Not All Listings Sell

bathroom vanityThere is a little known fact in real estate circles: not all listings sell.

That’s right.

Despite Herculean efforts sometimes a house just will not sell. At least, not during the initial listing period.

My practice is to request a listing period of six months. I figure that’s long enough. If the house is priced competitively to the market and it’s in good condition, it should sell. Someone should come forward with an offer the seller is willing to accept and move on. Sadly, this is not always the case.

I recently lost a listing that would have resulted in a nice paycheck. It was in a great location. Prices in the neighborhood supported what I thought was a competitive price. The only downside was the condition of the house. It was built in the early 1980s and it still had the look of an early 1980s house. Lots of wall paper in a lot of different designs. The kitchen and baths were  original and the flooring was in decent shape but a bit worn and dated.

In other words, it was a house that most people would have jumped on in a heartbeat if it had been updated.

Now, I understand the resistance to updating a house. It costs money.

A new kitchen with granite or Silestone® counters and stainless steel appliances with cherry cabinets is expensive. Hell, the materials are expensive and the labor is probably three times the cost of the materials. Yet, it’s what buyers want. Especially buyers in the higher price ranges.

Ditto bathrooms. Nice gleaming fixtures and attractive vanities and medicine cabinets with pretty ceramic floors.

Wallpaper is so yesterday. In fact, wallpaper (and paneling, too) is something that was popular at one time and is decidedly unpopular now.

As some sales people would say, “You’re selling the sizzle. Not the steak.”

Eventually, someone may come in with a low ball offer factoring in what it would cost to update a house. Unfortunately, the seller sees that as an insult. After all, they’ve been living in the house for decades and they’ve liked it just fine.

The sad thing is that even if the house is  decluttered and “staged” so it looks nice there is only so much someone can do.

So people come and look at the house and the feedback is:

– Liked the location but too much work to do in order to move in.

– My client wanted something more turnkey in this price range.

– Too much work.

So, it went for several months until the owner finally realized that he needed to put some money into the house in order to get a price he would be happy with.

Will he get a price that justifies the expense? It’s doubtful he’ll get a 100% return on the investment in improvements but it might make him feel better in the end.

In the meantime, the listing has been withdrawn from the market. The listing didn’t sell.

Hey, it happens.



About Ken Montville

Ken Montville is a Realtor® and Associate Broker with RE/MAX United Real Estate in the beautiful Maryland Suburbs of Washington, DC. He has been selling nice homes since 1999. Way back in the 20th Century.

When Ken Is not doing the real estate thing he can be found all over social media in places too numerous to mention and he listens to jazz, reads a little (mostly non-fiction), hangs out with the Rotary Club of College Park, MD and can be found blogging at