As a Realtor™ that specializes in selling expired listings, I would like to share the 10 biggest reasons that a home doesn't sell and the key steps that need to take place to re-package your home to come back to the market.  


How do I know this information or am qualified to give advice?

 I have sold over 200 homes in the last 3 years, about 25% of them were homes that were either expired listings or that the clients had decided to take them off of the market for one reason or another, normally because the owners were frustrated with the lack of activity for their property.  I have been in real estate for 23 years, and I have an extensive marketing background, so when I look at a property I am aware of the market conditions surrounding the property and what we need to do to sell the home for top dollar.  Believe it or not, most of these properties we sell without changing the price! 

So with that, let's get started!  Here are the 10 reasons a home doesn't sell, and the simple ways to change that expired listing into a SOLD sign for top dollar, and move to your next home! 

Reason #1 - The Home is Too Cluttered

OK, this one can be a sensitive subject.  You and your family have been and are living in your home.  There are things that you need everyday.  However, we employ strategies in order to help you live in your home while you are selling it.  Remember, if we do this right then the inconvenience won't take that long.  

For example, on the kitchen countertop we recommend only 1 thing to be left out, 2 things max! Like coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc.  If we don't have cabinet space to put everything else away then we bring a tub and place the items in there and set in the garage.  For showings and open houses they are put away in the tub and the tub is placed in the garage.  

Collections and items of value that you love, can detract from a room - so placing them away in a safe place is very helpful to making your home show better! Remember, you are moving anyway so why not prepare now? 

We always take 5 minutes and walk through a property with the owner and many times they are willing to make simple changes in order to help their property sell! 

Here is an example of 2 pictures of the same home:

Example of a Kitchen That Needs De-Cluttering
This is a very cluttered kitchen (listing was not from the Stevenson Team) Picture source Zillow
Same Kitchen but Decluttered, Staged, and Professionally Photographed
Same Kitchen After The Stevenson Team Re-Listed the Home and Decluttered the Home-Sold for Full Price within 48 Hours

Reason #2 - The Pictures in the Marketing of the Property are of Poor Quality.

90% of the buyers we work with refuse to see the home they actually purchase because the pictures are so poor.  After we insist they must see it they walk inside and say to us "Wow, I had no idea - this feels way different than the pictures I saw online." Dark pictures, cluttered spaces, fuzzy and out of focus photos can kill a listing quickly! Remember that it is an emotional purchase and when a potential buyer sees your home online it is with the idea that they can start seeing themselves living there.  We want one spouse emailing the other and saying "WE MUST SEE THIS HOME!". 

That is why every listing we take we spend a lot of money on professional photography, and it shows.  What is surprising is that the home sellers almost always didn't know what they were missing until they see our photos.  

So why doesn't all agents use professional photography? It is because they either don't know anyone or they don't have the money to do it. The average agent spends less than $200 on their listings - for us, we spend normally 1% of the cost of the home investing into the marketing of the home, and the results show as we sell our homes and normally within 1% of asking price. 

Here is the same home but the first picture (not listed with the Stevenson Team) without professional photography and the 2nd photo (listed with The Stevenson Team) with professional photography:

Home Not Listed with The Stevenson Team - Not Professional Photography - Source: Zillow
Professional Photography Makes a Huge Difference!
Same Home Listed By The Stevenson Team Utilizing Professional Photography



Reason #3 - The Home is Smelly.

Again, this is a sensitive one. Sometimes owners don't understand this.  You may love smoking cigars, and the smell that remains, however buyers don't and it is an immediate buyer turnoff.  I remember when my husband was on a new fitness regime and he was always cooking catfish in our home, it smelled terrible, but he didn't really smell it after awhile. Now we weren't selling our home, but I had to tell him to stop with the constant fish smell.  Cat boxes and pet smell can be really difficult too.

Recently I took some buyers out to look at a home.  The home was perfect for their needs and I knew it was the one for them to buy.  The homeowner must have burned some incense before our showing and it was so strong it burned the back of our throats.  We immediately left.  A day later I was following up with them and my buyer said to me, "I know that the last home we saw is in a great neighborhood that we would like to be in, but we couldn't even see it because it smelled so bad.  My wife refuses to go back." I called the listing agent and let them know of the feedback, but this seller lost a really good opportunity. 


Reason #4 - There are Pets in the Home. 

Before I elaborate on this one, I need you to know that I LOVE pets.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them....Cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, they are my friends (not fond of snakes, rats, or ferrets).  I have dogs that I have rescued and fostered, and I donate to animal rescue programs.  So I am NOT anti-pet! However, when you come to show a home and there is a dog barking in the home, it is one of the biggest turnoffs.  Many agents won't show your home.  I see listings comments all the time, "DON'T GO DIRECT, DOGS ON PROPERTY AND THEY WILL BITE." I think to myself, "Ah, now that sounds like a place I want to call home...." Dogs are not the only one, some people don't like cats - either they are fearful or they have allergies.  

At the Stevenson Team we employ a few strategies in order to help our clients with pets sell their homes.  For dogs, we have several places that have day daycare at a reduced price for our clients.  Sometimes we have our team go there and one walks the dog while the other person show the property.  If the owner is home we recommend for them to take their pet with them.  For cats it is a bit more difficult, as they normally are not fond of car rides.  If we can sequester them to a small area (like the laundry room) we can take a picture of the laundry room and leave it on the door and explain that there is a pet there.  However, it is far, far better to not have them in a home at all.  

Reason #5 - The Home is Dirty.

