Thinking about taking your house off the market? You’re not alone. Plenty of people go through the same thought process, and for numerous different reasons. Question is, can you? 

Let’s take a look.

Can I take my house off the market at any time?

will i pay fees if i take house off the market copy

The quickest way to answer this is to say, yes, any time before you exchange contracts

Once contracts have been exchanged, you are entering into a legally-binding agreement with your buyer, so you are, therefore, committed to the sale.

Do you have to pay an estate agent if you decide not to sell?

This depends on the contract you have with your estate agent. Many agents will write into their contracts a demand that you keep the property on the market with them for a set duration. 

This can range from a single week up to three months or more and will be worded along the lines of: neither party can cancel the agreement during the first XX weeks.

Can an estate agent charge a withdrawal fee?

take house off market fees copy

Yes, it’s perfectly legal for an estate agent to charge a withdrawal fee but, again, they have to be upfront about it before you agree to use their services. Check and double-check the contract before you sign.

In most instances, a withdrawal fee will only be for a set period of time at the beginning of the listing, as mentioned above. 

Why? Well, estate agents put a lot of time and effort into each listing (at least, they should), so tying the seller into the contract for a short period makes sense from a business standpoint. 

Furthermore, if you think there’s a likelihood of you needing to pull out within a month, now probably isn’t the best time for you to go to market anyway, so it works both ways.

Why do people take their house off the market?

The reasons why people come to the decision to take their house the market varies almost as much as why they decide to sell up in the first place. While there are some weird and wonderful one-off reasons out there, here are some of the more regular rationales people have for deciding not to sell:

Refresh the listing

This is an extremely common reason, and it does have its merits…providing it is done correctly. For whatever reason, some listings simply go stale. On paper, they look great. Viewings go well, too, but still they remain on the market for months on end.

Houses and apartments that have been on the market for an age automatically cause buyers to raise an eyebrow. Is it a red flag? What does everyone else know that I don’t? There must be something wrong with it if it hasn’t already been snapped up, right?

Nine times out of 10, there’s absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with the home, but that doesn’t stop prospective buyers from questioning it. So, taking the property off the market for a while, letting it rest, and then relisting it can be a great strategy.

However, there’s a key point to remember here. A few years back, there were concerns about this practice happening far too frequently. This came about due to the rise of property portals online and the ease with which buyers could check up on things like how long a property has been listed for.

So, to combat any underhandedness and so-called portal-juggling, all of the main property portals decided to change their terms of service. Rightmove, for example, used to allow sellers to relist a home as a brand new listing just a fortnight after taking the old listing down.

Now you’ll have to wait 14 weeks.

With these new rules in place, a quick refresh is no longer an option. In short, if you need to sell sooner rather than later, you may be better off speaking with your agent about how they can push the property in other ways.

SIDENOTE: As reputable agents with both buyers and sellers best interests in mind, we wholeheartedly support the changes made by the property portals. 

Change of circumstances

Sometimes, life just gets in the way of our plans. The list of ways in which our personal circumstances can change is endless, so we won’t aim for a comprehensive breakdown here. 

Monetary concerns

This often ties in with the above point and, equally, can take many forms. If your house has been on the market for a little while, a lot can change. People lose their jobs, get divorced, find out child number three is on the way…you name it.

The one thing that brings all of these reasons together is this: They can all lead sellers to question their financial situation and potentially reassess whether or not they want to go ahead with their property sale after all. 

Change in the property market

Another incredibly common reason for sellers changing their minds, especially those whose home has been listed for a while, is a change in the property market. Sometimes you can enter into a favourable market, but things don’t go your way. Then, before you know it, the wind has changed course and you’re sitting in an extremely unfavourable market.

So, if you find your seller’s market has switched sides, you might want to reconsider your sale.

Improve, not move

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this usually comes about after being on the market for a while. Some sellers simply decide that they don’t really want/need to move, so they opt for a radical property overhaul instead.

Providing you can put up with headaches that come with such home improvements, this can be a good idea, especially if the market has taken a turn for the worst. After all, once the work has been completed, you can always re-enter the market with your newly designed property as the home’s new focal point or stay put and enjoy it yourself.

Change agents

It’s an unfortunate truth…not all estate agents are as good as Petty Son and Prestwich. Sorry to break it to you so bluntly!

If you decide your estate agent isn’t performing to the standard you expect, it can definitely be a good idea to start afresh with someone new. How do you make sure it doesn’t happen again? Well, you can use our step-by-step guide to choosing the right estate agent this time around.

You’re welcome!

Cold feet

When all is said and done, some sellers simply change their mind. They may not even have a solid reason, just a gut feeling. And that’s absolutely fine. Selling property is a huge step, so you need to be 100% confident that now is the right time. If it isn’t, contact your estate agent as soon as possible and let them know.

Petty Son and Prestwich have been helping sellers sell and buyers buy for well over a century. Established in East London back in 1908, we now work across the capital, helping homeowners make their move smoothly and in a stress-free way. 

If you’re based in or around the capital and would like to make your next move, give our friendly team of experts a call. We’d love to talk through your options and welcome you into the Petty’s family. 

Article By: Elaine Robinson

Elaine has worked in the property industry for 13 years.  She is a formidable character. Her no nonsense style, capability and attention to detail is what makes her one of the most respected sales progressors in the business.

020 3370 8785 / Email Directly