Expired Listings

Why Didn’t My Home Sell?

by Lisa Timko with Keller Williams in Cleveland, Ohio

The tips provided here are only recommendations and in no way guarantees that if you do what is suggested, your house will sell. Recommendations here based on market research and typical buyer preferences.

Here are top reasons homes don’t sell and what you can do about it!

#1: Price

The #1 reason homes don’t sell is due to overpricing.

In real estate, market value is determined by the buyer, not the seller. In other words, a home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. If after marketing your property for a period of time you haven’t located a buyer, it may be overpriced.

How is value determined?

Real Estate Cleveland Ohio Property Values Realtor

First, be sure to compare apples to apples.

Focus on these TOP 5 features when comparing your house to your neighbor’s house:

  • Square Footage
  • Lot Size
  • Kitchen and Bathroom Updates
  • No.of Bedrooms
  • No. of Full Bathrooms

→ Be careful not to add value where value isn’t added.

The following items do not necessarily add significant value to your home — even if they were quite costly to you when you added them:

  • Swimming Pool
  • Elaborate Landscaping/Garden
  • Jacuzzi
  • Finished Basement (vs. unfinished, unless it’s exceptional)
  • Firepit
  • Fruit Trees
  • Pizza Oven
  • Woodburner or Fireplace
  • More Garage Space
  • Storage Shed
  • Fresh Paint

How to fix the problem of overpricing.

TIP #1: The best way to estimate the value of your property – which could change in a short period of time in a fluctuating market – is to have your real estate agent create a CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA pulls recent sales history in your immediate neighborhood so that you can compare your home to those that have sold in your neighborhood based on the TOP 5 criteria listed above. Then make adjustments for the items in the “Things That Turn Buyers Off” section below that apply to your home and will likely decrease the value of your home.

Want to see what homes like yours are selling for in your neighborhood? Request a free CMA.

#2: Market Conditions

If you’ve determined that your home is priced right based on the information provided above, the problem may be you are in a buyer’s market or in a market slump due to the economy.

What to do different in a buyer’s market.

In a buyer’s market, there is more inventory than there are buyers. This gives buyers the upper-hand in the market. There are plenty of properties to choose from and they can expect to negotiate for the best terms possible. You will experience competition from other properties in your neighborhood that have more to offer than your home might. This does not necessarily mean you have to take less for your home. But it does mean you have to offer more!

“It can be advantageous to make sure your home is move-in ready and shows well in photos. If the home isn’t move-in ready, sellers should be open to offering additional concessions, such as paying closing costs or a carpet or paint allowance. Also, if your home has a unique or uncommon feature—a larger than average backyard, secret room, etc.—it’s important to highlight that feature to buyers.” 

Terri Williams, Realtor.com article What Is a Buyer’s Market—and What Does It Mean If You’re Buying, Selling, or Just Looking?

 TIP #1: Be sure your home is in top condition in a buyer’s market.

  • Remove wallpaper and dramatic paint color and replace with fresh neutral paint.
  • Clean, clean, clean. Everything should shine!
  • Invest in landscaping if your yard isn’t inviting.
  • Include a one-year home warranty.
  • Remove all the clutter including inside your closets and attic space.
  • Remove/replace old carpeting.
  • Replace old screen doors.
  • Remove dated curtains.
  • Minimize wall decor including family pictures.
  • Clear off all counter-tops and backs of toilets.
  • Set out fresh towels in the bathroom.
  • Remove strong scented candles.

TIP#2:  Work with an agent who will spend real dollars marketing your home.

These are the top ways to improve the marketing of your home in 2020:

  • Professional photos
  • Drone aerial photography
  • 3D virtual home tour
  • Virtual open house events
  • Paid social media marketing
  • Professional staging

What to do in a housing slump.

In a housing slump, sellers really only have two options: lower your asking price or wait to sell until the market improves.

For some people, waiting to sell isn’t an option. Unfortunately, you will likely have to take less than you had hoped for if you want to sell within a reasonable amount of time.

If you are are also buying, you will save money on that side of your move just like your buyers did on your home! 

If you are not buying, you might want to consider leasing the property and selling at a later time.

TIP #1: Lower your expectations and be flexible with your asking price. Remember, the longer you are in your home, the more you have to invest in maintaining it and paying taxes on it, which are dollars you could otherwise be investing in your new home. Don’t get too hung up on asking price in a housing slump.

TIP #2: Rent your home if you are willing to do the work of property management. There are risks involved with renting out your property, such as bad tenants, so this is a decision you should think hard about before making. Talk with others who own investment properties. 

 #3: Things That Turn Buyers Off

While I always say “There is a buyer for every home,” the buyer pool will be reduced significantly if your property has an issue that most buyers don’t like. The houses that require the least amount of work and have the strongest appeal sell the fastest.

Here are some examples of issues that will likely turn away buyers:

  • Unmaintained
  • Wallpaper
  • Dramatic paint color
  • Sloped yard/creek/ravine
  • Low power lines overhead
  • Transmission tower nearby
  • Neighboring property not maintained
  • Unruly neighbors/Barking dogs next door
  • Railroad or highway behind or next to property
  • Flight pattern overhead
  • Construction nearby
  • Yard untidy
  • Large trees close to the house
  • Commercial building/apartment/school next door
  • Located on a one way street
  • Located on a primary road
  • Cluttered
  • Old carpet
  • No central air conditioning
  • Heat from another source besides a furnace
  • Septic tank
  • No city water
  • High association fees
  • Gravel driveway
  • Someone died in the home
  • Crime was committed on the property

TIP #1: If you checked one or more of the items above, your home will typically take longer to sell and you should consider lowering your price or, if possible, resolve the issue.

 #4: Steep Association Fees

This is a difficult one because you don’t have any control over your association’s fees. For first time home buyers in particular, this can be a deal-breaker. Most association fees will add $200-$300 to the monthly housing costs, which put the property out of reach for buyers on a budget. 

TIP #1: One thing you can do to help sell your home if the association fee is fairly high is to offer a concession for the first year. Some homeowners offer the first year’s association fee paid for. This can make the purchase a little less overwhelming to buyers if they know they can go a whole year without worrying about the fee.

TIP #2: The other way around this is to adjust your price to take into account the association fees. And be sure to “justify” the fees — clearly define the perks of belonging to the association. Don’t leave anything out. This information should be included in the public listing description.


I hope this information was helpful to you! 

If you would like to know other possible reasons your home didn’t sell, feel free to send me photos of the inside and outside of your property and I will be happy to give you my professional opinion. To receive my email address, send a request for my email address on my Contact Me page.

If you would like to learn about listing your home with me, please visit my home sellers page.