7 reasons your home won't sell

This post was written using a transcript from Tony's April 2023 podcast. It’s been edited for clarity.

PAUL POULSEN: Tony, sometimes I'll scroll through MLS and look at different houses that are available on the Sunshine Coast. Sometimes I see houses that they're only on for a day or two before they sell, and other ones sit for weeks or maybe even months. What is the difference between a house that sells, like, the first day and one that sits on the market for months without selling?

TONY: If someone has listed their house and it's sold two hours later, so if someone listed their house at 10:00 AM and it's sold by 12:00 PM, that's not necessarily great because that could be an indication that the property was listed for too low. What you want is you want to get maximum exposure for a property so that you get it sold as quickly as possible for the most amount of money possible, not just sold as quickly as possible because if you list things too cheap, they'll sell right away in most cases.

REASON 1 - No professional photos

PAUL: What are some of the reasons that a house might spend more time on the market than it maybe should?

TONY: There's a few reasons. Reason one that I'd say is a big one that I see a lot is not having professional photos and videos done. Photos, obviously, if they're done professionally, they put your home in the best possible light. Most of the buyers that are buying on the Sunshine Coast with us, kind of moving back to more retiree-driven buyers, then they're going to be looking off coast. So they might be in Alberta, they might be in Ontario, they might be in North Van, but they want to be able to see what the home looks like, and having professional photos done represents your property in the best possible light and then attracts people to come and look at it.

TONY: Video is something that the majority of Realtors do now. And you want to make sure that when you are doing video, that you're highlighting the area around. Because they say a picture's worth a thousand words. Well, I mean a video is worth 10,000 words kind of thing. It gives them a really good idea of the neighborhood, and that's what people are buying. They're buying the house, but they're also buying the lifestyle, they're also buying the neighborhood.

TONY: And so professional photos and video let you really represent that and give the people a bit of a leg up on what they're going to expect if they were to live there and motivates them to come and see the property.

REASON 2 - price is too high

PAUL: If photos and video are the first part of a system to get your house sold, what would be the second thing that's important to remember?

TONY: Probably the second thing would be the price. You want to make sure that you're pricing the home appropriately. If you're in a market which is a seller's market, like we've just gone through with the COVID bump and everything that we experienced on the Coast, then it didn't really matter. You could overprice a little bit and just wait and the market would catch up. 

TONY: The market that we're in now, it's important to price it appropriately because if you overprice in this market, you're going to end up chasing the market down and ultimately getting less than you would have had you priced it appropriately. You don't really want to worry too much about what other comparable homes are listed at. What you want to use to gauge your list price is what comparable homes have sold at because that's a true indication of what your home is worth.

TONY: And in a market like this, you definitely do not want to leave "negotiating room," because I've had a couple of listings recently where we list them, the sellers say, "Oh, we want to try a little bit higher price," kind of against my advice, I'll let sellers do that providing that there's a limit to it, a timeframe. Typically, I'll pre-sign some sort of price reduction so that we can list it at a higher price for a week or so, see what feedback we get from the Realtor tour, see what feedback we get from showings, and then immediately do that adjustment. 

TONY: But you definitely don't want to leave negotiating room because, for example, if your house is worth $1.5M and you list it for $1.6M, all the buyers that can afford $1.5M and might see value in your house at that, want to come see it, aren't searching with a parameter up to $1.6M because they don't have that much money, they can't qualify for it. And not everyone's a professional buyer. So they're not going to think, "Ah, we'll just write an offer a hundred grand under what they're asking and they'll counter." They think, "I don't want to offend these people." And you're just not going to get those showings if you overprice it.

TONY: So, don't leave negotiating room, make sure that you use recent sales to gauge your price, and ultimately talk to a Realtor that's active in the area and has a good gauge on the activity and what's happening, and they're going to be able to guide you. And whatever Realtor you pick, listen to their advice. It's always a shame when you go into a listing presentation or you see someone that's hired a Realtor, but then thinks that they know better than the Realtor and isn't listening, and invariably, for the Realtor, they end up just babysitting that listing until another Realtor comes in and drops the price and sells it.

REASON 3 - Not enough exposure

PAUL: If a property is priced right on the money and it has the best photos and the best videos ever, if nobody knows that that house is for sale, nobody's going to buy it. So how do you go about promoting one of your listings?

TONY: Like you said, if you've got everything else sorted out, but no one knows that the home's available for sale, then no one's going to want to come see it. So, the key thing would be probably listing on the MLS. If you have the choice between doing an exclusive listing or an MLS listing, the MLS listing is going to get you a ton more exposure because it goes to all of the other real estate agents in the Greater Vancouver area. Not everyone knows, but the Sunshine Coast is part of the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, and so any listings that we post on the MLS go to Vancouver and anywhere else that the board covers, including the Fraser Valley.

TONY: You also want to make sure that the agent that you hire has their own marketing that they do, so they know how to market stuff on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube. I like to advertise my listings on Coast FM and Spotify as well. I get some good traction from that. And we're always changing what we do based upon the results and the analytics that we get back and we're always trying new stuff. So, as long as you've got an agent that's, obviously, licensed, can post stuff on the MLS, and has a marketing plan themselves, then you should be in pretty good shape as far as getting it out there.

