reasons home isnt sellingUnable to sell your home? One of the biggest challenges home sellers face is the unknown, whether it's because this is your first time exploring the resale market and selling your home, or you sold it much easier in previous times, home owners can sometimes be left in the dark as to why their home may not be selling . One of the most common misconceptions in the real estate industry is that a home not selling or getting much attention translates to it being priced too high, and often sellers who have previously been on the market approach us ready to list their homes are prepared to drop price significantly to get the job done. While price can definitely be a factor in your homes ability to sell, we will always explore any other factors that could be potentially pushing buyers elsewhere. Some of these items can be the most minor things to you and are easily overlooked, but for others, they can be deal breakers. In this blog, we're taking a deep dive on the top reasons your home may not be selling or why it didn't sell when you had it listed on the market. 

Please note this blog is not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract with a brokerage and is intended for sellers not under contract or those selling privately. 

Our guide on why your home isn't selling 

Bad Odours And Smells

One of the most powerful senses for people, yet is often one of the most that's innocently overlooked.

While you may have a strong nose for detecting bad smells, foul odours can often go unnoticed by home owners simply because our brains adapt to them. Ever notice when you first put cologne or perfume on how strong it is, and how quickly you stop noticing that smell? That's not because you're buying poor quality fragrances that's wearing off quickly, it's called sensory adaptation and your brain subconsciously stops identifying the smell. While this is great in many day to day situations, it should also stay in the back of any potential home sellers mind when they're getting ready to list. Whether it's from pets, smoking, or strong smelling meals, bad smells can push buyers out the front door as quickly as they came in. 

We've had many buyers put a stop to a showing or not even enter because of bad odours and overly strong smells in a home. Even though smells are generally treatable and not permanent, it's just one element that many buyers can't see (smell) past. 

Our recommendation for bad smells and odors: Have your agent, an honest friend. or family member swing by with a fresh palette, ask them to explore your home to identify any bad odours.  Typically the deal breaking smells we deal with come from smoking cigarettes (and less commonly marijuana), spoiled food / old trash or compost, recent meals or cooking, and pets. Identify the bad smells and eliminate them before you re-list your home for sale. 

Bonus:  Check out our blog on how to keep your home in show ready condition! It covers everything from tips on how to keep your home smelling fresh, to other causes of bad odours and tips for best results "If you have a diffuser utilize citrus based scents, subconsciously this will provide the viewers with a feeling that the home is clean and fresh."

Bad Photos And Video (Or None At All) 

The statistics across the board put home buyers in the 90%+ range as a resource home buyers utilize to find their next dream home or rental property. In our opinion, it's near 100%, whether it's a listing sent via our property alerts through our home hunter systems, or through blogs like this for informational purposes, getting online in your home search is just a natural part of the home buying process in today's real estate world. 

Our first step for marketing any listing is building marketing collateral. This is achieved by utilizing Calgary's top real estate photographers, and by working with professional videographers or by creating video assets with our photographs to ensure that no matter the home, whether it's a small 500 sq ft condominium in the belt line listed for $125,000 or luxury estate home, we have the marketing collateral to deliver on the most engaged platforms and digital spaces for potential home buyers.

Our photo recommendation:  Don't settle with photos you've taken on your phone, while many current smart phones in todays market deliver incredible photos, the quality still hasn't reached that of Professional Digital SLR or Professional Mirrorless gear setups. The combination of an experienced professional real estate photographer and their equipment (tripod, editing software, and camera) delivers a product that will always ensure your homes best looks are always at the forefront. 

Here you can see one small element we incorporate in our marketing package. We eliminate the guesswork of exterior photo shoots and ensuring that there's going to be blue skies and clouds, or eye catching sunset visuals by incorporating the latest AI photo editing techniques. This spotlights our listings and makes them stand out amongst the field of other listing thumbnails which is how most listings are commonly viewed by Calgary home buyers.
Professional Home Photographs Calgary

Our video recommendation: Similar to photos, a properly shot video does a much better job at providing prospective buyers with a virtual walk through that highlights and excites them about what your home has to offer.  High quality video content is something our team delivers on a consistent basis, and when it comes to marketing a home, we believe it's one of the most critical  elements to generating the most interest and offers the most immersive experience for out of town buyers. 

