15 Simple Reasons Why Your House is Not Selling And How You Can Avoid Them

15 Reasons Your House is Not Selling And How You Can Avoid Them
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Why are you struggling to sell your house when it seems like everyone else is selling theirs as soon as it hits the market? Do they know something you don’t? What are you missing? Discover the 15 reasons your house is not selling.

If you’re based in the UK, probably a lot. 

It turns out that 78% of house sellers in the UK fail to sell their houses due to these fifteen common reasons. Common reasons that you can easily avoid with some basic preparation and planning.

The latest UK property market statistics reveal that if your house is not selling it’s likely due to one of the following reasons:

  1. Your asking price is too high.
  2. Your property doesn’t have enough kerb appeal.
  3. Your property is too cluttered (making the rooms look smaller).
  4. Your photographs aren’t good enough.
  5. You don’t have enough photographs.
  6. Your property is not listed in online portals (Rightmove).
  7. Your property listing description is not creating enough desire.
  8. Your listing does not include any floorplans.
  9. Your listing is missing vital keywords.
  10. Your estate agent is not responsive enough.
  11. You’re in a long property chain.
  12. Your property is not easy to mortgage.
  13. You’re listing your property at the wrong time of year.
  14. Your viewings don’t match the expectations of buyers.
  15. Your estate agent isn’t following up properly.

The good news for you is that each and every one of these 15 reasons your house is not selling is easy to avoid or easy to fix. Using our own experience, we will help you to get your house sold.

What To Do If Your House Is Not Selling

If you’re struggling to sell your house, run through the checklist below to identify your problem areas. After following the simple steps to fix them, you’ll see why selling your house needn’t be so complicated after all.

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#1. Is Your Asking Price Too High?

Most commonly, on the top of the 15 reasons your house is not selling is price related. You have to get your asking price right if you want to attract offers. 

Most active buyers (the ones you want to attract) check in on property listing websites daily. They set their search criteria based on what they can afford to buy and often use upper limits to define their search.

Sometimes these upper limits can be purely psychological in nature. For example, setting £200,000 as the maximum price instead of £205,000. 

As the vendor, you are often tempted to add that little bit extra onto your price to give a buffer for the all-important negotiation stage. Before you add in your buffer, you should take a moment to think about the potential psychological barriers and make sure your buffer fits.

Your buffer won’t do you any good if you aren’t getting any offers. 

It’s been proven time and time again that the quickest way to a successful sale is to price your property in relation to other similar properties in your area. Buyers are already researching this information and if your house is perceived to be overpriced, you aren’t going to sell it.

Researching your area is the only way to know for sure what your property is perceived to be worth, although this figure is always firmly in the eyes of the buyer, and there are a few good tools online to help you do this:

In our experience, you also need to price your home according to the condition of the house. If similar types of houses in your area that recently sold for a similar price have all been recently refurbished, but yours needs updating with a new kitchen and bathroom, your home won’t be worth as much.

Of course, the same is true the other way round. So keep this in mind when you decide on the asking price of your home.

#2. Your Property Doesn’t Have Enough Kerb Appeal

Our home from the front
Our previous home lacked curb appeal compared to the larger neighbouring properties.

Lack of kerb appeal isn’t the only reason your house is not selling, but it does help attract more potential buyers to click that allimportant ‘more info’ button. In a world where property viewings are carried out online before any actual visits happen, kerb appeal is vitally important, which is why the lack of it is one of the 15 reasons your house is not selling.

Potentially 25% more important, in fact. In a recent study carried out by Dulux Weathershield, they claim that UK house buyers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a house with an attractive, fresh looking exterior. The easiest (and cheapest) way to spruce up the outside of your property is to give it a fresh lick of paint.

In addition to the relatively inexpensive freshening up of your property’s kerb appeal with a bucket of paint, here’s a few more things you could do to improve its attractiveness and increase those all important viewing requests.

