Can You Take Your House Off the Market?

Having second thoughts about selling your home isn’t unusual. In fact, 29 percent of sellers temporarily take their home off the market, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018. And that number is even higher among millennial sellers at 45 percent.

Can you take your house off the market?

Yes, as the owner of the home, you can take your house off the market at any time. If you’re selling for sale by owner (FSBO), you can simply remove your listing from everywhere you’re advertising, but you won’t recoup any costs related to marketing.

If you’re selling with an agent, you will be subject to the terms of your contract. Penalties, including an early termination fee, may apply, especially if you request a cancellation of your agent’s contract and then turn around and relist with another agent. But if you’re delisting because you got cold feet, most agents will understand. Whether they charge you any penalties will likely depend how much time and money the agent has already put into your listing.  

Reasons to take your house off the market

There are many reasons sellers delist a home after it’s already on the market. Here are a few of the most common reasons.

Financial circumstances

When your finances change unexpectedly, because of a job layoff, medical emergency or otherwise, you may decide it’s not the best time to buy a new home — which usually means it’s not a great time to sell your current home. Higher interest rates, a brief job history and the price tag of a new home (and higher monthly payment) are all factors that cause people to take their homes off the market for financial reasons.

Stale listing

If your home has been sitting on the market for too long, taking it off the market for a while can be a good strategy. It could help you start fresh with a new pool of buyers. A stale listing can be a red flag for buyers, who might assume there’s something wrong with the property, even if there isn’t.

If you’re selling in a buyers market (where homes take longer to sell because there are more listings than there are buyers) and you either are not receiving any offers or aren’t receiving offers that are worth selling for, you might consider taking your home off the market for a longer period of time, until market conditions shift in your favor.


If your home isn’t selling, it might be worth taking it off the market to do some remodeling that will help attract more buyers. Keep in mind that since you’re still planning to sell, you should focus on renovation projects that would offer you a strong return on investment. Your ROI ultimately depends on the cost of improvements made, your home’s current value (pre-renovation) and what a buyer is willing to pay once it’s improved.

Change of heart

You put a lot of time, effort and love into your home, and for many homeowners, it’s filled with memories. Some sellers don’t realize the emotional attachment they have to their home until buyers come through the door.

Are there fees for taking your house off the market?

Once you’ve decided you definitely want to cancel your for-sale listing, you’ll need to check your listing agreement (if you’re working with an agent) to determine the possible financial repercussions.

Fees for taking your house off the market when selling privately

If you aren’t using an agent to sell your house, you have more flexibility in deciding if and when to take it off the market. You are free to remove your listing from sites like Zillow at any time, assuming you don’t yet have a buyer. If you are already under contract with a buyer, you’ll need to go through the process of canceling your contract if you’re having second thoughts, and that can be a challenge.

Fees for taking your house off the market when listing with an agent

Many contracts between the home seller and real estate agent include a listing agreement cancellation clause to protect the agent from losing the time and money they’ve put into your listing so far.

Full commission: If your agent did everything in their power to sell your home and brought you strong offers but you refused to accept them, the agent could pursue compensation for their full commission.

Marketing fees: If your agent did everything they could to sell your home but you didn’t get any offers and decide to cancel, you may have to reimburse them for marketing expenses.

Do all agents charge a fee to cancel a listing agreement?

Most reputable agents will not charge a fee for taking your house off the market. If they do, it’s usually because of at least one of these issues:

  • The seller was blatantly taking advantage of their services — for example, if a seller received a strong offer, accepted it, then canceled to avoid paying their commission.
  • The seller didn’t give the home a chance to sell.
  • The seller already expressed plans to relist with another agent, even though the first agent was satisfying the terms of their contract.

It’s important to note that most reputable agents are reasonable when it comes to cancellations. If you’ve had a good working relationship, they will likely be accommodating if you have a change of heart or if your financial circumstances shift. Let your agent know as soon as possible that you’ve decided to take the home off the market so they don’t spend any more time and money marketing on your behalf.

When should you take your house off the market?

If you’re thinking of delisting not because of personal circumstances but because you’re not happy with how the listing is performing, understand that timing is everything. Deciding what to do next all depends on pricing, market conditions and seasonality.

After 30 days with no offers

If you’re in a strong sellers market and your home hasn’t seen a single offer in 30 days, the listing price is usually to blame. That’s why finding the right price for your home from the start is so important. If you have to do a price reduction, your home might sit on the market longer and ultimately sell for less.

Keep in mind, though, that every market is different. If you’re selling in a buyers market or if you’re selling a luxury home that naturally has a smaller pool of potential buyers because of the price point, it can take longer than a month to get a good offer.

During slow season

If your home has been on the market for months and winter is approaching, you might be asking yourself, “Should I take my house off the market in winter?” It might be worth delisting for those slow winter months and trying again in the spring.

According to Zillow research, the first half of May is the best time of the year to list in the U.S. Listing during the two-week period between May 1 and May 15 helps homes sell six days faster and for $1,600 more, on average — a 0.7 percent bump in price. The price difference varies by market, of course. On the low end, homes in Atlanta that sell during the optimal window sell for $1,300 more. On the high side, homes in San Francisco see a $10,000 bump. Of course, some of that variability is due to the difference in home prices across markets. 

How to take your house off the market

The actual act of taking your house off the market, whether it’s listed on the MLS or as a FSBO on Zillow and Trulia, is fairly simple and takes just a few minutes. Here are the steps.

Talk to your agent

Your agent has full power to cancel the listing on the MLS quickly and easily, but you need to talk it over with them first and agree on any financial penalties.

If you are delisting because your home isn’t selling, take the time to listen to your agent’s feedback. They can offer insights into why they think it didn’t sell, whether it’s because of timing, because it was priced too high or because it needs repairs.

Remove from Zillow and Trulia

For FSBO sellers with homes displayed on Zillow and Trulia, it’s easy to remove your listing:

  1. Log in to your Zillow profile.
  2. Go to your listing and select Owner view.
  3. Click More and navigate to Cancel listing.
  4. Mark No longer for sale.
  5. Click Update status.

Remove any other online listings

Take inventory of any other places you posted your listing online — like on social media channels, in community groups and on Craigslist. Remove these posts quickly to avoid confusion among buyers.

Can you sell your home off-market?

You don’t have to have your home formally listed on the MLS or on Zillow or Trulia to enter into a contract with a buyer — but it will be much harder to attract an interested buyer, unless you already have one lined up.

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