Any reason not to take a house off the market temporarily?
February 4, 2008 1:39 PM   Subscribe

What's the downside of taking a house off the market temporarily (say, a couple of months)? My inlaws are trying to sell a house, it's taking a while, and the real estate agent suggested this so it wouldn't seem stale. Any reason not to do it?
posted by languagehat to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Where I live, you can do this on a Monday and put it back up on the Tuesday. It makes the database ping everyone with a new listing. Happens all the time. I don't see any downside.
posted by acoutu at 1:41 PM on February 4, 2008


This happens all the time here (AZ) as well with no negative consequences that I can see. The main issue is that the longer the house is on the market, usually the more people expect the owners to be willing to negotiate on price.

I will say that savvy buyers can usually tell that this has been done with a house. A real estate agent can look up a particular address and see when it has been listed in the past. So, if people look they will be able to tell that it was only off the market temporarily.
posted by bove at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2008


Although I do not know for sure, there may be a fee that the agent has to pay to relist it. But if the alternative is to not sell the house it won't be a big deal.

But as bove said, agents can tell if they look for it. If the house isn't selling, relisting doesn't change the fundamental problems.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on February 4, 2008


No, this is a common and sometimes effective tactic.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2008


I would say that if the existing agent hasn't sold it within a set amount of time (3 months? 6 months?) it's time to list it with a different agent. I want an agent to know I expect results sooner rather than later.

I realize that finding a buyer isn't directly under the agent's control, but I want my agent to be doing everything possible to increase the odds of a sale.
posted by Doohickie at 2:00 PM on February 4, 2008


The longer that a house is on the market, the more likely potential buyers are going to think that there is some issue with it, whether that is a problem with the physical structure of the house, the location, overpricing or whatever. I've seen people takes their houses on and off the market numerous times in an attempt to overcome that perception, but I don't think that this actually manages to fool any well-informed buyers or real estate agents.

As far as reasons not to do, it probably depends upon the conditions in your in-laws' area. In some places, RE prices are already going down fairly rapidly, in others, just plateauing (or stagnating, depending upon your perspective), with a drop in prices likely on the horizon. If your in-laws withdraw their house from the market, in a few months time housing prices could be dramatically lower, in which case even if their house is newly on the market, it is really the price that matters.

I don't know that taking the house off the market is categorically a bad thing, but in your in-laws place, if they really want to sell, I would be taking a realistic look at the RE market in their area and pricing below the most recent sale prices, not monkeying around with more gimmicky things like the property on and off the market.
posted by that possible maker of pork sausages at 2:05 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that most MLS systems are getting wise to these sorts of tactics (cancel & relist being another), and as such are starting to implement "Cumulative Days on Market" fields which will track the property's history through status changes (like TNAS or Cancel). This means that even if you take it off and put it back on, your listing will still show exactly how many days it's been on the market in the past year/6 months/etc. Sometimes a property has to be off the market for a set time (30-60 days is common) before the CDOM resets.

acoutu's information above is correct in some areas but is rapidly becoming incorrect as more and more systems decide that they don't want people gaming the new listings hotsheet. Bottom line though, your MLS is going to keep track of previous listings for your property and how long they're on the market, so even if you take it off and put it back on any agent will be able to figure out that this listing is only showing up as new because of a cancel & relist and has actually been on the market for 6 months or whatever.

I am not a broker, this is not real estate advice, etc.
posted by baphomet at 2:26 PM on February 4, 2008


When I bought my first house seven years ago I specificaly asked my agent to pull up all the previous listings on my house in the previous ten years. I was then able to see that the buyer had previously listed the house six months before and was probably feeling a bit desperate with the most recent re-listing. He was asking $175,000 and I got it for $150,000 (I think my original offer was something crazy like $125,000). There was no way I would pay what he was asking because obviously the market value was not that high. So yeah, there can be negative effects. I am not a saavy real estate flipper, but this re-listing tactic is really well known.

If the house has been sitting on MLS for a few months though, you might want to redo the photos (in my area, the photos of a house surrounded by lush green lawns when I'm shovelling two feet of snow off my driveway really stand out in the listings as dated). I've seen photos by professional photographers (or a photo-saavy home-owners) that are MUCH better than the ones taken by the realtor or realtor's photographer.
posted by saucysault at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2008


We just bought a house this summer. The MLS listings now specify "cumulative days on market" (CDOM) in addition to the time that it has been listed under the current contract. Our house had a CDOM of nearly 300 days in the last year, so we shot them a lowball offer.
posted by Ostara at 3:18 PM on February 4, 2008


Real estate agents or dedicated house searchers will not be fooled, but some people will be and it might be worth it for that. As mentioned above, it can be worth it for the new ping. Can they do some work on some part of it that would seem to justify putting it on or taking it off? Also, if they have it listed without pictures in the MLIS listing or anywhere else on the internet, for pete's sake put up pictures of the nicer looking parts of the house or grounds.

I think winters are supposed to be somewhat slow periods during which to sell homes, so if they can put it back up after the weather starts getting warmer again (and their yard starts doing something in the early spring), I'd suggest going for it.

The only real downside is that, obviously, during the time that you've taken it down, they aren't going to get any offers on it. So if they are really desperate to sell, they may not be able to do this. I would not recommend taking it on and off every other week or so, or people really will notice and wonder what is so awful about this house that it bears repeated relisting.

Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 3:24 PM on February 4, 2008


A negative of taking a property off the market - You can't sell a house if no one is able to look at it. That time that the house is off the market could be the time that THE potential buyer could have found the property and put in an offer. But alas, if it's not even for sale, then it doesn't get sold. Every day counts. Every person that views the house is a potential buyer.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:26 PM on February 4, 2008


I think winters are supposed to be somewhat slow periods during which to sell homes, so if they can put it back up after the weather starts getting warmer again (and their yard starts doing something in the early spring), I'd suggest going for it.

Yeah, this was the agent's thinking.

The only real downside is that, obviously, during the time that you've taken it down, they aren't going to get any offers on it. So if they are really desperate to sell, they may not be able to do this.


They're not desperate; in fact, they'd prefer to be able to spend some time not having to worry about showing the place on short notice.

Sounds like there's no serious downside; the agent knows the market well, so he presumably wouldn't suggest it if the CDOM thing was likely to be a problem in the area. I'll suggest they ask him, though. Thanks, everybody! I'm marking baphomet and onlyconnect as best, but I love you all!
posted by languagehat at 4:07 PM on February 4, 2008


My mother did this for the months of Dec/Jan, for the same reasons mentioned above.

Keep in mind, pulling a house off the MLS doesn't mean it can't be sold, it just reduces the exposure. The sign will stay up in your yard, and the agent can still steer other agents/buyers towards it.
posted by tdischino at 4:36 PM on February 4, 2008


Are they contracted to stay with an agent for a minimum period of time? Could be a downside if they decide to change agents, and the time off the market is not counted against that minimum period.
posted by bifter at 2:57 AM on February 6, 2008


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