  • Make your door as inviting as you can. Clean it thoroughly with PVC cleaner if it’s a PVC door or give it a fresh coat of paint if it’s wooden. An interesting fact uncovered by Country Life revealed that blue doors are more likely to sell a house.
  • Light up your buyer’s imagination and increase the chance of it selling by fitting some cost-effective lighting that not only adds an element of security to your property but makes it look more attractive to potential buyers too.
  • Clean pathways and drives attract more interest. If you have a pathway or drive, consider hiring a pressure washer (or paying someone to do it for you) and clean them up. 
  • Remove weeds. It almost goes without saying that you should remove any unwanted plants or weeds before photograph day. Equally important to remove them before viewings too. Make sure cracks between paths are not full of weeds.
  • Keep bins out of sight. If you have a small garden or front entrance and you normally keep your bins close to your door, make sure on the day of your property photographs and viewings that you move them temporarily. No one likes to see bins in photographs.

We put together a more in-depth, dedicated article about how to present your property for sale to give you the best chance of selling it here.

We know from experience how important the look of a house is. That’s why, before we put a house on the market we spruce up our front garden. Apart from cleaning facias, guttering and windows, we also pressure wash the drive and path.

Once everything is clean, we set about making the front garden look nice. We trim back any plants, weed the beds and add some colour by planting some nice flours.

We had homes with low maintenance drives. Here we got some nice looking flower pots and added some colourful flowers. These we placed in appropriate places, such as on each side of the entrance door.

At one house we repainted the red garage door to make it look fresh and stand out from our neighbours garage doors. Every home we sold, we got comments about how well our house is presented. This shows that people do pay attention to these things.

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#3. Your Property Is Too Cluttered

It might not come as a surprise that this has made it high up the lost of the 15 reasons your house is not selling. But what does it mean to be too cluttered? Is there a particular point at which clutter turns buyers off your property? 

Strictly speaking there’s no definitive turning point, and our advice is to declutter as much as possible. Keep in mind the key thing you’re trying to achieve when you put your house up for sale. 

You want buyers to be attracted to it, or to be able to imagine themselves in it. You want them to see the potential in how they could make it their home. Having all of your possessions on display interferes with this picture you’re trying to paint. Unfortunately, this is more likely to prevent buyers from seeing the potential.

Declutter your house as much as possible.

If you want to prevent your house from not selling, decluttering is a must. 

Start decluttering your hallway first. Your hallway or entrance is the first thing your buyers are going to see after they enter the property and is your second chance to make a good impression (the first being your front door). 

Make sure everything is tidy. Remove any paperwork, keys, wallets and other personal items that generally tend to accumulate around these areas. Thin down any coat racks so they only contain the coats you need.

Pack away shoes that you aren’t wearing right now and make the hallway feel as spacious as possible. 

Giving the impression of a clean and tidy, well organised hallway will give the buyer the impression that everything else in the house (including repairs and maintenance) is taken care of and organised too. 

Removing the fear of things likely to go wrong with simple organisation is an easy way to increase the chance of selling your house.

Whenever we decided to sell our home, the first thing we did was a big declutter. This means we went systematically through every room and removed anything that didn’t add anything to the room or made it look smaller.

This could be furniture, ornaments, photos or anything else that was lying around without any purpose. We decluttered our wardrobe at the same time, after all, you don’t want to move things you don’t really need.

While some things we would store away, others we got rid off. We would recommend getting rid of anything you don’t really use anymore, as this will reduce your removal costs.

#4. Your Photographs Aren’t Good Enough

Of all the things that you can do to prevent your house from not selling, making sure your estate agent takes the best photographs is one of the few that you don’t have direct control over. There are some things you can do to make sure the photographs are the best they can be however:

  • Choose an estate agent who takes good pictures. You can easily identify those estate agents that take the time and have an eye for taking good pictures as you browse through online property portals like rightmove and others.
  • Stage things so that on the day of photographs, everything looks as good as it can possibly be. For example, clear worktops, add fresh flowers or fill up the fruit bowl. These things add a splash of colour and always look more attractive to buyers.
  • Temporarily move things from room to room to make sure that each room looks bigger and is being displayed in its best possible light.
  • Book your photography session at the right time of day, when the sun is at the right angle to brighten your house up to its maximum effect. Bright rooms always make your house look bigger, so make sure you only take photographs at the time of day that works best to achieve this in your house.

#5. You Don’t Have Enough Photographs

Take good and plenty of photographs!

Taking good photographs is one thing that might be out of your control, but there really is no excuse for not having enough photographs. There is nothing worse when looking for a property to buy to find something that looks interesting at the right price, only to find that the four pictures that are available aren’t very good.

