My house hasn’t sold – Should I take my home off the market?


I recently wrote a post about lowering the price of your home. This got me thinking about a similar topic that we hear from sellers quite often these days. If your house has been listed for a number of months but hasn’t sold, should you take it off the market now and re-list it later, or should you simply continue marketing the home. Every situation is different, but I’ll outline a variety of factors to consider when making this decision. Our general guidance is that a consistent, sustained marketing campaign is better than bringing a property on and off the market numerous times. Remember, your house isn’t going to sell when off the market!

  1. Real estate is seasonal – Whether we are in a strong or weak market, real estate is highly seasonal. More homes are sold in the spring/summer than in the winter. It can be tempting to take a property off the market during the slow times, but we believe it is a mistake because of the disruption it causes to the marketing and exposure of your home. There are still buyers looking during the holidays, and they are more likely to be serious buyers, not casual lookers. Why lose the opportunity to market to them?
  2. Make sure it has been on the market long enough – In today’s market, it does take time to find a buyer. If you are serious about selling a home, I would allow up to six months to receive an offer. The average amount of time is far less than that in Seattle, and it will sell much quicker if your pricing is accurate, but you do need more time to find a buyer these days. From our perspective, if you take the home off the market after 60 days, you haven’t given it a full chance to be sold.
  3. It only takes one buyer – Even in the slowest market, it only takes one person to buy your home. We prefer to keep the property on the market consistently to make sure that it is seen when the right buyer comes along.
  4. Where do you believe prices are headed? – It is hard to predict when prices rise and fall. If prices are headed down, it may be beneficial to sell faster to get a higher price. If prices are headed up, maybe you wait a bit. It is impossible to predict exactly what will happen, so don’t overanalyze the situation. If your life circumstances require you to sell, our recommendation is consistent, sustained marketing of the property, rather that taking it on and off the market.
  5. You will lose the benefits of ongoing marketing exposure – When you list a home, you gain awareness among buyers and agents that your house is for sale. People view your websites, see your signs, take your flyers and visit the home in person. Some of those people are probably still pondering a purchase of your home, sometimes taking weeks or months to decide. When you take it off the market, these unseen prospects will disappear and move on to other properties.
  6. Don’t ignore your holding costs – Say you can’t sell your property listed for $500,000 in the winter. Due to seasonality, you believe that you could get $500,000 by taking it off the market and re-listing in May.  Make sure to do the math on how much your mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and maintenance will cost you to wait that long. Sometimes you may want to sell at a lower price in the winter to avoid holding costs.
  7. Rent your place – This is one instance where it may make sense to take your home off the market. If you find a quality renter and their rent enables you to continue to own the home comfortably, this can be a good solution. It is generally more difficult to sell a home that is occupied by renters, so think carefully about lease duration in situations like this.
  8. Re-list after rehab – This is another instance where it can make sense to take your property off the market. Say you listed your home for three months. You had lots of showings, and 80% of the showings told you that your kitchen was terrible. Listen to the feedback, take it off the market, rehab the part of the home that is preventing a sale, then bring it back on the market with new pictures highlighting the changes.
  9. Make it seem like a new listing – MLS listings all track how long a property has been listed for sale. It is true that there is more excitement and interest in a property when it is first listed. Agents may suggest to take the property off the market to reset the “days on market” time, making it appear like a fresh, new listing. (In Seattle, your property must be off market for 90 days before the “days on market” is reset.) We are not sure that the additional interest is worth the time it remains off-market. Besides, most agents will remember the previous listing if they regularly pay attention to that neighborhood.
  10. Analyze your price – Sometimes you simply need a price reduction to get a house sold. Be honest and analytical using comparable properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood. If you haven’t done this analysis in a few months, it is time to revisit the price.