Days on Market – What causes a house to stay on the market?
I read a post yesterday by someone who was wondering what was wrong with a house that had been on the market for nearly a year. The post got me thinking about some of the reasons I’ve encountered as to why homes stay on the market for months or sometimes years. While there can be a legitimate problem with the house (mold, structural issues, etc), sometimes the lengthy on-the-market time has nothing to do with the house.
Case in point:
My buyer clients were looking for a colonial style home, with other specific characteristics. As we looked and discarded various possibilities, one kept popping up. It was a colonial home that met my client’s high level requirements, and was in the right general price range. But it had been on the market for nearly a year.
That was the first question my clients had. Nothing looked wrong on paper, the pictures looked great, so off we went to look at it. A few days later we went back again. Nothing seemed amiss; the home seemed structurally sound, all the information (taxes, square footage, etc) was fine, we found no mold or other issues, so they made an offer and after a bit of negotiation, we had an accepted offer. My clients had an inspection and again, no major issues were found. There were a few minor things they requested the seller fix, and the seller said fine, so next step was the contract. So far so good.
In our state, the contract is drafted by the seller’s attorney. It is then sent to the buyer’s attorney for review/changes/signatures. After that, it is sent back to the seller’s attorney for full execution by the sellers. The contracts were a little slow to be sent over to my client’s attorney, but they arrived and were signed. Then they were sent back to the seller’s attorney for signature.
And then the real fun began.
To provide the very short version of the saga, the sellers were in the middle of a divorce, which by itself is not a problem. However, it was a bitter acrimonious divorce. Mr. & Mrs. Seller weren’t even speaking to each other. Everything went through their attorneys. There was a lot of mis-communication and after about a month of issues, in the end Mrs. Seller refused to sign the contract because Mr. Seller would not pay off a totally unrelated-to-the-house-sale-but-related-to-the-divorce charge card bill. The deal died, and then we found out that this was not the first deal that failed for this home.
And so in this particular case, the 300+ days on market was not caused by anything wrong with the house. It was caused by sellers who were not making selling their home a priority. They were simply not ready to sell.
Sometimes a house that is sitting on the market is wonderful but the sellers are not ready to sell.