This is Why Your House Isn’t Selling – Here’s How to Finally Get Your House Sold

You’ve had your house on the market for a while now and you’re asking yourself “why isn’t my house selling?”

People sniff around but no one is biting.  What’s going on?!?

Yes, the market may have a lot to do with it but houses do sell so there’s probably more than the market at play here.

Keep reading and you just might see why your house isn’t selling so you can finally get your house sold.

11 Reasons Why Your House Isn’t Selling and How to Finally Get Your House Sold

Why isn't my house selling?

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.

You 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.  Cash in hand may be better than waiting and having the market go down further.

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’s being sold and ask yourself if the 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 neighborhood 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 spruce up inexpensively and the return could mean 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 then 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

Why your house isn't selling

Can you figure out why this house can’t sell?

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 then a potential buyer won’t see the awesomeness, they will see the dirty toilet and be skeeved.  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.

I know some of you are reading this and are saying there’s no way someone would sell their house with it being messy.

You’d be wrong.

I’ve seen houses where there was laundry all over the place and other places where I wouldn’t want to touch the walls.  And these weren’t “fixer-uppers,” foreclosures, or short-sales.  These were people who were legitimately looking to sell their house.  Really.  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 homebuyer think of you – no good.  De-personalize the house as much as possible.  Think about what a furniture catalog looks like.  Those catalogs are set up in a way that anyone who opens them imagines their life in that room they are looking at.  That’s what you need to aim for.

Related: Take a look at some mortgage and re-finance rates in your area.

6. You Stay While I Look at the House

There’s 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 that!!  That’s what the agent’s job is.

Following the buyer around makes the buyer nervous and they don’t get 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 as long they want to buy it, right?

True story – when we were selling our co-op we stayed and showed our place to those that were interested.  We got some interest but not a lot.  A friend told us it was a mistake to stay in the home while they looked.  We started letting people look on their own while we waited outside for a bit.  We started to get more return calls and repeat looks.  Really.

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 bosses, 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 warts.  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

Being “colorful” or “taking some liberties” in your description is probably something most house listings do.  But some real estate listings flat-out lie.  Don’t call your house “mint” if it’s far from it.  If there is serious work that needs to be done then you have more than a “fixer-upper.”

Here’s the deal, all houses have their warts (trust me, they do).  And we all want our house to sell.  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.

I can’t tell you how many houses we saw that said they were four bedrooms but were really three with a big closet as a fourth.  Or there was a room that basically had some divider.  Or a couple of rooms were a converted attic where you had to duck in places.  You get the picture.

10. You’re 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 that you can sell to.  Heck, your interior may be genius in some circles but for other people it may mean doing a lot of painting and renovation.  Take a look at your home and honestly ask yourself if it looks like most of your neighbors.

True story, part II – We were checking out a house that was in our price range and was in the neighborhood we were looking at.  It was a nice sized place that had what we required, for the most part.  One big problem, the owner seemed to be stuck in the 80’s circa Miami Vice.  Just about all the walls have some sort of black striped theme going diagonal.  The kitchen cabinets were black Formica.  We just couldn’t see ourselves having to re-paint every wall, strip the wall paper, and put in new cabinets.  Not for the price they were asking.  Know what?  That house has been for sale over a year now at least.

If You’re a Serious Buyer These Things Could Be Gold

If you’re shopping for a house then by all means use the reasons I listed above and try to get the price on the house you want lowered.  Just be able to justify your reasons when you tell the owners or the real estate agents why they need to lower their asking price.


You may not realize that you are sabotaging your chances at selling your house.

Take a look at your house like it isn’t yours.  If you can’t do that find a friend that will give you an honest opinion.  Ask friends and family if they know someone in real estate that will give you an impartial opinion.  You have to put yourself in the mind of the buyer.

If you can’t figure out why your house isn’t selling then seriously go through these reasons again and honestly ask yourself if any apply to your situation.

With a few changes you may be able to finally get your house sold!

What other reasons can you think of to answer the question “why isn’t my house selling?”

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Published or updated May 5, 2015.


  1. #15 You’re forgetting to look at your local market to see what your buyers are actually looking for.