When getting pictures taken by your estate agent, make sure you accompany the photographer around the house and make sure they take multiple photos of each room.

Make a point of asking the photographer how many photographs they take of each room and make a point of making yourself available to move things or adjust things to help them take the best photos possible.

Photographers usually react positively to this kind of offer and building rapport with them in this way will ensure that at the very least, they do their best to take good snaps.

Good and plentiful snaps sell properties.

From our own experience having bought several houses over the years, that a property listing with only a limited number of photos puts us off. We have disregarded many houses without viewing them, because we were wondering what they are hiding.

If there is only a picture of the front of the house, we would assume that the inside is probably in bad disrepair. Or if not all rooms were represented in the pictures we thought that these are probably not in a good condition.

And we won’t be the only ones thinking that way. So it is vital that your property listing has pictures of every single room of your house. The more the better.

#6. Your Property Is Not Listed On Online Portals

The days of taking nice photographs and sticking them in the local estate agent’s window to sell your house are long gone. Over 95% of buyers looking to buy a new house are going to start their search online, so no wonder this is one of the 15 reasons your house is not selling.

When they do, they’re going to start their search at one of the property portals available to them. In the UK, there really are only two property portals so essential to the successful sale of your house, that to ignore them would pretty much ruin your chances of selling altogether:

  1. Rightmove.co.uk
    Rightmove is currently the market leader, receiving 127.5 million visits per month.  
  2. Zoopla.com
    Zoopla says its websites (including Prime Location) and mobile apps attract over 50 million visits per month.

With so many eyeballs looking for their next property on one of these two portals (or more likely both), you simply cannot afford to not be listed on them.

There are others too, like OnTheMarket, and one of the first questions you should be asking your estate agent is ‘where will my property be listed’. If they aren’t listing on these portals, then you need to avoid them.

#7. Your Property Listing Description Is Not Creating Enough Desire

A good listing description is the verbalisation of a dream!

Writing property descriptions and sales particulars really is an art form. Estate agents should be better than anyone else at doing this in a way that creates a sense of desire for your property, no matter what kind of condition your house is in.

Part and parcel of paying them a fee to sell your house is to be sure that they market your house in the most attractive way possible. 

Before you sign any contracts with estate agents, make sure you check their current listings on the online portals and do yourself a favour by taking some time to read their descriptions. If they create a sense of desire with their listings, even when perhaps the property itself is not the most attractive or desirable, then they really are doing a good job.

That’s the kind of skills you need for your property if you want to give yourself an advantage in the property market and sell your house quickly. 

After you make the decision to go with an estate agent and after they let you know that your listing is live, make sure you thoroughly read through the description and make sure it captures the imagination of the user and really sells the potential of your property.

If not, put some pressure on them and make sure they do it right.

#8. Your Listing Does Not Include Any Floor Plans

In our opinion this a big issue so no wonder it’s on our list of 15 reasons your house is not selling.

Your only objective when you market your property for sale is to attract the attention of potential buyers, generate interest in your property with some great product pictures, create a sense of desire for your property with a compelling description and make your buyer take action.

You want to convince them that yours is the house they need and you do that by providing as much information as possible to help them believe that is the case.

One of the key ingredients to this success formula that is often overlooked or not presented is the floorplan of the property. It may not seem important to you or your estate agent but you can be sure it will be important to your buyer.

Make sure your estate agent provides floor plans with their listings. You can easily check this by viewing existing listings they have on the property portals. As a matter of fact they should provide floorplans without asking but always make sure you ask.

Include floor plans in your listing!

Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves in your home and they want to live out their vision when they see your listing and view your property. It is much easier to imagine how you can change a property structurally when you see clear floorplans.

In our experience, a floor plan is the single most useful thing to provide to a prospective buyer. It shows them how the rooms are configured and how they will fit their lifestyle. Without a floorplan it’s almost impossible to understand a house, because the pictures alone won’t tell you where in the house a room is.

Whenever we bought a house, the first thing I looked at are the floorplans. Even without knowing how big the rooms are, it gives you an idea how you can use the rooms.

#9. Your Listing Is Missing Vital Key Words

In the age of the internet, information is found or forgotten on the basis of how structurally correct it is. Big search engines like google and even property portals like rightmove can’t correctly categorise your property if you don’t let them know what you are by defining it clearly in your listing.

