Why Isn't My House Selling in This Market? How to Get Offers

Why Isn't My House Selling in This Market? How to Get Offers

Posted on Feb 04, 2022

It’s a hot seller’s market right now, which means that homes are getting snapped up quickly. At peak buying frenzy in June 2021, U.S. homes were on the market for a median of 35.5 days, according to FRED. By comparison, homes were on the market for a median of 68.5 days in June 2020. In other words, homes have been selling twice as fast - and going for more money, too.

Yet not every seller experiences a quick path to closing. In fact, hundreds of home sellers are asking themselves: why is my house not selling? And what can I do?

If you’re having trouble getting a “SOLD” sign on your property, here’s what you need to know.

Why a Home Not Selling is a Problem

If your home is taking longer than you thought it would to sell, you’re already in the danger zone. There is a clear benefit to selling quickly: the longer your home remains on the market, the less likely you are to get asking price or above asking price.

According to data from Zillow, sellers who accept an offer within the first week of listing have a 57% chance of selling for list price. By week 2, it drops to 50% - by week 3, 39% - and so on. This may be especially true in today’s market - if a home doesn’t sell quickly, it’s very likely there's more to it than just bad luck.

So once you realize your home isn’t selling, you need to be proactive - otherwise you risk losing even more profit.

Every local real estate market has different norms based on the time of year, current interest rates, etc. Therefore, there’s no “right” point at which a home should sell by. Generally speaking though, you should start worrying if it hasn’t sold within the first month - especially because it’s really the first week that a home receives the most attention.

To solve the problem, you need to understand it first. We know your home isn’t selling, but the question is why. 

Why Isn’t My House Selling? You Priced Too High

The most common reason a home isn’t selling is that it's priced too high. Many home sellers are advised by their Realtor to enter at close to the market rate, but they decide to take their chances - figuring they can always lower the price later. 

The problem here is two-fold. First, your home gets the most hits online the first week it’s posted. So once you lose that initial bump of attention, you can’t get it back.

"If you price it right, everyone wants the shiny new toy at the same time, and that's where you get into a competitive situation - which is what every seller wants,"  explains Jeannie Bryers, a listing agent for the competitive Philadelphia suburbs. "You're going to get the most traffic that first or second weekend, depending on when you have an open house. 

Second, price reductions and homes lingering on the market send a message to buyers that there may be something wrong with the home, and that you’re likely getting desperate to sell it. 

"Buyers can definitely develop a lot of misconceptions the longer you’re on the market - they'll assume you'll drop the price $20,000 out of desperation, or will accept a lot of concessions. You want to strike when you're hot - so price it right for those first couple weeks," she adds."

It can be tempting to assume that you can get as much as your neighbors down the street did - but your homes aren’t going to be exactly the same in terms of square footage, bedrooms, etc. Even in a hot market, pricing your home too aggressively can mean people overlook it - whereas pricing it at market value can often lead to bidding wars.

Bryers explains how the crazy 2021 market has led some sellers to price too high this year.

“A lot of whisper-down-the-lane has occurred," she says. “Because of the spring and earlier summer where things were really crazy, it created a ripple effect of people talking to their neighbor or their brother, whoever, and taking their recommendation. Like, ‘Oh, your house sold in an hour for $60,000 over, so I can get that too’…but it’s not that crazy anymore, I’m not getting 10 offers on a house.”

In other words, market conditions are always shifting, and a super-hot market is rarely sustainable. While you can definitely get multiple offers on your home, going into the process assuming that you’ll get 20% over market rate is setting yourself up for disappointment. 

Keep in mind, too, that only about 30% of home buyers are cash buyers - and any buyer working with a lender is going to be partially constrained by the home appraisal. If your home is way overpriced, their lender may not approve the loan - even if the buyer thinks the price is fair.

Solution: Price Dropping

Price Dropping: If your home has already been on the market for several weeks, it’s important to move quickly and decisively. Listen to your agent’s advice regarding a price drop. You’re typically better off opting for a more substantial price decrease the first time, rather than dropping $1,000 off today, then waiting a week to drop it down another $4,000.

Bryers notes that for sellers who are unwilling to drop the price, sometimes offering concessions can sweeten the deal. 

“I think most sellers know the conversation is coming about price dropping and some of them get very turned off about that. If they're not open to lowering the price, which they certainly should do after a couple weeks, there are other things you can do,” she explains. “If there's needed cosmetic updates - if the carpet has stains on it or something, the agent can put in the marketing that the seller is willing to credit $5,000 toward new carpet. If there’s an area of the house you're getting consistent feedback on that it’s a drawback, you need to offer something to help buyers pull the trigger.”

