When to Consider Giving Your Listed Home a Breather From the Property Market

Taking a break is always a good idea when it comes to rejuvenating your spirit and your energy, but sometimes it can also be a good strategy when you’re selling your house.

Years ago, when everything in real estate was less transparent than it is today, sellers whose homes weren’t receiving any offers could take it off the market and put it back on a few weeks or months later without everyone knowing that it was a reboot of an old listing. These days, property records are an open book, so prospective buyers know when a house has been relisted. Still, taking a house off the market can be a smart move in certain circumstances.

“The best plan for any home sale is to strategize first to get the price right and your home in good condition,” said Maria Daou, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York City. “If your home doesn’t sell in one to three months, that’s not necessarily a big red flag to buyers in this market. But if you think you’re priced right and your home shows well and you haven’t had an offer after many months, you may want to take it off the market for a while.”

When an Unsold Home Becomes a Liability

The biggest reason to consider taking your home off the market is to avoid the stigma of being considered “stale.” Buyers often assume there’s something wrong with a house that sits on the market longer than homes in the same neighborhood and price range. They may not visit such a house at all, or they may make a lowball offer.

Knowing when a listing is getting stale is notoriously difficult, especially in a slowing market.

“The luxury sector of the market has less turnover than other segments,” said Matt Adamo, a real estate agent with the Aaron Kirman Group at Christie’s International Real Estate in Beverly Hills. “If your home is listed at $50 million or above, don’t expect it to sell for at least six months or longer.”

For homes priced between $12 million and $50 million in Los Angeles, Mr. Adamo recommends considering a change in the price or marketing strategy if no offers have been made after two months.

“After three months, a house in that price range would be considered a stale listing,” Mr. Adamo said. “There’s more inventory available under $12 million, so with a listing in that range I would make an adjustment after one month if there were no offers.”

In Palm Beach, Florida, there’s a pullback in sales and prices because buyers are afraid of overpaying, according to Erin Sykes, a real estate agent and chief economist with Nest Seekers International in Palm Beach.

“If the house is fairly priced and doesn’t need renovations, then I recommend that sellers be patient and keep it on the market,” Ms. Sykes said. “If it’s overpriced, just do a price reduction.”

Dropping to a slightly lower price to get into a new search range, such as just below $5 million instead of just above it, can get the attention of a new set of buyers, Ms. Daou said.

Why Delist Your Home

The two main reasons to take your house off the market are to improve its condition or to adapt to seasonality in the market, Mr. Adamo said.

“If you’re getting feedback that people like your house but they notice stress fractures or that it needs some other work, then it makes sense to take your house off the market to address those issues,” Mr. Adamo said. “If you can do renovations quickly and cost-effectively, then you can put it back on the market quickly with a slight price adjustment.”

Physical or virtual staging, reshooting photos and perhaps adding a video can be valuable steps to take while your home is temporarily off the market, Ms. Sykes said.

“Sellers and agents got in some bad habits these last two years when things sold so fast that they didn’t need to do much of anything,” Ms. Sykes said. “Now they need to take the time to make it more marketable.”

While sellers may be tempted to raise the price after fixing their house, Mr. Adamo recommends against that unless significant changes have been made since every buyer wants to think they’re getting a deal.

Sellers may also want to temporarily take their home off the market during the holidays or to relist at a more optimal time.

“In Palm Beach and South Florida, the ideal time to list your home is in October or November before the season starts,” Ms. Sykes said. “In the Northeast and the Midwest, you may want to list 30 days or so before the spring market starts.”

Time Off the Market

When you take your home off the market temporarily and then relist it, the property will come up as a new listing when buyers search for properties.

“Agents and buyers know it’s a relisting but they’re likely to take a second look when it pops up, especially if you have new photos and have staged it,” Mr. Adamo said.

For sellers who choose to take their home off the market, a big question is how long to wait until they relist it.

For homeowners determined to sell at a certain price and who don’t have a specific timeline for their transaction, Ms. Daou suggests taking their home off the market for a year or two, although she acknowledges that even that won’t necessarily achieve their goals.

“If you take your home off the market for a few months, do nothing to it and keep the price the same, you’re not likely to get an offer,” Ms. Daou said. “That’s especially true if you hope to get a big number such as $10 million when your place may be worth closer to $8.5 million right now. You may need to wait a year or two in that case, but there are too many unknowns and that may not work.”

Sometimes sellers who choose to take their home off the market for a year or more end up in a worse position because of competition from new developments in their neighborhood, she added.

“If you haven’t prepped, painted, decluttered and staged your home, then it makes sense to take it off the market, do those things and get new photos taken,” Ms. Daou said. “In that case, you can put it back on the market within a month or so.”

The decision to delist your home temporarily is specific to each home and each seller, but there are some circumstances when a refreshed listing can result in a sale.


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