    I live in a popular neighborhood in a town with one of the lowest foreclosure rates in the nation. Although common advice tells you to paint your walls white and keep things neutral, I find houses that sell well in my neighborhood are often painted cheery colors and have lots of “character.” (But, yes, they are in good repair and spotlessly clean.)

    People who are attracted to my quirky neighborhood aren’t looking for a vanilla box. If they were, they’d buy a McHouse out in the suburbs.

    Each market is different and it’s important to find out what people are looking for in your neighborhood.

    Of course, you realize, home selling is such an emotional issue that the people who most need your good advice will never take it, don’t you? 🙂

    • Good point Pamela. Look at your neighborhood and see what works! If the houses that sell fast have garden gnomes then get one. If, like you say where you are, cheery colors are better, then consider a paint job.

    • Absolutey agree! One area everyone will actually like that wood paneling wall and camo wallpaper and the closer you get to the city bring on the quarts and seemless showers and LED Lights along with new large tiled floors in gray slate please. I can have a home in town 1 and I used to think that home would sit forever, but now I actually look for that style home in that area. They sell! However, move that house to the city and it will sit on end no matter the price.

  2. No Debt MBA says:

    We saw one house when we were looking that had taken the “paint everything neutral” idea too far. They’d taken an early 90s tan/beige and painted everything that color. Walls and trim. It was awful. If they’d only painted the trim a bright white the place might have been saved, but it looked awful.

  3. The house we bought was on the market for 9 months. At first they’d tried to get every penny back that they put into it. They also didn’t freshen up the paint. So the listing got stale. By the time we saw the place they had dropped their price $40,000 but it was still about $30,000 too much. They did the beige thing, save for the master bedroom and bathrooms which helped given the old colours were random and not appealing. Once the house dropped $30k more, we put an offer in and got the house. We’re now in the process of adding colour to the walls!

    • You can add whatever color you want once it’s yours to live in, but if you’re selling you better keep it conservative and similar to what’s selling in your neighborhood.

  4. I think we saw the same black formica kitchen cabinets when we were looking several years ago. 😉 We were just shocked to see how many houses we looked at were so guilty of many of these things on your list. It’s not really a surprise when they’re not selling then.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Hey do you live near me?!?

      I get that it’s hard to see your own house through another’s eyes. But when your house isn’t selling you really have to start to look at why. It isn’t always the market.

  5. This is a great post! We are really working on our curb appeal. We’ve done little things so far and it has already transformed the front of our home!

    • Glen Craig says:

      Investing a few dollars to make your home look a little nicer can really reap huge dividends for you in being able to sell.

      What little things have you done?

      • Hi Glen,
        We are currently looking at a beautiful house in the mountains, with amazing views! It’s on 5 acres, but has little to no curb appeal, and the inside in full of antiques. While I like antiques, it is a little TOO full of them. LOL
        My questions is, it’s been on the market for over a year now and we can’t figure out why? Only other thing I can think of is that it has vinyl siding. Do buyers really hate vinyl siding that much, or could it be the lack of curb appeal and clutter?


  6. If house sellers in the market saw this list, they’d have probably closed sales on their houses within the week 🙂 Curb appeal cannot be emphasized enough, I think in this case, first impressions do really matter! So simple and practical tips and one is on his way to selling their house…thanks for sharing

    • We live in a 4 bedroom house, 1 ensuite to master bedroom, 3 more bedrooms, built 80 yrs ago so big. 2 sitting rooms, dining room, utility room, cloakroom. Separate Bathroom.
      Side terrace outside kitchen to eat if wanted. 100 foot mature garden with Hot tub and changing room. Large single garage with electric fob to open.
      Most houses sell for £600,000. All three of our buyers, all put in confirmed in writing bids.
      Buyer 1 wanted to make it bigger, couldn’t without spending 150000, pulled out
      Buyer 2 put in offer, didn’t know what had been offered before, pulled out after seeing next door were knocking down walls down stairs to make Family Room
      Buyer 3 had been around for 4 months & was renting. They offered less so we split the difference eventually agreeing £567000. We had a survey by previous sellers (structural) said house has no real problems. They pulled as when we had the loft converted to master bedroom it was fireproofed and electrical fire alarms on each floor. The old ceilings are part of its character as are the doors and their handles, it would kill an 1930 house. It’s in beautiful condition, wooden floors down stairs and lovely carpets upstairs, these are neutral..the fron garden is beautiful and has often been commented on.
      I am now too distraught to go any further.

  7. These are great tips. These are VERY common mistakes. I think sometimes people ask too much for their home, because they never knew how much it would cost them to sell it and they just want to break even, though they may not be able to.

    I would add, from what I have noticed over the years, too often people put a for sale by owner sign on a dead end street (or at least low traffic street) and expect the calls to start pouring in. You have to do some work! If you want to sell quick, you may have to lower your price and actually use an agent.

  8. Last year, I heard that my friend was selling her 5 year old house and lot. And she had a really hard time in selling it, that’s why I offered her a help, I asked her if I can post her house in social media accounts and within 2 days there are lots of inquiries about her house.

  9. My house isn’t selling: Because it’s now priced 17% below average price per squaee foot for area. It’s 600,000 below initial asking price. It’s a historic home on 4 acres with 7000 sq. feet. appraiser and 100% of lookers adore it. It’s a $950,000 home at a very very very very bargain price. Who the hell has 950,000 to spend on a house. That’s why it isn’t selling after 1 year on the market. One million dollar house sold in neighborhodd in the last year. Overbuilt. Yes, but geez it was the first school in the area 200 years ago and the last owners put a milllion dollar renovation into it. Also 1one in 200 qualified buyers I read are specifically looking for an historic property with NO COMPS. Even the appraiser said–too bad—no comps.It’s at appariser price. None of the reasons you list are why this house isn’t selling. The most spectacular property in Ph. in the last year didn’t sell—It was auctioned and no one would buy it.-White elephant. Add white elephant and overbuilt for the neighborhood to your list of why it isn’t selling. The maintenance costs on my home must appear daunting to a buyer compared to other homes also. 4 acres. Really? Who wants to maintain 4 acres when everyone else has 1?

  10. We have had our house on the market for nine months, numerous showings but no offers. Three open houses, two in the winter and one in spring with hardly anyone that came to the showings. We have lowered the price twice. Since it’s been on the market we have repainted the entire house inside and out, installed a new furnace/AC, new roof, gutters, soffits, screen door, updated the bathrooms. Our house is always clean, decluttered and depersonalised. We’ve even done landscaping and had a new driveway and front porch put in. We don’t know what else to do, to just get one offer.

    • You are going through exactly what I am going through ,we did the same updates and it has been on the market 10 monthes .
      Looking for an answer .

      • It my believe people want the shack and want it cheap. I find nicer homes take way longer to sell. I have seen shit holes sell fast! My house is a beautiful character home. Well maintained. Having same problem selling it yet a house less than half the size sold just under asking for almost as much.

  11. I have a FSBO home and we are sitting. At one showing the buyers’ realtor said “you know you have to pay the full 3%, that’s why you haven’t sold!” Then he wanted me to call and list with him. We have covered everything on this article list above, it comes down to broker reciprocity. If you are not listed with a broker, incoming brokers don’t think your home is vetted, they feel they will have to work harder and therefore steer clear. I have a lawyer for doc review, house has appraised and was inspected. Realtors just don’t want to show if not represented by another realtor. It’s a club and a way to keep themselves employed!!!! Not very honorable, or ethical if my house shows as pictured and is what a client is looking for.

    • I think you are right. We live in a semi-rural neighborhood where even agent-listed homes sit and sit and where we’ve had many distressed sales, but little by little all the houses do sell, except our FSBO. Our sq ft price is below everyone else and we have met all the above suggestions. So, while location does play a big part, I do think buyers and their agents avoid us because we are FSBO.

