- Michael Pinter, CEO of Real Property Buyers, LLC, who’s been flipping homes full-time since 2013
- Jennifer Wemert, a HomeLight Elite agent who sells homes 58% faster than the average agent in Orlando, Florida
- Megan Hill, a top agent who works with 68% more single-family homes than the average agent in Montgomery, Alabama
Let’s get started.
Can you take your house off the market?
You can take down the for-sale sign, terminate your listing agreement with your agent, and remove online evidence of your listing so long as you haven’t already gone under contract with a buyer. It’s your house — you can sell it. Or not sell it. You won’t be penalized by listing sites, and if you change your mind in the future, relisting your property won’t be any different.
However, taking your house on and off the market can have repercussions. Doing so can affect the marketability of your home. And, depending on the terms of your listing agreement, removing your listing early could cost you a fee.
The listing agreement is between the homeowner and the brokerage. So if you just can’t have a meeting of the minds with your agent, the broker will step in as a mediator and see if they can find common ground and work out a deal.
Should you take your house off the market?
Whether or not you should take your home off the market is a personal decision that depends on your reasons, your goals, and the repercussions. In some situations, taking down your listing may work out to your benefit or it may be detrimental. We review different scenarios and the repercussions below.
You’re not happy with your agent
According to Hill, the number one reason for a seller to remove their home from the market is a conflict with the agent. If you’re feeling a strain in your relationship with your agent, chances are good that your agent feels it too.
Some of the circumstances that might cause agent/homeowner conflict include:
- Poor performance
- Personality conflict
- Failure to communicate
- Ethics concerns
If you have a conflict with your agent, Hill advises that you contact the brokerage that your agent works for.
“The listing agreement is between the homeowner and the brokerage. So if you just can’t have a meeting of the minds with your agent, the broker will step in as a mediator and see if they can find common ground and work out a deal,” she explains.
But at the end of the day, if the broker can’t resolve the conflict between the seller and the agent, in all likelihood the agent — and the brokerage — will be willing to cancel the listing agreement in order to protect their reputation.
Your listing is stale or you’re only getting lowball offers
If your listing has been sitting 60-90 days or more on the market, taking it down might give you and your agent time to reconsider your strategy and set your days-on-market counter back to zero. From there, you can address these common issues that could be working against you:
If your pricing strategy has missed the mark, taking your house off the market might save you the dreaded price reduction that can make buyers wary. Your real estate agent may agree to take your home off the market to rethink your price strategy, factoring in all the elements of your listing and the market.
Removing your listing and repricing is more like crossing out a sentence written in pen than erasing a pencil mark. Savvy buyers and their agents need only do some simple digging to discover that your home was on the market before, and at a different price point. For this reason, relisting for a price adjustment alone can raise as many questions as reducing the price on your listing.
Listings live and die by their marketing. If your listing hasn’t generated interest in showings, then you’ll want to revisit the marketing strategy to attract more buyers. However, rather than start over with a new listing description and professional photos worthy of a magazine spread, it’s better to enhance or update your listing.
Many buyers today are looking for turnkey homes, and it’s possible that your home just isn’t in marketable condition. If you decide to complete some heftier updates, it may be difficult to keep the house clean and ready for showings. Instead of driving yourself crazy with a dustpan, your agent will recommend you pause your listing or take your home off the market until updates are complete.
“In some cases, our properties don’t sell at the price we list them. We’ll renovate a room or two, and in one case, we remodeled a kitchen,” explains Pinter.
You’ve discovered a problem that needs repairs
In the event that a system breaks down or you realize a bigger problem that requires immediate attention, you may want to pause or remove your listing or put it on hold while you take care of it. Common household repairs that warrant taking your home off the market include:
You want to make an improvement to increase home value
If you’re not getting the showings or offers you expected, you might pause or remove your listing to make superficial upgrades. Such improvements include:
You’ve had a change of heart
Maybe offers start rolling in and instead of excitement, there’s dread in the pit of your stomach. Some of the reasons you might experience seller’s remorse include:
- Emotional or sentimental attachment
- Selling objectives have changed
- Realization of an impact you hadn’t considered earlier
When in doubt, talk to your agent. If you’re not motivated or emotionally prepared to sell now, it might be time to pull your place from the market. Removing your listing because you don’t want to leave is perfectly justifiable.
You’ve had a change of circumstance
Stressful life changes can make it difficult or impossible to sell your home. It’s reasonable to ask your agent to remove your listing for any of the following reasons:
- A relocation falls through
- Health issues
- Loss of a job
- A financial crisis
- Change in family or relationship status
“If the homeowners are going through a divorce, the sale of the home might become a case for the court, and the listing will need to be put on hold or removed altogether until it’s resolved,” explains Hill.
If you experience a change in circumstance, it’s rare for an agent to hold you to a listing agreement that includes a fee, says Wemert. “If your life experience changes, we don’t want to hold you hostage.”
When might pulling your listing do more harm than good?
Removing your listing could be a great reset, but it’s not always the best decision. Selling a home does take some time and patience, and resetting the clock on your sale won’t always be the answer. Don’t rush to remove your listing if:
You’ll be in a rush to relist
If you plan to remove your home from the market to get a fresh days-on-market number, it’s not as simple as resetting a computer. Depending on what state you live in, you may need to wait before relisting your property on the multiple listing service (MLS) as new.