Whether it's a fun video with the know it all agents to highlight one of our favorite Calgary home builders Shane Homes and their Mark 101 Condominium development. 

Or one of the many listing videos we've done that have helped contribute to these listings selling in just days (or first day) on the market and some for full or above asking price. Our team incorporates 4K interior footage along with exterior drone footage to highlight our listings and give prospective buyers an immediate feel and appreciation for our listings. 


No Feedback

Often times sellers overlook the importance of feedback from buyers, earlier in the blog we touched on the 'unknown'. Without obtaining proper feedback, sellers can oftentimes be left in the dark on the perceived condition / shape of a home and its comparative value in the market to other homes buyers are seeing. 
Our feedback recommendation:  When listed with our team, we actively seek out feedback from all showings and will use advanced negotiation techniques to generate more interest and offers from buyers, if you're not receiving feedback after showings, we highly recommend at minimum that you pursue feedback after your showings. 

Not Enough Marketing

In today's ultra competitive real estate market a home should be marketed through many different channels, our team incorporates a nearly 100 step process with tasks for various team members, this includes cross posting your home on the most popular classified sites, the creation of high quality custom eight page feature sheets, along home marketingwith professional measurements, videos, and photographs.  Our approach to marketing is always centric to generating buyers for our listings, if your home is struggling to sell, especially in today's market, and you're confident that price isn't a factor, it could very well be that your home isn't being marketed effectively and to the right buyers. 

Our recommendation for marketing: There isn't a fix all approach for this. It could be one of the various elements within this blog, combined with poor marketing that positions your home to not sell, a lack of an off market / coming soon campaign could have hurt your homes initial launch which for the first two weeks is typically the most critical timing to generating the most interest. 

If you've tried selling your home without success and you're considering another attempt at putting it back on the market, interview multiple real estate teams or single agents and ask them what their marketing plan entails. They should be able to clearly convey an effective game plan to get the job done. We employ specialized real estate inside sales agents who market our listings to the thousands of home buyers we generate every month. This, along with our team of highly trained REALTORS® who are constantly promoting our homes both online and in person, it's one of the many reasons we successfully help hundreds of clients every year achieve their real estate goals. 

Unfavorable Market

Whether it's the economy, a declining population (seen more so in rural areas), a pandemic, time of year, you name it, they all take a toll on your homes ability to get sold.

You may not be in control of the job market or our economy, but the real question is, what is in your control?  When you decide to list, how you approach your sale, and how serious you are about selling getting your home sold. 

Not all unfavorable conditions are against you, there are periods where certain homes (single family) are in high demand, while condominiums are declining, and there are times where certain areas are hotter than others. Knowing the market, the current and upcoming trends, statistics, and keeping in tune with developments and construction will help you understand and navigate the sale of your home far more effectively. 

Our recommendation for unfavorable market conditions: Timing can be one of the most critical aspects to the successful sale of your home, but also one of the most difficult to get in front of. Being armed with the knowledge of potential unfavorable market conditions can alleviate any unexpected market conditions that may work against you. 

Consider these scenarios that could negatively impact the sale of your home. 

  • If you happen to list when a bunch of your neighbors decide to sell their homes as well.
  • Time of year. December is historically one of the slower months, listing your home on December 15th (especially in a buyers market) will likely draw or garner little attention throughout the holiday season and could stack up the active days on market for your home. Listing during Stampede, or even the first weeks before and during back to school could also result in far less showings as its a busy period for many buyers. 
  • New regulations could be implemented, whether it's vacancy taxes or increased fees, unforeseen regulations that are implemented could result in a decline of buyers in the market. 
  • Interest rate increases definitely pump the brakes for buyers plans as their ability to purchase is diminished. 
  • New developments or changes to your immediate location. The addition of the new ring road may increase the value of homes, especially those in pockets of the city that didn't have immediate access to major transportation routes, but being too close to the newly developed ring road could work heavily against you. Another example of this is seen in developments where a golf course is present, we've seen this in Shawnee Slopes and are presently hearing proposals of it happening in Chestermere. If your home used to back onto a beautifully maintained golf course, the loss of that green space, and the addition of high density housing or apartment buildings could severely impact the value of your home in the long run.  

exterior curb appeal

Poor Curb Appeal 

The first impression for home buyers driving up shouldn't be off putting. Poor exterior maintenance, cracked / damaged siding, broken windows, debris / garbage are all indicators of low pride in ownership. 