If they can’t put your property in the right bucket, then your buyer is not going to be able to find it when they look in that bucket. 

An example of this would be not including how many bedrooms your property has, or how lovely your southfacing garden is in the summer evenings, or maybe even how useful your off-street parking is on weekdays when the streets outside get busy.

Including key information like this in the text description of your property can give your property an extra boost on both google and the property portals if, for example, a prospective buyer searches specifically for ‘south facing garden’ + location + 4 bedrooms.

Make sure you check your listing before it goes live and get your estate agent to include any and all key words like this that you think a buyer may be searching for if you want to sell your house quickly.

#10. Your Estate Agent Is Not Responsive Enough

The one thing buyers don’t like is unresponsive estate agents, hence why it’s on our list of 15 reasons your house is not selling.

Remember, prospective buyers are checking new property listings daily. The ones that are actively in the market for a property are ready to pounce on anything that appeals to them as quickly as they can.

In these circumstances, time is of the essence. 

Unresponsive estate agents may well be bogged down by the sheer volume of work they have, or the estate agent dealing with your request may have taken the day off, or be sick, or for any other reason may not be able to respond to enquiries. 

This might be acceptable to some, but if you really want to sell your house and not end up in the 80% of sellers who can’t sell their house, then you need to make sure before you sign on with an estate agent that it won’t happen to you.

Choose the right estate agent! He will be vital to the whole process.

Some questions you should ask before signing up with any estate agent:

  • How quickly do you respond to enquiries?
  • What method of response do you participate in?
  • What systems do you have in place if the agent dealing with your property is unable to come into work?
  • Will enquiries be dealt with by someone else?

If your potential estate agent cannot give clear and convincing answers to these questions, stay away and find a better agent.

If you’re already working with an estate agent but haven’t yet asked these questions, give them a ring tomorrow and put it to them. You need to maximise any interest from buyers and responding quickly to enquiries is essential to that process.

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#11. You’re In A Long Property Chain

If buyers become aware that you’re in a long property chain, it may well put them off. Buyers, generally speaking, are often very keen to move things forward and start their new life in your old home. 

Any barriers, resistance or lengthy timeframes can put a spanner in the works. Active buyers, the ones who are ready to move, can sometimes be persuaded to buy something else if your sale takes too long to complete.

The best way to avoid this is to be willing to sell your house, even if you don’t have a house to move into yet. 

Renting is one way you can achieve this and get out of any chain you might be caught up in. Of course, the other advantage with renting and not being stuck in a chain is that you become one of those active, highly sought after buyers who can move quickly when the right property comes along.

This gives you leverage, and is one of the strongest cards to play when negotiating the purchase of your new home.

While we have never actually needed move into a rented property to ensure our house is selling, we always considered it. It’s one of those things that you don’t really want to do, but it could be the difference between selling your home quickly or not selling it.

#12. Your Property Is Not Easy To Mortgage

You could have a property that mortgage providers don’t like to offer mortgages on. Some properties, like flats above shops, ex-public houses, houses made from unusual materials or houses with short leases remaining need specialist mortgages.

Most household mortgage providers are unwilling to lend money against these types of property. Unfortunately, of all the things on our list of 15 reasons your house is not selling, this is one that you can’t really do anything to avoid.

All you can do here is check with your estate agent to see whether they think your property would fall into one of these hard to mortgage property groups and if so, you may need to shift your expectations to suit.

Always consider the intrinsic characteristics of your property and account for them!

It could well take longer than you hoped to sell your house but if you do fall into this category, make sure you do everything else on this list so that when those buyers that can make an offer on your property arrive, you have the highest possible chance of turning them into buyers and selling your house.

We encountered this issue ourselves as a buyer. We had an offer accepted on a house which was in a perfect location for our requirements. But after our lender had completed their valuation survey, they told us that they wouldn’t lend us money for this poperty.

The property had an attached garage, which was a single brick building. While this isn’t unusual for garages, the owners built an extension on top of the garage to create another bedroom. The garage walls weren’t strong enough for the additional weight from the new bedroom.

We were aware of the issues, because there were cracks in the garage walls. But we looked into it and thought that we could solve the issue. We weren’t prepared for our lender to refuse to lend us money on the house because of it.