TONY: The key thing, as well, if you are listing a home on the Sunshine Coast, ideally you'll list it with an agent that's part of the Sunshine Coast Real Estate Association because anyone that is part of that association... To be part of that association, you have to reside on the Sunshine Coast, work on the Sunshine Coast, and have a brokerage that has an office on the Sunshine Coast. And if you meet those criteria, then you're allowed to put your listings on the real estate tour of the Sunshine Coast, where all of the Realtors will come through and view the properties, give feedback, and get a sneak peek ahead of it going to the general public so that their buyers can come in and write an offer if it's something that they're interested in.

REASON 4 - Sellers aren't co-operative

PAUL: Between those three things, you're taking a lot of the responsibility of helping the house sell. What should a seller be prepared to do to help the house sell?

TONY: The main thing is to be open to showings. If you have someone that's interested in your house and they want to come and have a look, you want to make sure that you allow them to come and have a look, because you never know when the right buyer's going to come along and someone's going to fall in love with it. Even if it's a last-minute showing, someone's coming from Vancouver and they didn't notice your particular listing, and all of a sudden, it's popped up and they want to see it. If their agent phones and requests a showing, allow that showing. 

TONY: Most people live in a home for five to eight years before they sell it. So when you list the home, being inconvenienced, so to speak, for three weeks or four weeks, having to maintain the house, keep it decluttered, keep it clean, that type of stuff, and be able to turn on a dime for showings, isn't that much of an inconvenience given what the potential upside is, and that you want to sell your home to be able to achieve whatever the next step or goals in your life are.


PAUL: All those things have happened. You've got pictures. You've got a price. You've promoted it. The seller's cooperating in letting people come through. But you're still not getting offers on a property. What is happening or not happening?

TONY: I think that you want to make sure that the expectations that you're setting for a potential buyer are realistic and they're not going to come in and go, "This is nothing like the photos." It's an art, and that's, again, why professional photos are important, but you want to make sure that the expectations that are set out in the listing and in the listing description and the video and the lifestyle video and the location and all that kind of stuff is a true reflection, because you don't want buyers coming and then feel like some sort of bait and switch has happened where they're looking at one thing online and then when they get there, it's something completely different. So, I think just being upfront about any shortcomings of the property to a point so that you are being realistic about what the property is going to be like when people show up and want to have a look.

REASON 6 - Not listening to the market

PAUL: What if people are showing up and they are offering, but there's a mismatch between what you're asking and what's offered? Do you have to listen to what the market is telling you?

TONY: Yeah, if you get a few different offers, like if you've got a place listed for, well, let's say $800,000 and people are coming in and offering you between $700K and $750K, and you get more than one offer. I mean, one offer could be an aggressive buyer. But if you've got it listed for four months and you get three offers and they're all in the ballpark and they're all $100K less than what you've listed it for, odds are the market's trying to tell you that you are overpriced. And to be honest with you, if you have a place listed for three or four months and you get three "lowball" offers, imagine what would have happened if you priced it properly. You would have done so much better. So it's always good to price it appropriately.

TONY: And what I always do, if a seller's super worried... If I go into a listing presentation, they go, "We want a million bucks," I'm like, "Well, it's not worth it. It's worth $900K," they're like, "Yeah, but we want to make sure we get the right price," what we do is we hold offers. So we say, "Listen, what we'll do is we'll list it for $899K. We'll hold offers for a week. If it's a hundred grand under price like you think it is, you're going to get a ton of action and we'll see where we get to. And you're under no obligation to accept any offers when you list a property, so we can see what happens. And then if, after a week, you've got no offers whatsoever and we've held offers, then maybe we were right. It wasn't such a great deal and we might actually have to look at slightly less kind of thing." So, I mean, there's nuance to figuring it out and what you're doing, but ultimately, if you get a lot of lowball offers, that is the market telling you that your property is overpriced.

REASON 7 - Not working every offer

PAUL: Using the example of an $800,000 house that gets a $700,000 offer, what do you do with that offer when it comes in? Do you just decline the offer? Do you counter?

TONY: My policy is always to counter an offer. A lot of times, people will come in and they'll go, "Ah, let's just see where they're at," and they'll throw a lowball offer. I always prep my sellers. I'm like, "It's hard," but I'm like, "Don't take it personally. No one's trying to insult you. No one's saying that the quality of home you keep. There isn't any pride of ownership, none of that. They're just trying." And especially in a market like this, people have heard everything on the news and are like, "It's a buyers' market. We're going to go in and we don't have to pay." Now, we do have low inventory, so prices are very stable on the Coast at the moment. But yeah, try not to be offended because I've had many, many times where people have come in $150K, $200K under asking price on, like, a $1.5 million place, and we negotiate and we get them up to the point that the bottom line of the seller is at anyway.

TONY: So, if you don't get offended and counter any offer, that's the best policy because you're going to always negotiate something. And if it doesn't work out, then it's still good to go through that process, especially if... Not everyone buys and sells homes all the time. So as a seller, it's good to go through the process so that for next time, you know what to expect and how to handle it, and hopefully not to get too emotional about it until the deal's done, and then you're ready to celebrate and that's great.

House still won't sell

PAUL: Those are the seven reasons that maybe a house isn't selling. If somebody is watching this and their house has been listed for months and months and it's just not moving, what is your advice to them?

TONY: I would say just have a honest conversation with your real estate agent. Just have them come in and chat with them and say, "Why do you think it's not selling?" And a lot of times, a Realtor might be a little bit shy, potentially, to say, "Your house is overpriced and you're not picking up the dog poop in the backyard and you don't clean up," or whatever, or "There's a tenant that isn't allowing showings," or whatever the reason is, if you just have an honest conversation about the state of the nation at that particular time, then you can typically resolve it and move forward both managing each other's expectations and it'll probably all come together. So, communication, I think, is probably the key if your home isn't selling. And then just be realistic.

Salvage the relationship

PAUL: What if the relationship with the agent is to the point that you can't have an open and honest conversation? Is there any way to salvage that relationship with an existing Realtor?

TONY: Realtors are committed to selling. I mean, we're contractually obligated to do our best work for a particular client. If something could be going on in the agent's personal life, there could be other factors that are inhibiting the agent from doing their job. I mean, a personality conflict could have evolved between the agent and the seller. But at that point, what I'd probably recommend is just talking to the agent's managing broker, because the relationship that you have as a seller is not exclusively to the agent. It's primarily through the brokerage. I've had situations in the past where I've ended up not getting along with the seller. And sometimes that comes out of left field. Other times there's mitigating circumstances. But, in the past, what's happened is, people have phoned up, talked to the managing broker, he just assigns another agent, they take over, and it moves forward amicably, and ultimately, they get the property sold.

Talk to the brokerage

TONY: So, you do want to communicate. And if you're not communicating with the agent, then you just got to take it to the next level, talk to the managing broker, and the managing broker will do everything they can to take care of your needs. Yeah, that would be kind of the next step. But most times, if you just make sure you have a honest conversation, call the agent in, just discuss with them, let them know your concerns, they're going to come back and you're going to resolve it and ultimately probably get the home sold.

TONY: To me, the most important thing that you can do if you can is maintain that relationship with that agent and try to get your home sold. You don't necessarily want to be starting over again. But if there's no option, if it's irreparably damaged, the nuclear option would be to ask for a termination of contract. And then if you do get a termination of contract, typically you have to wait, I think it's either 30 days or until the listing would have expired, whichever comes sooner. And then after that point, you can then start interviewing other Realtors or do whatever you want to do from there, start trying to sell it by yourself or however you want to go.

Listings for April 2023

587 Woodland Avenue, Granthams Landing (Gibsons), BC

TONY: We have lots of good stuff. We've got the newest listing I've got is if anyone is a fan of Olga's Kitchen, and the house that Olga films that out of is actually up for sale right now. That's 587 Woodland. It's beautiful. It's, I think, seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, 4,600 square feet, beautiful view, over half an acre. And Olga actually has a hair studio set up there, as well, where the garage was. It's like a little commercial professional operation down there. And I think that's going to be perfect. For the right person, you definitely couldn't replace... The replacement value on that place, being in the neighborhood that it's in, would be well over 3 million bucks to do it. And it's on for just under $2.5M. So, a really good deal there.

727 Gower Point Road, Gibsons, BC

TONY: I've still got Gower Point Road. That one, we just had a septic inspection done there, that checked out, all really good. So that's a great piece of property with a really livable, renovatable house on there. That one is now down at $1.349M. I think the tax assessment's $1.52M. So really good opportunity there.

833 Byng Road, Roberts Creek, BC

TONY: 833 Byng Road, we've just dropped the price on that one down to just under $1.5M. I think it was a good deal at $1.55M. So, really good deal for that one.

5204 Wesjac Road, Madeira Park, BC

TONY: And then what else? Wesjac, we just did an adjustment on price. It's a brand-new build, great view up there.

TONY: I can keep rattling them on, but we are starting to sell quite a few of them. I think I've sold five or six in the last week. So we are starting to see some action. So if you are on the fence and looking at some of our beautiful listings and mesmerized by the beautiful videos showing location and everything else, don't stay on the fence too long.

TONY: Get over here, have a look, and write some offers because you never know what's going to happen. I thought that the market would have softened quite a bit by now, but it seems that, with them not increasing the interest rates last opportunity, inflation now looking like it's under control, we might start to see a regular spring market in the sense of things start flying off the shelf again. And if the last week's any indication, it's starting to happen. So, now might be the time to go before it starts coming up again.


If you’re not already working with an agent, call me when you’re ready to buy or sell and I’ll guide you through the busy and competitive real estate market on BC’s BEAUTIFUL Sunshine Coast.

Tony Browton - TeamTrueBlue.ca
Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX City Realty (Gibsons)
Mobile: 604-418-2695
Email: Click here to email Tony

⚠️ DISCLAIMER: This blogpost is not intended to cause or induce breach of any existing agency agreement.