Seller Wants To Temporarily Withdraw Listing From The Market

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 08 February 2005 16:00

A Realty Times reader writes to ask advice - should she dump her agent because her house hasn't sold?

"We have a very unusual and pricey home currently on the market in Birmingham, AL. We knew from the beginning that it would take a special buyer, and that it might take some time to sell. It's been on the market for a year now, and we've only received one low-priced offer, which was rejected. It's now early February, and I'm wondering whether there would be a benefit to removing the house from the market for a month or so to get it re-listed as a "new listing" to inspire more interest on the part of local real estate agents." -- Concerned Seller

We wrote back:

Would you tell me a little more about the home? What makes it so pricey and unusual? What have you done to make it market-ready? What is your competition like? What has your current agent done to market the home? Why was the buyer low-priced - did s/he provide feedback such as other comparables showing your house as overpriced? How long have you lived in the home? Are you able to lower the price and do any updates to meet current market conditions?

Concerned seller replied:

"Our home is very unusual for the area, which tends to be mostly very conservative, cookie-cutter all-brick McMansions. Our house has a Mediterranean influence, with stucco exterior with a clay tile roof, an enclosed courtyard with pool, and lots of arched windows and doorways. The house was custom-built with lots of high-end amenities, professional-grade appliances, and materials not typical in this area such as Brazilian cherry hardwood floors and cabinets, etched-glass kitchen cabinets, unpolished marble floors in the kitchen, foyer, and laundry room. The master bath floor and double shower is all tumbled marble. There's extensive use of granite countertops, even in the master bath and laundry room. The house has a private outdoor courtyard with a pool on one side, and a golf course view to the rear. The house has three fireplaces, one of which is one of the most appealing features of the home. It's a tall, open fireplace which juts out into the two-story great room, with a stone hearth."

"To get the house ready to sell, we de-cluttered, de-personalized, cleaned up, and took care of any maintenance issues," continues Concerned Seller. "The house was just re-painted inside and out within the past two years. The back was re-landscaped the year we moved in (3 years ago), but the front could use some more landscaping. We request at least 24-hour notice for showings, and when we have time, I really like to get the house as close to "show house" condition as possible before showings, with fresh flowers, soft music, and light refreshments."

"Regarding competition, homes in this price range are often larger, with more bedrooms and baths. However, the house is very special and unique, and well worth the price we're asking, for the right buyer, of course!

"Our current agent was successful in getting us on the front cover of the Real Estate section of the local newspaper (last spring), and has placed the home in featured ads in a local home sale magazine (last spring/summer). She also has the home listed on the virtual home tour site and her personal web site. Last summer she hosted an agent's luncheon at our home, with over 80 local agents visiting our home as well as a few others.

"As far as the offer we received ($300,000 below our asking price of $1,299,000), to be honest, I think they felt that since the house had been on the market for nearly a year, that we might accept a low-ball offer. We countered with a more reasonable proposal, but that's as far as it went. They ended up buying a smaller home on acreage instead.

"The listing expired a month ago or so, and we're now on a month-to-month verbal agreement with the listing agent. At this point we are discussing whether a price reduction or change of agent would be in our best interest. But, going back to the original question I posed, would it be better to simply take it off the market for a bit (a month or so), perhaps with a new agent and possibly even a new price, rather than having the stigma of having a reduced-price home that's been on the market for over a year? Is there an advantage to being "newly listed"?

"Thanks for any advice you can give to me and others in this situation!"

A quick look at the seller's virtual tour revealed a plush Hollywood-style Mediterranean villa overlooking a verdant golf course. Inside, spaces that are too open and too tall with too few furnishings coupled with other areas such as bedrooms that were edited and decorated so perfectly to suit the Old World theme that the lack of personalization made it look more like a model home than a place where people actually live. The immediate impression is of a family having a hard time making this seven-figure showplace work as a home.

