Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home

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.

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home Close
Page Summary

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home

Posted by Gary Ashton on Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 at 10:34am.

Mistakes Homeowners Can Make When Selling Their HomesThere 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.

Being able to step back and look at a home objectively does much to help with the home-selling process. Sellers who may not be willing to be flexible with potential buyers or make changes to their home may see less traffic and fewer bids. There are a number of ways that sellers can unconsciously derail the home selling process and make it more difficult to sell a home. An agent with experience selling homes in local markets like East Nashville can make the process easier.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

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.

Not Selecting the Right Agent

A first time home seller may have some difficulties trying to sell a home on their own and even though a real estate agent may need to be paid a commission, a reputable agent may increase the chances of a quick sale.Not only that but an agent can help in staging a home, setting a fair price and alleviating the stress of dealing directly with potential buyers. An experienced agent can assist sellers with negotiating a home sale and help handle any problems that may occur during the home selling process.

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.

Skilled real estate agents are a commodity. Sellers should take the time to find one suiting their needs and with whom they are comfortable.

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 right asking price is important in attracting those buyers most interested in purchasing a home and not turning away potential buyers with a different budget or who do not believe that the asking price is set appropriately for the value of the property. The first 30 days on the market are critical and home sellers will see the most traffic during this window. Underpricing a home can work to generate more interest in a listing while overpricing a home may cause it to linger longer on the market.

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 Willing to Negotiate

Sellers set on a getting their asking price may have a hard time completing a sale. A listed price should leave some room for negotiations. Getting a home's asking price will depend on multiple factors, such as selling during in a seller's market, the steps taken to maintain a home, and home staging efforts.

Not Being Accommodating

It can be difficult to show a home on short notice, but sellers need to make adjustments to accommodate a schedules of potential buyers. It may be inconvenient to clean and organize a home before a home is viewed. However, not making time to sell a home can reduce the pool of potential buyers.

Not Posting High-Quality Photos

The right agent can help a seller take professional photos of a well-staged home. As many people interested in buying a home are looking online, good photos can generate additional interest. Photos of a home should be taken when there is enough natural light available, highlight a property's best assets and be clear. Photos taken using a wide-angle lens are better at capturing an image of an entire room.

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.

Buying a house is not only a financial decision, but an emotional one as well. When a seller thinks back to their first purchase of a home, they may remember the type of lifestyle and dream they had that went along with home ownership. Keeping this is mind, minor upgrades and staging can help a home seller improve the appearance of their home and make it more attractive to buyers, while at the same time creating a sense of emotional distance from the home one is trying to sell.

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.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

Leave a Comment