The seller and their estate agent were just as surprised. We had to decide to pull out of the sale, because we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage that we could afford.

Our experience shows that an issue like this can make it very hard to sell your property.

#13. You Are Listing Your Property At The Wrong Time Of Year

Maybe you didn’t expect this on our list of 15 reasons your house is not selling. but, it isn’t a myth that some seasons sells houses better than others. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. 

Take Spring, for example. The sun is out and the flowers are blooming and potential buyers haven’t yet started thinking about their Summer holidays but Christmas and the cold winter months seem long behind them.

Spring is the time for change and buyers are always more active in Spring. Spring always comes out top in surveys and statistics for being the best season of the year to list and sell your house.

You’ll find that Summer and Winter are the worst times to sell because in Summer, families are off on holiday and looking after children. Winter is generally not a good time to sell for a number of reasons; the days are shorter and gloomier and this makes your property look less attractive.

You also have Christmas to contend with, and whilst buyers do try to ‘get in before Christmas’, when it gets too close, everything seems to get put off until the New Year.

List in Spring, avoid Summer and Winter.

We once made the mistake of putting our house up for sale in November. This was a very bad decision because the market had already slowed down and wasn’t likely to pick back up until Spring.

While we managed to sell our house, it took us four months. We only got an offer in March after we had reduced the price. Learn from our experience and put your house on the market in Spring.

If your property is already up for sale, consider removing it all together and then relisting it in either Spring or Autumn. You’ll get a whole new set of eyes and motivated buyers looking to buy their dream home.

#14. Your Viewings Don’t Match The Expectations of Buyers

When you do get viewings, are you meeting the expectations of your potential buyers? If the pictures on your listing were taken when your house was clean, tidy and decluttered and you’ve let things slip back into the ‘norm’ since photography day, you really need to redouble your efforts to smarten things up.

Lots of viewings but no offers points to the underlying problem being specifically related to the property itself. This is good data because you can safely say it’s not down to the price, location or kerb appeal. However, there is still something off with your property when viewers come to see it in person.

House viewings have to be appealing and smooth...

Some possible reasons viewings don’t turn into offers could include:

  • Your house is untidy on viewing day
  • There are some things that get revealed during physical showing that weren’t in your pictures. Could you do something to freshen up those areas?
  • Are there other properties available in your street that could be competing?
  • Do you have pets that may be leaving an unpleasant smell?
  • Are you showing viewers round during ‘busy times’ outside (school runs, weekends, church days etc.) Could you arrange viewings for a different time of day when the street is quieter?

The main culprit is that expectation does not meet reality. Your estate agent should be able to provide you with feedback to help you fill that gap to prevent the same thing happening in future viewings.

In our experience, the feedback you get from the viewings via your estate agent is vital. It can give you an idea of the areas that put buyer off. One of the homes we sold over the years, we had a kitchen diner. However, the dining area was rather small.

Even though it did fit a regular dining table, we often got the feedback that it just wasn’t big enough. While we couldn’t make it bigger, we could rotate the table by 180 degrees. This made the whole space look bigger.

Once we did this, we hardly got any feedback about the dining area being too small. You see, small changes like this can make a difference. You just have be creative to find a solution.

This brings us nicely onto the final (and most essential) point.

#15. Your Estate Agent Is Not Following Up Properly

No matter what reason your buyer has for not putting an offer in on your property, a proactive estate agent should be able to collect feedback from every potential buyer and relay that information back to you.

This gives you the opportunity to identify any problem areas with your property and take action to address them.

Proactive estate agents should not only be restricted to providing feedback after viewings though. They should also be providing you with feedback on why your house is not receiving viewing requests and offering suggestions on how you can fix them.

If your property has been listed for a long time and you’ve had no viewings, then you need to ask your estate agent why. Cross-checking your estate agent’s responses with everything on our list will help you identify and solve your problem.

There is always a reason why your house is not selling and, almost always, that reason has a simple solution. And with our list of 15 reasons your house is not selling, you can quickly find out why and how to fix it.

Author

  • Paul James

    Paul James, is a marketing expert with a passion for property. As well as being a property investor, Paul has also worked within the marketing departments of some of the UK’s leading estate agents. Paul is the founder of Property Road.

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