We asked:

Have you had people looking at all? Did they offer feedback? Are you acting on the feedback?

Concerned Seller wrote:

"We had a lot of showings in the first few months, at least one or two per week. But recently it's trickled down to once a month or so. The feedback has been generally positive. We do have a smallish master bedroom closet which was mentioned a couple of times. We now leave out some plans that the previous owners had drawn up to turn the exercise room in the master suite into a huge closet."

There's no way to diagnose a situation like this without knowing all the facts, such as the seller's financial stake, ability to sell and/or do improvements, motivations, current market sales and trends, etc., but without invading the privacy of the seller's agreement with the listing agent, we offered the following advice:

It seems as if your Realtor has done what she can to market your home. I love the slide show with over 36 pictures that you have online. However, the market is telling you what it doesn't like, and it's up to you to either believe what it is telling you and fix any problems, or reduce the price. You have already found out that only bargain hunters are willing to fix what they don't like in a house, so unless you fix it, the market will wait you out, just as it is doing.

For example, you already know that the master closet is too small for such an opulent home, so instead of laying out plans for buyers, fix the closet yourself and add it to your marketing as a new asset - "Huge new closet added in Master Suite!" Doesn't that play better than "inadequate closet space can be fixed with architect's plans?" You have to keep in mind what you are saying with what you do and don't do.

That brings us to motivation. The longer the house is on the market, the less urgency other Realtors have in showing it because they assume that it hasn't sold because it is overpriced. There's only one reason homes don't sell - they are overpriced due to condition or location. There isn't a Realtor on earth who wants to waste their time showing a home owned by an unreasonable seller, so that's why your showings have dropped off.

You have to send a message loud and clear that you aren't unreasonable! That your home is worth the price for its location and condition! Start with some fresh updates and a price change that show you do hear what the market says and that you want to sell your home.

Your agent hasn't necessarily run out of ideas - she may believe she's up against a brick wall with you, pardon the pun. Show her you are open to some new ideas and you might see a flood of relief and creativity from her.

That's why we don't advise you to change Realtors when yours has done a good job. The market already knows that your home has been for sale for a year. There's nothing you or a new Realtor can do to make that go away. What you can do is galvanize renewed interest in your home with fresh paint (in a lively gold that will complement your Mediterranean decor), a little staging (put some art on those vast wall spaces) and an attractively lower price (if you are already on month-to-month, sign a new listing agreement.) That gives your agent the tools she needs to move your house.

But remember the market can be cruel. Real estate doesn't always go up in value - sometimes it goes down. If there are other homes in your market that aren't selling, then you might be in a buyer's market where nothing is selling quickly, in which case, the only thing to do is either accept less for the house or wait it out.

You could also be competing with brand new homes where buyers might be getting incentives of some kind, so offer incentives that will make your home and location more attractive than what buyers can build for themselves. Make a huge point of the landscaping, lot choice, views and upgrades you have in this home that buyers would pay a fortune for elsewhere.

You might also consider incentives. Only your Realtor can tell you what legal incentives are allowable in your state, as some states disallow decorating allowances to buyers or bonuses to the selling agent. Other ideas might include paying homeowner association fees or alarm system monitoring for a year with accepted offer, but again, your Realtor will know what will work in your marketplace.

All this can be rolled into a new marketing campaign that is sure to get better results.

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Blanche Evans

"Blanche Evans is a true rainmaker who brings prosperity to everything she touches.” Jan Tardy, Tardy & Associates

I have extensive and award-winning experience in marketing, communications, journalism and art fields. I’m a self-starter who works well with others as well as independently, and I take great pride in my networking and teamwork skills.

Blanche founded in 2008 as a copywriting/marketing support firm using Adobe Creative Suite products. Clients include Petey Parker and Associates, Whispering Pines RV and Cabin Resort, Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS®, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Prudential California Realty, MLS Listings of Northern California, Tardy & Associates, among others. See:, and

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