package - if not, you can purchase it yourself, typically for around $5- $15 per room (compare this to traditional staging, which can cost $2,000+ for the home).

“I think just giving a visual of what could be in the room is helpful. Staged homes do show better,” explains Pamela Debnam, a DC-based Realtor. “It's super affordable, and most of the time they don't have to do every room but maybe the bedroom and the living room. Even though the buyer goes into the property and it's vacant, they can have an idea of what it could look like.”

Problem #4: Access and flexibility 

How easy is it for buyers to come and see your home? It’s understandable that having people tour your home is inconvenient - and you might limit the available showing hours in order to ensure a clean house and that dogs, kids, etc. are out of the way. 

However, limited hours for showings can limit showings, period. If a buyer is available to see homes on Saturday and they can access four other homes in your neighborhood - but not yours, because you only allow weekday hours after work - there’s a good chance they’ll simply take you off the list and potentially make an offer on one of the homes they do see, rather than waiting for your availability.

2 things you can do right now

It can take time to repair issues with your home or get professional photography lined up - and time is something you might not have a lot of right now. Here are two things you can do right away to help sell your home.

  • Double check that the listing information for your home is correct. Does it say one bathroom when it’s really 1.5? Is the separate, convenient laundry room mentioned? If there’s a basement, have you included photos of it so that the people who care about storage know what to expect? Information like this can be essential because you never know what is on a buyer’s “must have” list.
  • Ask for feedback from past showings. Ask your listing agent to talk to the buyer agents who have stopped by, about what dissuaded their clients from making an offer. This can help you more quickly identify the issues and resolve them - rather than guessing.
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