House not selling? Here are five reasons why

House not selling? Here are five reasons why


Is your house on the market, but not selling? Here are five reasons why

  • It is a buyer’s market, prices are falling and many are finding it harder to sell
  • Property agents tell us five of the most common reasons homes refuse to shift

It is not an easy time to be selling your home.

Little more than a year ago, sellers had the upper hand as the housing market was red hot and there were plenty of buyers competing for each available property – and bumping up the price in the process.

But higher mortgage rates, falling house prices and economic uncertainty mean that the power balance has shifted. 

Buyers are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, and sellers have to work harder to secure an offer at the price they want. Meanwhile, it seems gazundering is on the rise.

How much? Agents say one of the top reasons homes don’t sell is because they are overpriced

Others find their property remains on the market for a long time, and are faced with either cutting the price, or holding their nerve and risking their listing hanging around even longer. 

According to experts, though, some sellers might not be putting their best foot forward. They say that there are common reasons some properties aren’t selling which can be relatively easily fixed.

We look at five things sellers might be getting wrong in the current market – and what they can do about it.

One of the most important factors when selling your home is to have the right agent in your corner.

The firm you choose should be working hard to get it seen by the right buyers – and if they aren’t, you can always take your business elsewhere.

Colby Short, co-founder of estate agent comparison website GetAgent, says: ‘There’s a whole host of reasons you may be struggling to sell your home but they often stem from one core factor and that’s your estate agent,’ he says.

‘The best approach is to research the best-performing agent in your area based on metrics like the average time to sell, the percentage of asking price achieved consistently and their customer satisfaction rating.’

Short warns against picking the agent who promises the highest price – or the lowest fee – as this can prove to be a false economy.

Agent of chaos: Bad estate agents can set unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment later on when the asking price is not met 

‘These are two big red flags as a good agent will rarely compromise on fee and won’t over-value simply to win your business,’ he says.

He adds that ‘fixed-fee’ agents who promise to sell a home for a set amount, rather than a percentage of the sale price, are sometimes best avoided.

‘The vast majority of these agents don’t actively work to progress your sale beyond you accepting an offer and this is actually the most vital part of the selling process,’ he says. 

‘Particularly in current market conditions where uncertainty has grown, you need a good agent working day in, day out to ensure your sale is progressing right the way through to completion.’

Read our guide to the nine questions you should ask an estate agent before hiring them.

2. Your asking price is too high

According to agents, this is the number one reason people are struggling to sell their homes. 

House prices have soared since the pandemic, with annual growth reaching up to 15 per cent at some points in 2021 and 2022. 

That’s no longer the case, and the latest indexes show subdued growth or even price falls.

Experts say that home sellers need to adjust to this new reality if they want to sell. 

Otherwise, they risk sitting on the market for a long time – which makes the property seem less attractive to buyers as they assume something must be wrong with it.

James Forrester, managing director of agent Barrows and Forrester, says: ‘There simply isn’t the same buyer feeding frenzy as there was a year ago.

‘It’s commonplace for sellers to enter the market with an unrealistic price expectation to begin with, and this can see their property sit on the market with little to no interest for weeks on end.

‘A property can hold incredible sentimental value and so it’s understandable that this can often fog our judgement. 

‘However, today’s market is very different to that of 12 months ago and pricing in line with current market conditions is vital if you want to secure a sale.’

Tim Dansie, director of Jackson-Stops estate agents in Ipswich, adds that even if a buyer agrees to your ambitious price, it can all fall apart later on when they apply for a mortgage – potentially unravelling the whole chain.

‘One of the realities of a more balanced market is the need for buyers and sellers to find a middle ground on pricing,’ he says. 

‘We’re clear with buyers when conducting valuations that over enthusiastic asking prices could lead to disappointment down the line.

‘Long chains are often reliant upon a number of mortgages being accepted and completions going through, which is where any overvalued pricing quickly becomes unravelled by lenders who use the true market values, risking the whole chain collapsing.

‘Accepting price adjustments of around 5-10 per cent from the outset can secure a buyer, expedite the sales process, and avoid last-minute negotiations.’

Tidy up: The clutter associated with pets and kids can put off some would-be buyers

3. You didn’t spruce it up beforehand

With buyers in a position to be picky, it is more important than ever to present your home in the best possible light.

That means not only keeping the property clean and clutter-free, but also taking care of small DIY tasks that might be making it look a little rough around the edges.

Seemingly trivial jobs such as touching up chipped paintwork, getting the windows cleaned and weeding the driveway can all pay dividends. 

‘You’d be shocked at how many sellers bring an unfit property to market and then scratch their heads when buyers are less than enthusiastic,’ says Von Grundherr.

‘You really need to showcase your home and any features it may have. 

‘Clutter, mess, kids’ toys, pet hair, these are all things that can produce a negative opinion of your property and in the current market, you simply can’t afford to put buyers off.’

Pro tip: Agents say that homes should be shown off with professional photographs

4. The photos aren’t good enough

Another problem can be the photos of your home online not being up to scratch. 

Most buyers’ first encounter with your home will be on a jam-packed property listings website, and stand-out images can make the difference between a buyer booking a viewing or not. 

Make sure they look professional and show all areas of the home, inside and out.

‘Presentation is key and this starts with your property photos. 

‘If you’re marketing with a few smartphone snaps instead of professional photographs then you’re already at a disadvantage,’ says Von Grundherr.

If your home has been on the market for some time, it is a good idea to get a fresh set of images that reflect the current season. You can ask your estate agent to do this.

Looking at photos of a home with the sun shining and a leafy tree in the garden when it’s snowing outside is a dead giveaway that it has been hanging around for a while.  

Be nice! Agents say homeowners can be rude when buyers come to view the property

5. Potential buyers are put off by YOU

Finally, anyone struggling to sell their home needs to confront the uncomfortable possibility that it’s not the house that is the problem, but the owner. 

If you are present for viewings, you want to come across as friendly, positive and helpful. 

Moving home can be incredibly stressful, and you should show prospective buyers that you’re not going to be a thorn in their side.

Von Grundherr adds: ‘More often than not, you may be the problem. 

‘The majority of the time a seller will be present during the viewing process, and you’d be surprised how often they can be cold, unwelcoming, short, or even rude.

‘You really need to turn on the charm and if you can’t, let your agent handle the viewing process completely.’

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