Why Isn’t My House Selling? Poor Marketing

These days looking at homes on Realtor or Zillow is practically a hobby for some people. Suffice to say: the vast majority of people will check out a home online before they go to see it in person. If your brokerage opted for grainy phone photos rather than professional photography that makes your home look its best, then you may be suffering from a poor marketing plan. 

You might also check to make sure your listing description is complete and accurate - does it have the right number of rooms? Bathrooms? Does it mention the outdoor space? Etc.

“There are a lot of people who are using the photography and video tours as a sort-of first showing, because of COVID concerns. So that's their first glimpse of the house - and if the photos are done wrong, it can really turn a buyer off,” explains Bryers. “I think photography is essential, and having it done right is incredibly important because of the environment we’ve all been living in for the past couple of years.”

Solution: Get Better Photos 

Full-service brokerages like Houwzer provide professional real estate photography as part of their listing services. If your brokerage doesn’t - or won’t - spring for professional photography, it may be worth investing in yourself in order to ensure your home sells successfully.


Left photo: Cell phone photo. Poor staging and a vertical shot mean the photo is focused on the trash bin, and it’s difficult to see the room’s size or its features. Low resolution means a blurry light fixture. 

Right photo: Houwzer’s photo uses a wide-angle lens and a strategic angle to make the room feel open and inviting. It’s easy to see the room’s entire layout.

Why Isn’t My House Selling? It’s an Unusual Property

You may have fallen in love with your home’s unique features - whether that’s the all-black goth room, the hidden room, a hexagonal shape, a tree in the middle, or the giant garage that can house five cars. The reality is, though, that normal homes sell easily, while unusual properties often struggle to get the same attention. 

Even if you loved having a five-car garage and might have paid a lot of money for this customization, the pool of buyers who need that much space for automobiles is a lot smaller than the pool of buyers who only need space for one or two cars. 

Solution: Alternative Marketing

Sometimes, having a unique home or one with odd features may mean you need to accept a price cut, rather than charging a premium for one-of-a-kind architecture. Alternatively, you may need to discuss a more nuanced marketing strategy with your listing agent - there are buyers who prioritize huge garages, after all. It may just take more networking to find them.

Why Isn’t My House Selling? Competition

One of the reasons many sellers were able to get top dollar for their homes earlier in 2021 was the combination of high demand and low inventory. If someone wants a condo in your building - and you’re the only one selling a condo - this triggers a sense of scarcity and urgency. People will bid higher, knowing it’s their only chance. 

But what if four similar condos are selling in your building at the same time? Even though all the properties have similar amenities and the same comps will likely be used, buyers aren’t going to be as concerned about their offer for your condo being declined - because they still have three more chances.

“I always tell my sellers when I’m pricing their house that I don’t like to have three other houses I’m in competition with,” explains Bryers. “If there's no competition, then that's going to engage interest and people might not necessarily care about cosmetic updates - they really just want to secure a house. But if there are a couple of homes for sale that pop up at once, it can actually become a pocket buyer’s market - just because they have so many options.”


Pay attention to your local real estate market. If multiple homes in your neighborhood have gone for sale around the same time, you may not be able to command the same level of buyer frenzy that many sellers encountered months ago when inventory hit all-time lows. If you have flexibility in when you can list, you'd be wise to hold off. 

If your home is already listed and dealing with competition, you may want to intentionally drop the price below market value in order to lure away buyers from the other homes and re-create that sense of urgency and "rare deal."

Why Isn’t My House Selling? Inexperienced Agent

Sometimes, rather than interviewing agents in order to find the most experienced person to sell their home, home sellers end up hiring family friends, cousins, or the first person Zillow puts them in contact with. Sometimes this works out - but it’s a gamble. 

If your agent waited a month to have an open house, forgot to communicate promptly with interested buyers, misrepresented important facts about your home in the listing, or used grainy phone photos instead of professional photography - then you might be struggling to sell your home.

Solution: Ask to End It, or Wait it Out

The bad news is that you likely signed a listing agreement with your agent that you're legally bound to - typically for 6 months.

The good news is that if you and your agent are truly a bad match for each other, sometimes the brokerage will agree to break the contract early. If you've had communication issues with your agent, be ready to back up your claim factually.

If the brokerage declines, you may need to wait out the contract - or try and resolve the underlying issues as best you can.

So: Why Isn't My House Selling?

There are a number of reasons you may struggle to sell your home. Some of the most likely reasons:

  • Pricing it too high
  • Bad marketing
  • Unusual property
  • Too much competition
  • Inexperienced agent

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate these issues so that you can get your home off your hands, and money in your pocket.

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