It’s tough to start over after your home didn’t sell, especially if you had an offer that ended without a closing. This happens sometimes and for multiple reasons: buyer-financing difficulties, a family emergency, problems found at inspection, or even a low appraisal.
If you had backup offers waiting in the wings, lucky you! But if you didn’t, you’ve still got a few options for relisting your home for sale in Santa Fe, NM, or Charleston, SC, after a sale falls through.
1. Continue working with your current agent
This option is easy. Just start again — ditch that “pending” status, change it back to “active,” and prepare yourself for another wave of showings. But don’t ditch your agent too fast. They did their job to get you a buyer, after all. “It is not [the agent’s] fault if the buyer falls through,” says Brett Ringelheim, a New York real estate agent with Nest Seekers International.
“The issue is how well the listing agent investigated the sale and protected the seller,” says Bruce Ailion, an Atlanta real estate agent and attorney. Sometimes agents know when the offer is a shaky one that might not close. Although they may advise you not to take it, you might anyway. In that scenario, the only time to hold the agent responsible is if they pushed you to take a weak offer and then “allowed 30 to 60 days to pass before it fell apart,” says Ailion.
When your home doesn’t even get offers, it’s natural to be frustrated. Your first reaction might be to blame the agent. But you really “shouldn’t change agents for the sake of trying something new,” says Gary Lucido, president of Lucid Realty in Chicago. Here’s a strategy Ailion recommends: “Have a conversation and ask that your listing be terminated.” Give your agent some time (Ailion asks for 24 hours) to fix or address the issue. If you’re still dissatisfied, then consider finding a new agent.
2. End the contract with your agent
If you need a change — maybe you believe your agent dropped the ball — you can end the contract. “The seller must give notice to the broker in writing,” says Robert Vinson, head of Vinson Real Estate Group in Los Angeles. Note that you could “have some obligation to pay a portion of the marketing efforts,” adds Vinson.
You might need to end your contract by waiting until its term ends, but this isn’t always the case. “You should be able to terminate a contract at any time; no reasonable agent wants to work with an unhappy client,” says Lucido.
You would then go through the process of finding a new agent. Maybe you picked a family member or friend the first time, and it didn’t work out. Pick your next agent as you would any other professional. In this case, check references, ask whether they sell in your area, and find out if they have experience with your type of home. Selling a historic house downtown, for example, requires a different set of skills than selling suburban subdivision digs. Also find out how many houses the agent listed last year and, of those, how many actually sold.
“Above all, don’t list with the agent who charges the least commission,” says Candace Evans, a Westchester County, NY, real estate broker. “Like most things in life, you really do get what you pay for.”
3. Wait a few days
If you need (and want) to sell, you’ll need to relist your home. But you might want to reflect on what happened last time and possibly brainstorm a new strategy beforehand.
Expect to put in some extra time, especially if you hired a new agent. Sit down with them, discuss what happened, and find out their ideas for preventing the same situation from happening again, suggests Ringelheim.
You’ll probably have more photos taken (professional ones are best), powwow on whether you’ll change the price, and possibly highlight your amenities in a better way, such as improving the curb appeal or emptying cluttered closets.
4. Fix any problems
If your deal fell through because the inspection report caused the buyer to run for the hills, you have some decisions to make. “It is important for the seller to get all necessary items fixed,” says John Lyons, a Chicago real estate broker. “Otherwise, the problem will likely happen again with the next buyer.” If you’re unwilling to do this, disclose the problems to potential buyers the next time you enter a pending sale and consider lowering the price.
5. Put your listing on pause
If you’d rather not relist during a slow season, you can wait it out for warmer weather and a potentially larger market. “The busy spring market starts right after the Super Bowl and lasts until Memorial Day, and the shorter fall market is between Labor Day and Halloween,” says Evans.
November and December are “really bad” times, says Gary Lucido. So if you can afford to postpone the sale, consider waiting for a better time of year. You can, of course, still sell a house during the holiday season — you just might need to work a bit harder.
Another reason to wait to relist is to have your home show up again as “new” on the listings. “Depending on your local MLS, you may or may not be able to relist the home within a certain amount of time and have it show up as new,” says Ross Anthony, a San Diego agent with Willis Allen Real Estate.
The point is to avoid the dreaded “stale” listing, a home that’s been on the market (and MLS) so long, people begin to wonder what’s wrong with it. “When you relist the home, it should show as a new listing with a fresh batch of marketing photos,” says Anthony. He says that after three to six months, a whole new group of buyers could see your listing with fresh eyes.
Do you have any tried-and-true strategies for relisting a home? Share them with us in the comments below!