7 Ways To Revive A Stale Listing

6 Min Read
Updated Oct. 28, 2022
Written By
Kevin Payne
Young woman with red hair photographing her house for a house listing.

Even in the best housing markets and conditions, homes up for sale can sometimes sit longer than expected. There’s no way to predict when you’ll have a stale listing. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do if one of your listings doesn’t sell quickly. If your client’s home isn’t getting the attention you hoped for, keep reading to learn more about how to revive a stale listing.

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What Is A Stale Listing?

A stale listing is a listed house that’s been on the market for an extended period without an offer. A listing is generally considered stale if it’s been on the market for 3 months or longer. For luxury homes, your listing may sit even longer. According to Concierge Auctions’ Luxury Homes Index, nearly 70% of luxury homes studied in 2019 took over 180 days to sell. Several factors affect a home’s ability to sell, like location and timing. Few things are worse for a real estate agent than having a promising listing sit on the market long term.

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How To Move A Stale Listing

While having a stale listing isn’t ideal, there are several actions you can take to get more eyes on it. 

Run A Market Analysis

One of a real estate agent’s best tools is a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA provides valuable insights on recent home sales near your listing.

Use a CMA to judge whether the listing is priced fairly or if that’s part of the reason you haven’t received any offers. You probably provided a CMA during your first meeting with the seller, but it might be time for an updated version. If the sale price is too high, you may need to discuss lowering it with your client.

Reassess Your Marketing

Even if the listing is a home run, you may not see any offers roll in without a good marketing plan. It’s time to take a step back and look at how you’re marketing the sale, any printed materials or online listings. Focus extra attention on your marketing on social media, too. Consult other real estate professionals or an outside party to get some perspective from a fresh set of eyes.


Staging a home allows potential buyers to picture themselves living there. People shop with their senses, especially with a large investment like a new home. Make sure the seller keeps the home clean. Even the smell of the home can help a potential buyer connect better with the space. Hiring a professional home stager is another option. Sure, there’s an added expense involved, but it may be worth the investment to create a more inviting home environment.

Updating Curb Appeal

Take another drive past the listing. Are there any eyesores outside that could deter potential buyers? Little changes to the landscape or some new plants can go a long way to improve the home’s look. Depending on the time of year, holiday decorations can be a nice extra touch.

Make Needed Repairs

It could be that the home needs some repairs before you’ll get any offers. Many buyers aren’t looking for added repair projects when they are buying a home. Assess the house for anything that could be holding buyers back, like a leaky roof, driveway damage and old appliances or HVAC system. Urge your client to take the necessary steps if the home needs some extra TLC.

New Photography

People are visual. Visit the home’s online listings and study the listing photos. Do they look professional? Most buyers start online, so poor photography could mean the listing isn’t catching anyone’s eyes. Consider the lighting, focus, angles and other details that make for a good home photo.

If you can’t take quality photos with your mobile phone or camera, consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos. Don’t just focus on the house, either. Include photos of the neighborhood, too, especially if that’s a major selling point.

Rewrite The Listing Description

Right behind photos, your listing description needs to be clear and engaging. Similar to staging, a good listing description helps a buyer imagine themselves living in the home. Think of the description as more than just a list of features. You’re painting a picture of the home with your copy. Go back and read the listing out loud to see if it hits the right notes or needs an update.

Should I Repost The Listing?

If you end up with a stale listing, you or your client may be thinking about reposting the listing. There’s no right or wrong answer as to whether relisting a home is a good idea.

Taking a home of the market allows the seller time to address any issues with the home. It’s also a chance to regroup and go over your selling strategy and listing price. One thing to keep in mind is that the listing must be off the market for a specific time based on where it’s located. In many markets, it must be removed up to 90 days or more. That’s 3 months where the home can’t be sold. You may be better off refreshing the listing with some low-cost improvements while keeping it on the market.

If you do end up reposting, it’s a good idea to create new marketing materials and update photos and descriptions. The last thing you want is for people to recognize the home from the previous listing. You could scare away potential buyers who view the home as damaged goods or think the price will eventually drop. 

How To Tell A Client A Listing Needs To Be Revived

No doubt, your client is frustrated if they have a stale listing. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to get to know your client enough to assess how to approach them when changes need to be made.

If you feel that changes are needed to sell the home, be upfront with your client. They may not want to hear it, but they probably already know what needs to change. They may even come to you first and ask why their house isn’t selling. Remember, it’s likely they have an emotional attachment to the home if they’ve lived there a while. You need the right balance of honesty and tact during your dialogue.

If they are resistant to the idea, help them understand by providing some evidence. Show them comparable listings or provide other cases when updating a listing proved to be the right choice. Work with your client to determine the best course of action, especially if extra expenses are involved.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with a stale listing is stressful for real estate agents and buyers. Work with your client to find the best ways to revive the listing. The extra work you put in will be worth the effort, and your client will appreciate your extended help.

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You can get a real, customizable mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation.