8 Signs of a Difficult Home Seller

dealing with difficult sellers in real estate

Buying a house isn’t always easy. More often than not, people involved in the transaction make it difficult, not the real estate itself. Not everyone will give you the warm fuzzies. In fact, the seller may be the most challenging of them all. In some situations, it’s best to avoid challenging sellers entirely. On the other hand, if a combative personality is the only thing standing between you and your dream home, the juice may be worth the squeeze. Either way, these early signs indicate that you could have a difficult seller to contend with during the purchase.

Find Your Home on RealEstate.com

1. It’s Hard to Tour the Property

When you're house hunting, you'll want to view a home at least once or twice before submitting an offer. Rational sellers understand this and will do their best to make their homes available for prospective buyers to tour. In some situations, a property cannot be easily shown because it takes great effort to vacate the premises. This is often the case if a home is tenanted or the owners are elderly or handicapped. While these situations are completely reasonable, some sellers make excuses simply because they don’t want to be inconvenienced. A seller who repeatedly fails to accommodate showing requests may be setting the tone for difficult dealings throughout the entire home sale transaction.

2. The Home Isn’t Ready to Change Owners

For the typical seller, bidding adieu to his or her home starts long before the listing hit the market. The process of getting ready to sell a home includes preparing to move. However, some people just aren’t ready to say goodbye. If you walk into a listing that is filled to the brim with personal belongings, clutter and memorabilia, you can assume that the seller will have a hard time parting ways. A basement or garage chock-full of junk that clearly hasn’t been touched in years could spell trouble. A home adorned with so much memorabilia that it looks like a family time capsule is a telltale sign of a sentimental seller. It can be hard for emotional homeowners to move on.

3. There’s a Long Response Time on Offers

Once you’ve submitted an offer to purchase a home, there’s nothing worse than waiting on a response. A seller who drags out the process or who completely ignores your offer deadline can put you in a vulnerable position. You can miss out on another opportunity if you’re tied up with negotiations and an unresponsive seller.

4. The Seller is Unwilling to Negotiate

A seller who wants top dollar for his or her home may be willing to hold out for a buyer willing to pay a premium. Some sellers have completely unrealistic expectations about what their homes are worth and are asking far too much. If a property has been on the market for awhile and has received multiple offers but has yet to go under contract, there’s a good chance that the owners are unwilling to negotiate. Think twice before getting your hopes up, especially if you plan on submitting a lowball offer.

5. The Homeowner is Micromanaging Everything

Stakes are high when selling a large asset like a house. It’s completely normal for a homeowner to want to be involved in the process and kept up to date as the transaction moves forward. What’s not normal is hiring real estate professionals to assist with the sale and then micromanaging every aspect of the transaction. Some sellers can’t help themselves. One type of home seller enlists a REALTOR® yet attends every showing and the home inspection. He or she can’t seem to give up control. Another type of home seller doesn't want a buffer standing between owner and buyer and opts to sell the home on his or her own. As a buyer, this situation may make you uncomfortable, particularly if you find the seller unpleasant to work with directly.

6. Important Information Is Not Disclosed

Disclosures are a key aspect of any real estate transaction. Sellers are required to disclose known defects to potential buyers. Just because they should, doesn’t mean they always do. In some cases, homeowners go to great lengths to cover up issues. As part of your due diligence, you have the right to ask questions pertaining to the property. Tread carefully if a homeowner seems to be withholding information or is trying to conceal damages.

7. Logistical Issues Are Looming

Divorce, financial problems and death can force an unwanted home sale. During these times of hardship, problems can arise that put strain on any seller, which leads to logistical and timing snags. Even when a seller is happy to be moving onto the next chapter, you can still get stuck in the red tape. A common example is when a homeowner needs to identify and purchase a new home before vacating his or her current residence. If you’re buying a home with this sort of contingency, you may feel on edge the entire time, hoping for things to get squared away for the other side.

8. There Are Too Many Parties Involved

Challenges can present themselves when multiple selling parties are involved in the decision set. Such can be the case when you’re working with developers on a new housing project and there’s a group of people with vested interest in the deal. This challenge can also crop up if you’re buying an estate sale with many co-owners. For example, if you place a bid on a family home that was left to several adult children, it could take awhile for everyone to get on the same page.