Seattle Real Estate Blog by David Monroe

Is There Such A Thing As An Unsellable House?

Is there such a thing as an unsellable house?  There’s a wealth of information available on preparing and staging a house to sell, but what about situations where the house can’t be properly prepared or fixed up to sell?  I work a lot with short sales and pre-foreclosures, and in many of these situations the houses aren’t in great condition.  Often times the seller has no motivation to fix up or clean up the house.

One house I recently sold was no exception.  It was in foreclosure and we had to sell it quickly.  The house was only 13 years old and needed new flooring, interior paint, and some landscaping work, but it looked much worse.  The owner had multiple large dogs that were allowed to go in and out as they pleased and the house smelled like a wet dog.  Nearly every room in the house had boxes, clothing, and other personal belongings stacked floor to ceiling, and some of these rooms were so cluttered that it wasn’t even possible to get inside the room.

 Cluttered House  Cluttered House

In the listing, I requested that agents contact me prior to showing so I could warn them of what they were walking into and help set the proper expectations.  I could see the potential of this house, but most buyers and their agents could not.  Some buyers turned around and walked out as soon as they opened the front door.

Critical Feedback

I always request feedback from agents that show my listings.  I received several scathing comments about this house from other agents:  “Get it off the market!”, “You should be embarrassed for listing this house”, “It stinks!”, not to mention some of the direct insults to the seller even though the agents had never even met the seller.

Seller In Distress

The seller was actually a very nice, thoughtful, intelligent, and hard-working couple.  They got in over their heads on a couple projects, and as a result had a lot of distress in their lives.  They were spending so much time putting out fires in their lives that taking care of the house became a low priority.  Many people are quick to judge because they’ve never been in true distress.  They don’t understand that most people make different decisions when in distress than they would in normal situations.

In the end, this house did sell—The short sale was approved and the bank took a $190,000 loss.  It was sold to a retail buyer, not an investor as many people might assume.  This buyer saw great potential in this house and ended up getting a great deal.

Authored by David Monroe, Realtor and Pre-Foreclosure and Short Sale Specialist.
Access Seattle area short sale help and foreclosure resources including selling in foreclosure, and 8 Ways to Avoid or Stop Foreclosure.

Copyright (c) 2010 by David Monroe (Home4Investment Team at Keller Williams Seattle Metro West).

Comment balloon 3 commentsDavid Monroe • February 08 2010 02:28PM


I believe there's always a way to sell, but it has to be a situation where the use of the property and the type of prospective buyer match the price.  My biggest problems selling are when that arrangment is "off kilter'.  Thanks for the post!

Posted by Chris Grus, GRI, e-PRO (Premier Realty Exclusive) over 9 years ago

There is a buyer out there for every home, but the price of the home must relate to it's condition. I see a lot of poorly maintained homes with retail pricing, which doesn't work in today's sales market. If a home has the "right" price, a buyer will arrive soon...

Posted by Steve Zarry, Austin Central Texas, Real Estate (House Buying Now) over 9 years ago

Any house is sellable if you price it correctly. If its falling down sell it for the price of the land!

Posted by Betty Knowles, TeamKnowles REALTORS® - Springfield MO Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Vanguard - over 9 years ago