Nothing turns off a buyer faster than looking at a dirty home.  Think of it this way, if you went to a car dealership to see your "dream" car and you walk up to the vehicle on the showroom floor and it has dirt and bird droppings all over it, and then you open the door to find McDonald's wrappers and cigarette butts in the ashtray you would run as fast as you could from that car and dealership.  It is the same with homes.  Having a deep cleaning, including windows and carpeting can make a huge difference on selling time and sales price.  It shows that you cared about your home. 

At The Stevenson Team, we provide and help coordinate companies that can help in this area! Trust me, it makes a HUGE difference in the time you are on the market and the price you will get for the home! 

Reason #6 - The Home Cannot Be Shown. 

Believe it or not, if a buyer can't see it they won't buy it for market value.  When you limit the availability to show it, you limit the amount of qualified buyers coming through your door.  We recently had a listing and the client told us that we could only show her home during the day between 8:30 and 5:00 Monday thru Friday.  The problem is that most buyers are working during that time and wanted to see her home on the weekend or after 5:00 (this was a home we were selling during the summer where it stayed light later).  We recommended that she allow weekend showings, but she just said "I am not changing my life to sell my home." However, when you are selling your home you are changing your life.  After 60 days of being on the market with limited showings she finally allowed us to show on the weekend.  The people who bought her home came through on a Saturday morning! 

Remember, if you limit your availability to limit your buyers as well. If we do this right, the inconvenience shouldn't be too long. 

Believe it or not this is a real showing comment for a home that someone is trying to sell: 

Now it is common to send proof of funds or a pre-approval to see a home, especially in a HIGH price point, which  we did.  Then the listing agent sent this to me:

Now, is this agent doing a service to their clients?  Absolutely not! As I am writing this the listing on the home was cancelled after more than 1200 days on the market! (And for the record, our client had up to $13,000,000 for a home) - lost opportunity for the seller for sure, and if this happened to us we know it has happened to others.  

Reason #7 - The Home Is Dated

Many of the homes we sell are older and many have not been updated to today's needs of the buyer.  If my owners have lived in their home for a long time, they don't see it - however, in a buyers eyes they are just thinking that it is going to need a lot of updating which means money for them, and a lower sales price for our sellers.  Some buyers don't have the money necessary to update a home.  

Sometimes if a seller is unable to do anything about it, with some clever staging we can minimize the issue to the buyer.  That is why, at The Stevenson Team, we offer complimentary staging for all of our listings! It can make a huge difference.  Here is an example of a home with a dated dining room - it was the first thing people would see when they came into the home, and while the rest of the home was updated in the buyer's mind it is an immediate turnoff.  We removed the wallpaper, draperies, and chandalier - re-painted the room, removed the railing in the hallway, installed an updated chandalier and staged it - The result?  Multiple full price offers within 48 hours of going on the market! 

Dining Room That Was Dated
Dining Room that was dated and needed to be updated
Same Dining Room After Updating and Staging - Cost $500


Reason #8 - Deferred Maintenance.

If a buyer comes and looks at your home and there is a huge water stain from a leak on the ceiling, they are immediately thinking that there is more that they will find as they dig deeper, and that results in dollar signs in the buyers eyes.  Regardless, you will be disclosing any issues with the home, but a buyer is better able to accept it if you have repaired it correctly.  

As a licensed contractor, I am able to help our clients be able to fix any issues with their home correctly, quickly, and for low cost which makes a huge difference! 

Reason #9 - No Marketing Plan.

When we take a listing we create a custom plan to get as many qualified bodies through the door.  This takes skill and expertise. Besides the professional photos we discussed above, we do many, many more things to bring real buyers to the door.  It takes no talent or skill to take a few photos and pop them onto the MLS.  For us we build a plan, and we share that plan with our sellers.  Things like custom websites for our clients highlighting their home, blogging, social media advertising, extensive listing syndication, search engine optimization, direct mailers, newspaper publications, door hangers, and MORE! It makes a huge difference to get a lot of activity for a home! We spend a lot of money marketing our homes and it shows.  It is funny how many calls I get from other agents asking us "How did you do that??". 

Here is an example of marketing we did for a home that resulted in 130 showings and multiple offers after being on the market for over 200 days with minimal showings and no offers, and we actually increased the selling price by $10,000! Click Here to see an example of our marketing. 

Reason #10 - It Is Priced Too High.

This is really in last place when I look at a property.  Too many agents will claim a listing didn't sell because of the price, however in my experience it is not the price but one of the other items above.  However, if one of the items above is an issue it will result in sales price. When I look at a home, I know the market so well that I have a general idea of what the price should be, and then I look at the demands in the market place as well as overall availability of similar homes. Once I am able to walk the home with the owner, I can tell them pretty definitively what their sales price should be. I don't want to be priced too low to leave money on the table, or too high to not get interest - but I want to be priced right to market.  That is something we do extremely well.  

That's it!  I hope you found some value out of our list of tried and true ways to take an expired or cancelled listing to sold!! 

If you would like for us to come and do this exercise with your home, for free and without any obligation please CLICK HERE and enter your information or contact us at (714) 749-2179.  

My biggest message is don't lose hope, but come up with a winning strategy to have a SOLD sign on your home quickly!! 

Mark and Heather Stevenson are the team leaders for the Stevenson Team, a proud part of Reliance Real Estate Services. Being leaders in real estate for the last 23 years, and having lived in Corona for the last 13 years, they are a dynamic team you can trust! They are in the top 1/2 of 1% of all agents nationwide, and have all 5 star ratings from their clients that you can see HERE. If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate, call Mark and Heather at (714) 749-2179 or click HERE and they will be in touch with you quickly!