Our curb appeal recommendation:  Read our blog on exterior home finishes that provide a great return on investment and utilize this to gauge whether your homes exterior needs a little work done on it prior to listing. 

Broken / Nonworking Systems And Components

Whether it's the A/C or the furnace, major components & systems that are non functional or broken in a home can be a major deterrent for many home buyers. In today's market, many buyers are reaching their upper spending limits to achieve home ownership and they're often not keen on shelling out extra money after they've taken possession. Repairs on major systems can cost hundreds to thousands to repair and typically thousands to replace, this can create a major financial hurdle for buyers that some simply cannot achieve. 

It doesn't stop there though, non functioning hot tubs, saunas, pools, or things like decks / porches that need immediate repair also create barriers for buyers, the thought of having a hot tub removed and an old hot water tank on its last legs might be that extra push to have buyers look elsewhere. 

Our recommendation for systems and components in the home that aren't working: Chat with your Calgary real estate agent, this can really vary based on level repair needed. A hot water tank that isn't as efficient as it used to be, may not be worth replacing, in contrast to a damaged 

Cleaning checklist


From cat litter and poop on the floor, to blood stains on the wall, the list of shocking and "Oh wow" things our team has seen and come across when showing clients homes could be a lengthy multi hour podcast episode. You never know what you're going to come across when you are viewing homes.

While some may be able to overlook a little mess, for others it can be very off putting, and outright dirty homes are quickly struck off the list for many home buyers, and there's a few reasons for this. 
  • Buyers are more focused on the mess and less focused on your home. 
  • Buyers look at the home as if it's going be a lot more work. If you had two homes similarly priced in the market and are pretty equal, the dirtier home is far less likely to get an offer on it. 
  • Buyers will perceive your pride of home ownership to be very low, this mindset is then carried through to other areas and systems in the home, and their confidence in your ability to maintain and properly upkeep the property is heavily put into question. The last thing you want is to have a beautiful home with good bones and systems to be viewed as poorly maintained and neglected simply because it's messy.   

Our Recommendation for Dirty Homes: Spend a weekend dedicated to cleaning, OR hire a local cleaning company to come in and help get the job done, it's fairly affordable to have someone stop by for 4-8 hours, and a professional cleaner should be able to get the job done a bit quicker alleviating the stress of doing it yourself. 


The list of undesirable elements to a property are unique to each buyer. Some home owners prefer living near an easy entry / exit point to avoid traffic within the community and do not desire living too deep within a community, others consider this a major drawback. Whether its busy roads with lots of traffic and activity, to being TOO close to a school, train tracks or an LRT line. The list of undesirable features is long. Being unable to recognize and acknowledge these potential drawbacks, could be what's holding your property back from getting the attention it deserves. Ultimately though, this can usually only be addressed / reflected in the list price of your home. 

Our recommendation: When possible, address any potential issues head on and get creative by highlighting the benefits. A home near a busy road is also a home that has "Great access and easy commute to the downtown core". 

Limited Access To The Home

One of the biggest hurdles a seller can self impose on the sale of their home is the access, or limited access and freedom given to potential home buyers who are trying to see it. Sure, it's your home, your sale, and should be your rules, however there are common practices and expectations most buyers have when they plan to see a home and if they're not met, it can end a showing early or it could not happen at all! 
Convenience for sellers can be very important, whether it's scheduling around their work, bed times, kids routines, etc. Selling your home can be a major burden on your life, but in a transaction this big, it's often recommended that you try and be as flexible and accommodating as possible.
Our recommendations for sellers who aren't sure about what they should be allowing buyers: 
  • Avoid offering time slots that are too short. A 15 minute showing time slot might seem easy for you and the family, but it typically will not be enough time for someone to imagine themselves living and truly appreciating and exploring your home. There are definitely buyers in the market who see a home and know it's the right one within 5 to 10 minutes of being inside, but why force them to make an early exit? We recommend at least offering 30 minute time slots with 30-60 being the most ideal. 
  • Pets left at the home during showings isn't helping your home sell! Even if they're friendly, some people just aren't pet friendly and when possible, we recommend that pets are always out of the house for showings when your home is on the market. If you have aggressive, loud, or pets that like to disturb, we highly recommend that they're taken out of the house for all showings.
  • You want to be home for the showing? Just don't do it, buyers like to feel free in a home when viewing, nothing makes a showing worse for potential buyers than having to tippy toe around others or not being able to be candid with their REALTOR®. Your home is much less likely to sell or be considered if you or your family are present for the showings. 
  • You don't have a good system for booking showings. Our team utilizes popular industry software to manage showings for our listings that makes it seamless for other agents to review instructions on when the home is available, how to book a showing, and can review showing notes and details about the home directly from the app. 

