Just as a slice of bread will quickly go stale sitting on top of your kitchen counter, real estate will go stale if it sits on the market too long. And, brokers can get stale trying to sell a home that has been on the market for a long time.

How long? Some brokers get that blah, uninterested feeling after a few months. Others remain fresh even if your home has been for sale for a year or more.

What are the signs that your agent may appear to be losing interest in marketing your home?

  • Your home has been listed for more than nine months without an offer.

  • Your broker doesn’t return your telephone calls and doesn’t check in with you on a weekly basis.

  • There are few, if any, showings at your home.

  • The broker does not hold broker’s opens or weekend open houses.

  • The broker has asked you to lower the price and you’ve refused.

  • Your broker goes away on vacation without telling you.

  • Your property is rarely, if ever, advertised in the local paper.

  • You call your broker and he or she doesn’t remember who you are.

If you find your property has become stale, or that your broker has lost interest, it’s probably past time to take some action. There are a handful of things you can do to reinvigorate your home. Consider these options:

  • Lower The Price. Sometimes an agent loses interest because he or she allowed you to list your home at a higher than suggested price and you have since steadfastly refused to recognize that you are overpriced for your market. If your home has been on the market for four weeks without a single showing, and property is selling in your neighborhood, you should re-evaluate your pricing decision.

Have your agent find out what is the average number of days a property is listed before it sells in your neighborhood. Also, find out how much below the list price property sells for. Armed with these numbers, get some recent “comps” (sales price of comparable property in your neighborhood), then price your home so that it meets the market.

  • Change Agents or Brokerage Firms. Even if you’ve just renewed your listing for another 90-day period, you may want to sit down with your agent and his or her managing broker and discuss the situation. Ask the agent what can be done to sell your home as quickly as possible. Sometimes the agent will suggest you switch agents or firms. You might find out the agent was hoping you’d take the listing away but was afraid to ask you to cancel the listing agreement.

A new agent or brokerage firm might have a different approach for marketing or advertising your home. And, other agents in a new firm might have more buyers who are looking for homes in your price range.

  • Take Your Home Off The Market. If your home has been listing for more than six months without any activity, consider removing it from the multiple listing service. Brokers who see a home listed for months may start to imagine there is something wrong with your property, simply because it hasn’t sold. If your home develops such a stigma, it will be hard to counteract, and you may ultimately sell your home for much less than you imagined.

One way brokers know how long your property has been listed is by the code number it is assigned when it is originally put on the market. These codes change each January 1, so if your listing is left over from last year, brokers may think it’s old, even if you listed it December 31. Relisting your home may freshen its appeal.

  • Re-Assess Your Curb and Interior Appeal. One reason your home — and your broker — may be getting stale is that your home isn’t in as good a shape as it could be for the price you’re asking. If you have dated, or colorful decorating, you may want to give your walls a coat of fresh, white paint. If your exterior landscaping is lackluster, consider putting out pots of colorful flowers in the spring, summer or fall, and keeping your walks and driveway neatly shoveled in winter.

Cleanliness may be a major factor. Spend some time to thoroughly clean your home before each showing. Make sure there are no dustballs on the floors or grime in the bathroom sink. There’s nothing that turns off buyers or brokers faster than dirty clothes strewn all over the bedroom floor.

March 18, 1996.