The hot topic in the Southern Ontario real estate market has been the 'hot market' for much of 2017. As we've entered summer, the warmer weather has had the adverse effect on home sales and cooled the market a bit. Prices are still high, and so is demand...but through a variety of factors (call it interest rates, regulatory impact, or just a plain ceiling on the general purchaser's buying power), supply is rising and homes are sitting on the market a bit longer.

If you are one of those people who thought it was time to cash in on a hot market, but haven't had quite the easy ride you were expecting, this article is for you. Take a look at 11 of the biggest reasons why your house isn't selling, and some insight into how you can fix the problem.

For those of you trying to buy a home and having issues, these won't make your lives harder, but rather hopefully shed light on some of the reasons you've had limited luck as well. Maybe if some sellers take this advice into consideration, 

1. You’re Charging Too Much

I know you think your house is worth $x dollars.  But just because you think your house is worth an amount it doesn’t mean it actually is.

Want to know what your house is worth?

Whatever someone is willing to pay for it – no more, no less.  Want to know something else?  Every house can sell, it just needs the right price.  You may not want to lower the price of your home, which is understandable, but if you need to sell, you may be better off lowering the price now to move it than wait months and end up lowering the price anyway. 

2. There’s No Curb Appeal

Imagine your house isn’t yours.  Remove yourself emotionally.  Now go across the street and look at that house that is being sold and ask yourself if that house looks appealing?

Does it?  How is the lawn?  Is it green and weed-free?  The hedges?  Are they cut and neat?  How’s the paint job?  Does it need touching up?  Is it weathered and cracked?  Does the overall layout of the look of the house make sense?  How is the lighting?

Look around your neighbourhood at houses you love.  Go look at some houses that just sold too for good measure.  What do they look like?  What about them appeals to you?   Is that how your house is?

Curb appeal is something that you may be able to fix up inexpensively and the return could very well be the difference between selling and not selling your house!  A good landscaper may be able to suggest a few inexpensive touches that could make your house look much better.

3. Your House is Cluttered Inside

If you are serious about selling your home, do what you can to open it up inside and out.  Get rid of as much as you can.  All of those knick-knacks you have on the shelves are visual clutter for the potential buyer.  Your amazing furniture doesn’t allow a buyer to see the layout as they need to see it.

It helps to live like a minimalist when selling your home.  If you have to put things in storage, so be it.  Make sure your clutter isn’t costing you a sale.  Open up the place and keep only the bare essentials.

4. Your House is Actually a Mess

Be honest with yourself – is your house clean?  Really?  Are the appliances clean (I’m looking at you oven and refrigerator shelves)?  Is the bathroom spotless?  Even in the corners?  How about the kitchen?  Is there laundry visible anywhere?  What’s in the kitchen sink or the dishwasher?

I know it’s hard keeping up with all of the household tasks as it is, but when you are selling a house you really have to work to keep things clean.  Your house may be awesome but if it’s in any way a mess, a potential buyer won’t see the awesomeness, they will see the dirty toilet and be pretty turned off.  If you need to, hire a cleaning service to scrub your house from top to bottom.  A few hundred dollars to sell a house is well-worth it, don’t let your mess costs you thousands of dollars.

5. It Looks Like Your Home, Not Mine

This one is related to the previous two tips.  Your house is full of stuff that is yours.  When I, the buyer, look around I see your house.  What you want is for me to see “my” house.

You need a buyer to be able to imagine the place as theirs.  You want them to walk around and think about where they will put their vacation pictures and mug collection.

I know you love your family, but all of your pictures hanging up makes the home buyer think of you – no good.  De-personalize the house as much as possible.  Think about what a furniture catalogue looks like.  Those catalogues are set up in a way to ensure that anyone who opens them imagines their life in that room they are looking at.  That’s what you need to aim for.

6. You Stay While I Look at the House

There is a tendency, when showing a home, for the seller to follow the potential buyer around the house and tell them everything that’s great about the place as well as be there to answer any questions.

Don’t do it!  In fact, don't be there at all.

Following the buyer around makes the buyer nervous and they don’t get the opportunity to really look around.  They feel rushed, watched, and they can’t speak to their family about what they like or hate about the place.  When you follow a buyer around you might also be hurting yourself by appearing too eager.  Or you might accidentally let out a piece of information that sours the buyer on the house (“ten years ago our little guy tripped on the steps and hit his head there but he’s OK now…”).

Give people space to talk about what they like or talk smack about the house.  Who cares what they say, they'll either like it or not, your presence can only impact that in a negative way. If they have follow up questions, they will most certainly ask.

7. Your Real Estate Agent Sucks

This one hurts.  You hire a real estate agent and you expect them to bust their hump for you and get your house sold.  After all, they are getting a commission, right?

But not all real estate agents are created equal.

Some look to get your listing and hope it sells itself.  Or they have so many other listings that they can’t devote enough time to you.  What adds to the problem is many agents have you sign a form saying you will only work with them for a period of time and if another sells for x months after they still get a piece of the action.

Get on the agent’s case.  Stay in touch with them and find out what they are doing to move your home.  Call their broker of record, if possible, and let them know you are not happy.  Make sure your real estate agent is working for you.

8. You Place is All Busted Up

Broken house

Why isn’t my house selling? It’s mint!

If your place needs work, that’s one thing.  Every house has its issues.  But if there are big problems with your house then you have to understand that will be reflected in the price someone will pay.  The problems may not even be major.  If the paint job is dull and dirty, a white-wash can do wonders to make the house more attractive and the cost is relatively low.

But if there is more work than a person would expect it leads us to the next point…

9. You Flat-Out Lied in Your Description

First of all, it goes without saying that misrepresenting your home in any way presents much larger problems than simply, 'a buyer may not want to buy anymore'. You leave yourself susceptible to potential (and deserved) legal trouble, so this is not just a suggestion, but flat out common sense.

Being “colourful” or “taking some liberties” in your description is something many home listings do.  But some real estate listings flat-out lie.  Don’t state your house is in “perfect condition” if it’s far from it.  If there is serious work that needs to be done, you must disclose it.

Again, all houses have their warts, but when you lie in your description it ticks off the potential buyer.  You lose all trust and you waste their time.  When a buyer sees a house where the description is way off they ask themselves “what else is hidden and wrong here?”  They are going to think the house is much worse than what they see, and who is to blame them?

10. You are Still Doing Work on It

If you are still doing some major work (or even minor) on the house you have to understand that doesn’t look good to a buyer.  They are looking at a house that is incomplete in some way.  Even if the work sounds like it will be great, they can’t be sure it will turn out well.  If you are the one doing the work then that’s really bad.  A buyer wants to know any work is professionally done and up to code.

I’m not talking a paint job here.  I’m talking about renovations or big repairs.  Either get them done before you put the house on the market, get a pro to do it (with documentation), or understand that your house isn’t exactly “ideal” right now.

11. You Have “Unique” Tastes

I don’t begrudge you having tastes that are out of the norm.  There’s nothing wrong with that – until you want to sell your house!

If your tastes are more eclectic than most people’s then you may be limiting the audience to whom you can sell.  Heck, your interior may be genius in some circles but for other people it may mean doing a lot of work and expense to bring it to their taste.  


While there are a multitude of reasons why your house (or any house) may not be selling, and some of those reasons are driven by external forces, at some point you must ask yourself why some homes are selling and some are not. There are differences, and many can be controlled and/or remedied to provide a more favourable outcome for the seller. 

Don't forget, a house that is easier to sell is so because it is a house that is easier to buy. Think about it.


Adapted from Free From Broke

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