Vacant Or Not Staged

Quite simply, many buyers can't visualize or feel at home in a vacant property. 

It happens frequently where our buyers walk into a vacant master bedroom and believe it to be much smaller than other ones they've seen (that are staged or lived in) when in reality they're the same size or even bigger. 

Staging your home allows for it to be positioned with in its bet form, it's not always about fruit being in a bowl perfectly placed in your kitchen, proper staging can include decluttering, addressing dark / dead spaces, and distracting from minor imperfections. 

You have a much better chance of getting buyers in the right mindset during a showing which is having them picturing themselves living in their new (your) home.  They'll focus less on trying to figure out layouts and configuration of furniture and the clutter on your shelves, and more on the property itself. 

Personalized décor may make your home feel like home to you, but for others it might not be the same. The last thing you want is buyers looking over your family photos, your wedding memories, and family vacation photos while they should be appreciating your 9ft ceilings, granite counters, and perfect space for hosting their friends. 

Our recommendation: Consult with your agent or decide if you need to bring a stager in to get your home in its best form and if needed, read our guide on selecting a stager in Calgary.

Mold, Pests, Water Damage Present

Not many things turn buyers away as quickly as mold, pests, or water damage. All of these, especially in any combination of more than one, should only be present in homes that are going to be renovated or torn down. Listing your home with one of these deficiencies will turn away many buyers and will severely depreciate your property. 

Our recommendation: Discuss your property and it's specific situation with a Real Estate Partners REALTOR® to decide whether remediation / renovations are your best option for maximizing resale, or whether the home would be better positioned to be marketed as an investment property. 

Your Home Is Too Special Or Unique

This may sound strange, but homes that fall under the very custom or unique category can sometimes end up being harder to sell. We're not necessarily referring to the home with retro wallpaper and shag carpet, but to the homes with uncommon layouts, or features that aren't seen commonly (two kitchens). Custom home builds can be built to the specifications of a niche buyer and what may seem beneficial for one home owner, could be puzzling or off putting to another. It's important to understand the complexities of unique custom properties. 

One example was a home in a newer community that had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into the backyard, it was incredible, but in relation to the community in southeast Calgary, it was truly one of a kind and the owner of that home sought a near 1:1 return on investment for the work they had done and completed. This may or may not be achievable, many buyers will put a higher emphasis on the interior of the home itself and would have a hard time spending $200,000+ more on a home with this setup than a similar home priced $200,000 less down the street that's similar. 

Our Recommendation for unique home owners: Similar to previous recommendations above, the strategy surrounding unique homes should first begin with identifying your target buyers. Once that strategy is developed, it's important that your marketing is implemented and is consistently catered to these buyers. The write ups should highlight the benefits of the unique layouts, features, and why they're special and how they enhance the home and those who live there as well as their potential.        

The House Is In Poor condition 

Not much has to be said about this, a home that is in disrepair is one of the easiest ways to have buyers walk away from your listing. Telltale signs of issues seen in a homeunique homes for sale in calgary can include water stains on your ceilings, outdated plumbing, exposed wiring, a poorly done electrical panel, visible damage to roof shingles, water penetration in the foundation (if exposed) cracked / damaged flooring, are some of the many indicators of homes that may be in poor condition.

Our Recommendation For Homes in Poor Condition:  Depending on the condition of your property, it can sometimes be beneficial to perform a pre listings home inspection with a professional home inspector prior to listing the home, you can address any deficiencies in the house and provide potential buyers with a copy to address any concerns that may prevent them from writing an offer. 

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Final thoughts

If you're ready to sell your home again and are looking for expert advice from a trusted real estate team, give us a call or contact us. We'll provide a no obligation, free consultation at your home, going through any concerns, thoughts, or questions you have and will address the issues above plus more that may be holding your home back from selling.

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Posted by Calgary Homes Real Estate Partners Team on
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