Why can’t I sell my house? Advice on why your property isn’t selling

5 min Read Published: 28 Sep 2021

reasons why your house is not sellingIn the current UK property market it is important when trying to sell your home, that you give yourself the best chance of finding a buyer. With recent evidence showing that only around 50% of properties that come on to the market actually sell, you must pull out all the stops to find that elusive buyer.

Below we set out 5 reasons your house is not selling.

1. You have instructed the wrong estate agent

Not all estate agents are the same and to make sure you have the best chance of selling your property you need to instruct the best agent in your area. It is important that you don't just go for the cheapest agent as there is probably a good reason why they have to cut their fees....they don't sell many houses!

How to find the best estate agent

  • The quickest way to find the best and cheapest estate agent in your area is to use this estate agent comparison tool. It can help you find the best estate agent taking into account their fees, speed at selling houses as well as how successful they've been at securing a property's asking price.
  • It may still be worth checking the local papers and property portals to get a feel for who are the top-selling agents in your area. Count the number of properties each agent has listed in your selected area and price range and this will give you a good feel for who is the top agent. Obviously you need to make sure the top agent is actually selling houses and not just marketing them with little success. You can ask for proof of sales if you invite them round for an appraisal.
  • Invite at least three estate agents to present to you their marketing plan for your property. The marketing plan should include full details of proposed advertising and the property portals where your property will be available to view, as well as an explanation of how they are going to actually encourage potential buyers to consider your property. You need to ask the agent what action they propose to take if your property has not sold in, say, the first month.
  • Ask each agent to provide proof of recent sales of similar properties to yours, together with the sale price achieved. Make sure you obtain the actual dates when these properties were sold and ask how many properties each agent currently has on their books in your area. You can then compare the marketing price of your property with those already on the market.
  • Compare the fees charged and suggested marketing prices for your property and be cautious of an estate agent charging very low fees and/or suggesting a high marketing price. This may mean they are just pushing for your instruction to beat off the competition and may not be the best agent to use. Don't just accept the fee quoted, be prepared to negotiate a lower fee as you will be surprised how much you can save.
  • Don't sign a contract for longer than around 6 weeks as you will want to move on if they can't sell your property. Also don't sign a contract that auto-renews at the end of the period as this can mean that you have extended the contract without you realising.
  • I have written a guide that gives more insight into estate agents and how they work. Check out our article Inside the mind of an estate agent and how to play them.

2. Your property is a mess

Sorry to be so blunt, but you are not going to get top price for your property if it looks like it has just been hit by a hurricane!

How to prepare your house for sale

  • Have a good tidy up, clear all surface areas and put clothes, books and magazines out of sight.
  • If you lack storage space for all your stuff, why not ask a friend or family member if they would store some things for a short period? Alternatively, consider using a storage facility, although this will incur a cost.
  • Do all those little DIY jobs you have been meaning to do. It's worth devoting a couple of weekends to doing these jobs if it makes your property have more appeal when someone comes viewing.
  • Don't be tempted to make a large investment in a new kitchen or bathroom as you are unlikely to get your money back.
  • Tidy up the garden and move wheelie bins to a less visible location, if possible. Consider moving vehicles away from the front of your property when viewings are taking place as it will open up your property and give it more 'kerb appeal'
  • I have written an article on this topic which will give you some hints and tips on how to give your property that "wow factor" - 12 ways to increase the value of your home in a weekend

3. You are marketing at the wrong price

We all think our properties are worth more than all the others in the street but if you want to sell it, then you need to market your property at a competitive price.

Some tips on how to market your property at the right price

  • Carry out some research on the property portals to see the marketing prices of similar properties in your area and set your price accordingly
  • Remember the price shown on the property portals is the marketing price, sale prices are typically around 5% lower
  • It is better to set your price right at the outset, don't be tempted to start high and then lower the price if it doesn't sell. Buyers are wary of properties that have been on the market for a while and then the price is reduced, they will think there is something wrong with the property and maybe not even consider it.
  • If you know your neighbours have their houses on the market, consider pitching your price slightly below theirs to catch the eye of a potential buyer
  • I have written an extensive article How to get the full asking price for your property which covers topics such as setting the original asking price, preparing your property for sale, how to manage viewings and more. It is well worth a read.

4. You have poorly shot or badly presented photographs

The first impression a prospective buyer is likely to get of your property is on a property portal such as Rightmove or Zoopla. It is vital, therefore, that the photographs taken by your estate agent are the best they can be.

How to make your property look great in the photos

  • Be critical of any photos taken by your estate agent and don't be afraid to ask them to retake them if you are not happy
  • Move cars and wheelie bins away from the front of your property before any photos are taken
  • Consider paying extra for upmarket marketing material if your property warrants it
  • Ensure that when the photos are uploaded to the property portals and the estate agents own website they are presented in the correct sequence. For instance, the downstairs cloakroom should not be the first photo seen!

5. You are not getting feedback from your estate agent

It is vital that you are communicating with your estate agent regularly and obtaining feedback on what is happening with regards to the marketing of your property. You should receive feedback on every viewing to understand what people thought of your property and what actions you should take to make it more saleable

Find out from your estate agent how many people actually viewed your property online. If these numbers are low then your marketing price may be too high. If these numbers are high, but with little or no viewings, then the presentation of your property needs to be reviewed.

  1. It’s good to know that you should do some research about the market prices of properties similar to the ones you’re trying to sell to make sure that you can get more potential buyers. My wife and I recently bought a new house, so we’ll need to sell our old one. We don’t want it to be on the market for too long, so we’ll be sure to look further into our options for making sure that we price our house correctly.

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