7 Mistakes People Make When Selling A Home (and how to avoid them)

Rick Sheppard
Published on May 2, 2022

7 Mistakes People Make When Selling A Home (and how to avoid them)

1. SELLING YOUR HOME ON YOUR OWN INSTEAD OF USING A REALTOR®

You’ve undoubtedly seen “For Sale By Owner” signs, also known as FSBOs, in your neighborhood and have questioned if you need to hire a real estate agent. It’s tempting to sell by yourself to avoid paying a percentage of your home’s sales price to a real estate agent. However, before you decide to represent yourself, you should understand that the listing process is time-consuming and costly as you do all the photography, marketing, showings, and negotiations without support from an experienced agent. By the end, you may be asking yourself, was it worth it? Plus, year after year, studies by the National Association of REALTORS® show that FSBOs typically sell for less than a home sold by a real estate agent. Choosing to work with a trusted REALTOR® mitigates your risk of missing out on potential buyers and sitting on the market too long (typically, a sign that something is “wrong” with a property). Hire representation who knows the local market, puts your home in front of the most buyers, handles the paperwork and showings, and negotiates the best offer to make the processes less stressful from prep to closing.

2. PRICING TOO HIGH

Chances are, the first price you have in mind for your home is high, and you think you “can always come down if need be.” However, if you sell your home at an unreasonably high price for your market, you may miss out on buyers searching in at a lower price point who could ultimately fall in love with your home and offer more than they were initially looking to spend. You want to launch your listing at the price that will generate the most online interest in your home ahead of its first open house, and the more people that tour in person, the more likely you are to get multiple offers. Plus, in a hot market, price drops signify to potential buyers that they won’t face competition or don’t need to move fast. Most home sellers want to avoid their house sitting on the market for 15, 30, or 60 days. When you work with a knowledgeable REALTOR®, they put their experience to work for you by researching your area and neighborhood and by gathering specifics on recently sold homes. They’ll also consider improvements you’ve made to your home and opportunities to present the home’s best features to buyers looking in your neighborhood based on local trends—that way, you can both be confident your home is listed at the right price when it debuts on the market.

3. IGNORING THE VALUE OF CURB APPEAL

First impressions matter. An unkempt lawn, a messy patio, flaking house or trim paint, and missing roof shingles create questions for buyers about how well the home’s been maintained and what repairs they may need to take on. Before selling your home, take the time to spruce up the outside areas. Cut the lawn. Trim any overgrown bushes. Pressure wash windows and siding. Rake leaves. Sweep off patios. Beautify garden beds with new flowers in warmer months or add flowered pots for that pop of color. If your outside spaces are well-maintained, prospective buyers won’t have a reason to conclude otherwise.

4. CHOOSING A REALTOR® THAT DOESN’T USE CUTTING-EDGE MARKETING

If you’ve ever been to a blockbuster movie debut, you probably recall long popcorn lines and a crowded theater. A week after the release date, that same theater is much less full, and one month later, you may get a whole seating row to yourself. Home selling follows this same pattern of traffic. That’s why it’s essential to choose a relator® with a strategic marketing plan that ensures your home gets a lot of buzz around its MLS listing debut. Plans should include high-quality professional photographs and innovative digital advertising strategies targeting and capturing interested buyers on the internet and social media. A skilled realtor® who uses cutting edge marketing knows how to get your home noticed by as many potential buyers as possible and get the attention of other realtors® who are already working with out-of-town buyers that can be hard to reach. If multiple buyers compete for your home, it can sometimes start a “bidding war” where you get to decide who buys your home and usually at the highest price.

5. FAILING TO DECLUTTER AND PREP YOUR HOME

Homes are in the best position to sell when they are new on the market, so you want your home to be in top shape before your first showing. Just like you prepped the outside of your home, you’ll want to take great care inside and look at everything from the viewpoint of a prospective buyer. Clear out the clutter, including the garage, clean everything, take down personal photos, and fix the small things (like lightbulbs and door hinges) that aren’t working. You don’t need to paint your entire house, but knowing how to fix up and stage your home can help you sell your home for more money. Once your home is in top shape, tidy up and re-stage your home before each showing. A knowledgeable REALTOR® will have tips for selling your home, including several easy and inexpensive things you can do to make your home more attractive to buyers.

6. NOT BEING EMOTIONALLY READY TO SELL YOUR HOME

Buyers need to envision themselves living in your home, which means you’ll need to depersonalize and possibly rearrange your spaces. If you are not mentally prepared to let go of sentimental ties to the property, the process of selling your home will feel overwhelming. You’ll likely face extra stress, and your attachment may hinder objective decision-making that gets your home sold in a timely fashion. Before you decide to put your home on the market, be sure you’re fully on board and why right now is the best time to sell your home.

7. NOT UNDERSTANDING THE CONTRACT (PURCHASE AGREEMENT)

A contract is a legally binding agreement involving laws and regulations. An improperly written contract could cause a sale to fall through and still cost you thousands in repairs and inspections. Before signing, know what repairs and closing costs you are responsible for and what you are not. You also need a review of your title to see if your property is in conflict with local restrictions or laws. A competent REALTOR® will help you understand the contract and walk you through the closing process to avoid problems!

BONUS – 3 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN HIRING A REALTOR®

  • SIGNING A LISTING AGREEMENT THAT CAN’T BE CANCELLED

Once you’ve selected your REALTOR®, you will sign what’s called a listing agreement, which means you’re giving permission for your agent to find a buyer for your home. It also outlines the type of commission your real estate agent will receive once the sale is completed. Always read through transaction paperwork thoroughly and be sure any listing agreement you sign has a cancellation clause. A professional REALTOR® will have a written performance guarantee included in their listing agreement. You should have the flexibility to modify or cancel your listing agreement, so you are always in control when selling your home.

  • HINDERING OFFER NEGOTIATIONS

An expert REALTOR® knows the exact questions to ask potential buyers to determine their motivation for buying and what price they can afford. It’s not recommended home sellers be present at showings, as it distracts and deters buyers. You also want to refrain from sharing “why” you’re selling your home with potential buyers. If you’re on a tight timeline or are selling due to financial hardship (for example), a buyer’s agent may use this information to their client’s advantage.

A REALTOR® is someone you hire to work for you, so it makes sense to take your time and interview multiple agents to find a trustworthy REALTOR®. It may be tempting to work with the first real estate agent you talk to, but you’ll want to make sure to do your homework. Check out their reviews online, and don’t hesitate to ask for client references. During the interview process, you’ll want to look for a dedicated REALTOR® who understands your market, is a good communicator, has top-notch negotiation skills, uses innovative marketing techniques, and has a track record of selling homes. Taking the time upfront to evaluate your choices can make a huge difference when selling your home and how smooth the process goes.

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