  12. Help! I’ve been trying to sell my condo for over 3 years (not consecutively, I’ve taken it off the market for a few months here and there), and not one offer! People don’t like the outside of my building because it is not “pretty” enough, but they will buy prettier ones across the street that are smaller, have 1 less bathroom, all original fixtures, and are MORE expensive than mine! I am on my second realtor, and I am following all of their advice, and all of the things that you have said too. Other realtors rave about my house, saying it shows really well. They even told my realtor that they advised their clients that mine was the best bang for their buck, but they STILL bought across the street! I don’t know what else to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • I think it is a realtor game. If it was their place it would be sold! Also they would be asking more money for it. Good luck! I am sick of the whole process. I see realtors sell their place for way over market value in a short time. They work together on the properties they want to sell

  13. This is a great article – I agree with your list. However, I would like to add to your list the following:
    1. Pungent odors – smelly cats, dogs, pets in general; mildew or moldy smell, especially in the basement; cooking/frying food especially fish or strong spices; heavily scented candles, room deodorizers and fresheners. (or everything combined in one house… yuck!)
    2. Cracked foundation – this is never a good sign. A bulging or buckling wall is a problem with the structure and may need the attention of a structural engineer and/or might be a costly repair.
    3. Sagging or “spongy” floor – also never a good sign. This is a source of a leak which can come from a shower, running toilet, excess moisture, damaged pipe, etc.
    4. Pest infestation – immediately call a pro to to take care of this problem in your home1

    • Smells are a big one. We have 3 cats and 3 litter boxes and I am not certain what to do once we decide to sell our home. Put the boxes in the garage and take the cats out somewhere while we are showing the house, probably. Cooking smells offend people too. Nothing “exotic” while house is on the market!

  14. This is a great article! We have had our townhouse on the market for almost 3 months and only investors have made offers. Very low offers at that. It’s very insulting because we have painted, put brand new wood floors in and did a great job at our curb appeal. We have lowered the price once already and we can probably lower it one more time but it seems that only investors are even interested in our neighborhood so they can rent the townhouse. We’d love a first time home buyer or a small family to buy this house. The listing has been put all over social media and you can tell people are looking but no one wants to buy it. We have had about 1 showing per week, sometimes 2. We put most of our belongings in storage and we clean very well every showing. Our feedback always say “very clean, shows well, staged well”. What else can we do? Help!

  15. We have the problem more and more homeowners are going to begin facing. Too high taxes!!! Our government is imprisoning us to our homes from ever selling them to move to another home because of downsizing, job change or size-of-family-change requiring you to move.

    Sadly, there isn’t anything we can do.

  16. 5 of 11 … Thank you so much for the tips, I`m trying to sell my house for over a year … This article will help me a lot, thank you one more time 🙂

  17. Timothy Garrett says:

    So what do you do if you have TONS of showing requests and have had over 5 offers, and THREE than went into escrow / closing, but fell out because of buyers cancelling. The reasons have nothing to do with the house from what we are told. Buyers pulled out because of finding out they have cancer, or had a family emergency, or just seem to be flaky overall. Then what?

    • Do you ask for good faith money, we had to do that it was a 1000$ maybe try to weed out people wasting your time ,
      Also check for pre approval on loan. Its a full time job trying to sell a home. Goodluck

  18. We have been trying to sell out house for a while now. People say that the house is beautiful and the outside is an oasis. The only negative is that we live by an interstate. Any suggestions on what we can do. The interstate sits down lower than where our house is and we have nicely landscaped berms all along the long driveway leading up to the house. You can see the interstate and hear it when you pull up to the house. You can’t hear it from the inside of the house or in the back yard area where the pool and waterfall noises drown out the traffic noise.

  19. Ive done a lot of fixing and updating to my house and it’s been 9 months and have had a lot of showings but no offers even though price has dropped 3 times. They keep saying things like “we’re just starting to look…” Or “It’s a really nice house but we want a ranch” so why did I waste my time and energy to make the house and yard and everything look so perfect for them to look at my house that they don’t really want to begin with. There’s a very small market for a house like mine it seems because many of the other houses around us for sale are either way below or way above our price. So do I spend more money on more fixing and renovating at this point or just keep dropping my price until someone bites?

  20. Definitely in my situation was #1 the killer issue. I had my property on the market for 1 year waiting for $470K and I had to come down to a realistic $430K.

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