You can try relisting your home with a new agent. However, Wemert points out that there can be drawbacks to switching agents.
“Maybe you hired the wrong agent the first time and you racked up a bunch of days on the market. But even if a new agent comes back in with the best marketing system, they’re still working against their days on the market. In Florida, you have to stay off the market for 60 days before you can reset your days on market,” Wemert explains.
You hope to hide the home’s listing history
It’s a bad idea to try to hide the listing history if, for example, your home was overpriced or a sale fell through due to issues with an inspection.
Removing your listing doesn’t erase the history of that property, says Wemert. “Savvy agents and consumers can see the history. It helps a little bit removing the stigma with the days on the market, but it doesn’t just erase previous attempts to sell.”
You’ve entered a slow season
Wemert urges sellers to think twice about removing their listing from the market during a slow season. “If we’re having trouble selling property, the worst idea is to take it off in the fall because we have less competition then,” she explains.
In a slower season, buyers have fewer options and your listing is more attractive. Spring isn’t the only time to sell a home — consult HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator to get a better idea of trends in your area. Don’t pull your listing just because temperatures are cooling down, it could be the time your offers start to heat up.
If you’re concerned about showing your home on the holidays, Hill recommends you put your listing on hold on those days.
You’re in the middle of a deal
It’s very difficult to back out of a sale and you can’t do it by pulling your listing. Additionally, there may be financial repercussions to relisting with another agent after you’ve received an offer. You’ll probably end up paying three commissions when that transaction closes.
“Typically, what happens is you’re going to hire a transaction broker to oversee the deal and you’ll pay the full commissions to them and the buyer’s agent. Then, you’ll also pay the commission due to the first agent,” Hill explains.
Are there fees for taking your house off the market?
If you cancel your listing agreement before it expires, you might be required to pay a fee that covers the agent’s time and services, which may be any or all of the following:
- A cancellation fee
- Reimbursement for fees the agent incurred for professional services, such as photography, staging, advertising
- The commission the agent would have earned
However, most agents will find a way to work with you on this. “If you’re not happy with our services, it’s most likely going to be a mutual decision and we want what’s best for you. In our contracts, we just cross the marketing fees out most of the time,” explains Wemert.
If your listing agreement doesn’t include an early termination clause, then you likely won’t incur any fees or penalties for removing your listing.
Can I sell my home off-market?
After you take your listing down, you can sell your home off-market. An off-market sale is a private, direct transaction between the seller and the buyer, and may be done with or without an agent. Your off-market selling options include selling to:
- House flippers
- Buy-and-hold investors
- Simple Sale for cash
- Friends or family
Be warned that off-market sales can take longer to sell and often sell for less. In addition, depending on your listing agreement, if you sell your home off-market without your agent, you could be sued by the agent or brokerage.
Most real estate agents include a protection period or safety clause in their contracts, explains Wemert: “If we brought anyone to that property, even after we cancel within 180 days, we are protected on that sale.”
How can I remove my listing from the market?
If and when you decide to take your house off the market, you must remove it from MLS and other real estate listing sites. It’s your agent’s responsibility to delete the MLS listing, explains Wemert.
“It’s very easy to pull your listing off of the MLS. And usually, when you pull it off there, it will pull it off all the other platforms as well.”
After your MLS listing is removed, it can take up to 24 hours for your listing to be removed from sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. We explain below how to remove those listings yourself.
Zillow and Trulia
If you’ve listed your home for sale by owner (FSBO) on Zillow, you can log into your account and delete the listing using the following steps.
- After logging in, go to My Zillow.
- Select “Listings.”
- Go to “Owner View.”
- Select “More” and “Cancel Listing.”
- Select, “No Longer for Sale” from the drop-down menu.
- Select “Update Status.”
Zillow provides listing information to its partner site, Trulia, so once you’ve removed your listing from the MLS and Zillow, it will no longer show up on Trulia. If photos of your home are still up 24 hours after you’ve pulled your listing, you can contact the site and ask that the photos of your property be removed.
Realtor sources listings from the MLS, and only agents can access listings through the site’s professional dashboard. Once your listing is pulled from the MLS, your Realtor listing should also come down. However, photos of your home may continue to show up after it’s been removed from the MLS. To have them removed, you’ll need to contact Realtor’s Customer Care team.
Be prudent about removing your house from the market
Under the right circumstances, taking your house off the market could be the best move for you. Whether you need to pause to renovate or refresh the property, stay in your home longer than you’d anticipated, or find a new agent, it gives you time to reset and plan your next steps.
If you’re considering taking your house off the market, review your listing agreement and explain the situation to your current agent. Depending on the terms of your agreement and your situation, your agent may be willing to tear up the agreement for a fee. In some cases, you may not incur any fees at all.
If you decide to relist with a new agent, research and interview the agents in your area to find a better fit. Consider the agent’s communication style, average days on market, and personality. A top agent who has experience selling homes like yours, and who knows how to price and market a home, will bring the best value to your home sale.
Need help finding a top agent? Try HomeLight’s free Agent Match service, which takes all the above factors into consideration. It takes just two minutes for HomeLight to match you with the best real estate agents in your area, who can successfully guide you through your entire selling experience.
Writer Emma Diehl contributed to this story.
Header Image Source: (Anna Sullivan/ Unsplash)