9 Rookie Mistakes for First-time Home Sellers

There are a multitude of potential pitfalls in the process of selling a home. Here are some rookie mistakes first-time sellers make, as well as how to avoid them.

9 Rookie Mistakes for First-time Home Sellers Close
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9 Rookie Mistakes for First-time Home Sellers

Posted by Gary Ashton RE/MAX Advantage on Monday, June 5th, 2017 at 12:05pm.

Mistakes By First Time Home BuyersThere is something to learning from experience. However, life lessons can be particularly painful when it comes to selling a home for the first time. Here are some common first-time seller mistakes and how to avoid them.

Selling by Owner

It may be tempting for sellers to undergo the process of a home sale alone, so that they have total control over every step. After all, real estate agents are expensive, receiving a substantial percentage of the final sale price. They may also want to exert more control over the process than sellers are comfortable with.

However, they are experts, having sold hundreds of homes. They know what works and what does not. They understand real estate contracts and have tips and tricks to help sell a home more quickly. It pays in time, effort and, yes, money to work with a seasoned real estate agent.

Hiring the First Agent Found

Skilled real estate agents are a commodity. Sellers should take the time to find one suiting their needs and with whom they are comfortable. When interviewing real estate agents, keep these considerations in mind: 

  • Getting recommendations. Ask neighbors about their experiences with agents, particularly if they moved within the last few years. Co-workers, PTA groups, fellow church members and so on are also great sources of information.
  • Interviewing multiple candidates. The first agent may sound great, but without a wider sample, there is no one else to compare them to. Cast a wider net.
  • Finding an agent with local expertise. Understanding the local market is vital. It informs the agent (and the seller) what reasonable asking prices are. It can also provide insight on what features are most appealing to buyers in the area. Finally, local agents know of nearby amenities which can be another selling point.
  • Having a good rapport. Sellers can be working with agents for months and, thus, should be comfortable with them. It is difficult to trust the decisions of an agent who makes the seller uncomfortable.

Micromanaging the Agent

Sellers who constantly second guest their agents and do things contrary to the agent's suggestions are all but selling the home by themselves. The agent knows what they are doing and should be trusted, though a seller should always ask for clarification when needed. Sellers repeatedly at odds with an agent should consider getting a new one whose style is more in line with their own.

Setting the Wrong Price 

The problem with setting and overly high asking price is obvious: buyers will simply go elsewhere. However, setting the price too low is almost as problematic. First, of course, it earns the seller less money. But it also leaves buyers suspicious. What is wrong with it that warrants the ultra low price? Dropping the price a bit may attract buyers, but dropping it a lot may have the opposite effect.

Not Marketing the Home

The real estate market is all about putting a home in the best light in front of as many people as possible. As such, simply putting it on the market is not enough.

  • List Online. Online sites allow buyers to browse homes according to a variety of parameters. The majority of buyers today do at least some of their searches online, so sellers need to get their properties listed there.
  • Share on social media. Social media is becoming an increasingly valuable avenue for advertising a home, as you can reach people in new ways.
  • Buy Professional Photos. Buyers love virtual walkthroughs of homes. It helps them decide which ones they should visit. A listing without photos will struggle to catch buyers' attentions, and one with amateur ones will be at great disadvantage.

Remaining Attached to the Home

It can be difficult for sellers to accept their home will soon no longer be theirs. It is even more difficult when they are faced with this quandary before contracts are even signed. Take down highly personal decor such as family portraits, as it helps buyers envision the space as being theirs, which encourages them to buy. Sometimes buyers want things thrown in, things the seller was planning on taking with them. If at all possible, part with them. It can be the difference between sale and no sale.

Not Fixing Problem Areas

Every home has trouble areas. Identify and repair them. This might be something broken, or it could be something tragically out of date. Be critical about any large-scale renovations you want to do, as some have a higher return on investment than others, and some can be unexpected money sinks.

Not Tidying Up

Keep everything clean and tidy inside and out:

  • Vacuum the carpet
  • Clean the tile
  • Completely clear off counters
  • Put everything where it belongs, ideally out of sight
  • Clean windows
  • Paint
  • Mow the yard regularly
  • Weed flower beds 

Waiting to Talk to the Bank about Early Pay-off of Mortgage

Mortgages are generally paid off in monthly installments. It is a good idea to talk with the bank about what exactly needs to be done to pay off the rest once the home is sold.

Selling a home is an extended process, so do not be in a hurry. It is not unusual for homes to remain on market for months. Sellers should listen to their real estate agent and make use of their expertise. It also takes some work on the part of the seller, as there are numerous things they can do to best present their home. Finally, sellers should talk to their lender about their mortgage long before the sale so there are no surprises when that day comes. All of this can add up to a more positive first-time selling experience.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 Real Estate Team in Tennessee and #2 RE/MAX team in the World!


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