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8 Steps On How To Revive Stale Listings

Carey Chesney6-minute read
August 14, 2021


When it comes to selling your client’s home, understanding the needs and preferences of the seller is critical. Success can mean different things for different people, so having a frank conversation about how your clients want the process to go, especially discussing what time frame for a completed sale they prefer, is important.

Even though all clients are unique, the preferred outcome is usually something to the effect of, “Sell my house fast and for the most money possible!” As you prepare to list it, these are the goals that should be at the top of your mind when you initially meet and get to know your client, devise a strategy and implement a listing plan.

However, sometimes things don't go how we’d like them to – in real estate and life. Being able to pivot and adapt is critical. Sometimes houses just sit on the market too long, and no matter how much we do to prevent that, it happens from time to time.

Here we will look at some steps you can take if that home you're selling is sitting on the market a bit longer than you'd like it to be.

What Is A Stale Listing?

A stale listing is a home for sale that has sat on the market longer than it should. In the minds of buyers and their agents, it has become stale. This means they have seen it in person or online and, for one reason or another, have passed on making an offer.

The home you’re trying to sell has become out of sight and out of mind because it’s been out there floating in the ether for too long. How is that time defined? The current market, recent home sales in the area and a plethora of other factors should be considered before dubbing the listing stale.

In a seller’s market, a week or two can be considered a bit stale. In a buyer’s market, being on for a month or two might not even seem stale. If a property is unique and only appeals to a niche group of buyers, sitting on the market for a bit doesn't mean it’s stale. If it’s a style and in a location that appeals to pretty much everyone, sitting on the market for a while is a concern to address right away.

Work with your client before you list to discuss the market and set realistic expectations for how fast the home should sell and when the listing might be considered stale based on the unique circumstance of their house and the surrounding market.

And always remember, it’s better to under promise and over deliver in terms of your prediction on time from listed to sold.

Should You Repost The Listing?

Taking down a listing and then reposting it is one tactic that enables the seller and their agent to have a little time to adjust their strategy. This can mean changing pricing, adjusting the marketing approach or allowing time for larger renovations that might increase the value of the home.

The time that the property needs to be taken off the market before reposting is a critical point of discussion. If there are renovations or family personal issues that need to be addressed, the timeline will be well defined. The key is to make sure it isn’t too quick, though.

Reposting it the very same day, for example, won't be enough to get the stale label off the home in the minds of potential buyers and buyer’s agents.  Keep in mind that sometimes reposting can lead to buyers considering the property as damaged goods or overpriced.

To avoid this, consider not reposting and instead marketing to a new group of potential buyers through new approaches. Beyond weighing these pros and cons of reposting the listing, here are eight other steps to get that stale smell off your listing and get it sold.

Revive Your Stale Listing With These 8 Steps

There are more than a few ways to sell a house, which is good news for sellers who might be stuck with a stale listing. Let’s talk about how to get those showings flowing again.


The most critical element of staging is that it depersonalizes the space so buyers can better envision themselves making the home their own. Pictures of the current family that lives there on the wall only serve to help buyers envision someone else in the home, instead of themselves, for example.

Staging is a great way to create a more inviting environment for the buyer and should be coupled with keeping the home clean and organized. Consider leaving this to the experts if you go this route, as professional stagers have an eye for detail and good knowledge of the right design aesthetic for each specific home, area and time period.

Invest In Curb Appeal

The outside of the home is often the buyer’s first in-person impression. Because of this, the importance of making the outside of the home inviting and well-kept can't be overstated.

Things like modifying the landscaping or just adding a few potted flowers to the front porch can go a long way. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

Take The Listing Photography To The Next Level

Better quality photographs and video will translate to better buyer impressions. It’s just that simple. Investing in a virtual tour is worthwhile as well, since so many buyers want to fully experience the home online before they decide to make the trip to see it in person.

If the outside features are a selling point (like acreage, a pond or lake, etc.) consider drone photography and video to really capture the scope of everything the property has to offer.

Perfect Your Listing Description

A listing description is often the first understanding a buyer has of a home. Having a clear, well-written and engaging listing description helps a buyer picture themselves in the home. Hit on the key selling points, including recently updated rooms or major renovations.

Not feeling like the best writer? You can always leave this one to experts and outsource the description writing.

Openly Discuss Needed Repairs

You probably did this at the first listing appointment, but if not, it’s time to assess the home for any needed repairs that may be holding buyers back. Most buyers want a move-in ready, repair-free, “turnkey” home, and it may be time to have a crucial conversation with your seller about addressing some things that need addressing. 

Implement Market Analysis

Using market research to compare similar listing prices to your own is a great way to see if you priced the home correctly when you originally listed it.  If the price is too high, this may turn off some buyers who think the value is just not there and should be discussed with the seller. If it’s too low, it may actually turn off buyers who assume there must be something wrong with the home if the price tag seems too cheap.

Try New Marketing Tactics

A good marketing plan separates the good listing agents from the great. Do the research about how people look for the type of home you’re selling in that market and plan accordingly.

Any good marketing plan should be fluid as well. Test, retest and then change course as needed. Consider getting a fresh set of eyes on the marketing plan from other agents in your office as well to elicit some feedback and possible new approaches.

Ask For Buyer Feedback

Potential buyers or their agents will usually tell you why they didn't pursue an offer on your listing. This information is worth its weight in gold. Use their feedback for you and your seller to make more informed decisions and figure out how to revive the listing.

How To Tell Your Client Their Listing Should Be Revived

Balancing honesty and understanding is the key when being upfront with your client about needed revival changes. Many sellers have pride and an emotional stake in their homes, so the discussion needs to be approached wisely.

In addition, if a seller is resistant to change, have evidence to back up your suggestions. Potential buyer feedback is a great example of a critical piece of evidence that can back up the advice you’re giving to your client.

The Bottom Line

Reviving a stale listing is an important part of your job as a real estate agent. Tackle it with these steps and be ready for a frank and honest conversation with your client. In the end, they will thank you for it when their home sells.

Carey Chesney

Carey Chesney brings a wealth of residential and commercial real estate experience to readers as a Realtor® and as a former Marketing Executive in the fields of Health Care, Finance and Wellness. Carey is based in Ann Arbor and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he majored in English, and Eastern Michigan University, where he recieved his Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications.