Common Selling Mistakes

Steer Clear of These 10 Common Home-Selling Mistakes

By SaleCore on 1/27/2021

Selling your home can be time-consuming and emotionally challenging, especially if you’ve never done it before. Half the battle is anticipating issues before they come up, and making sure you are mentally and financially prepared for any less-than-ideal scenarios. It is extremely frustrating when your home is not selling, and knowing that the longer it sits on the market, the less appealing it will become to buyers. Thinking about all that can go wrong and how the consequences of a mistake can impact your finances and your peace-of-mind, might be overwhelming. However, knowledge is power and if you’re aware of some common mistakes to avoid when selling your home, you can be more confident when something doesn’t go as planned.


1. Avoiding Major Repairs

Contractor repairing pipes through damaged wall

To avoid costly surprises once your home is under contract, it is wise to get a pre-inspection giving you time to make repairs prior to putting your home on the market. Prioritize and fix the most glaring concerns, particularly those that will be uncovered during the buyer’s inspection. A long list of maintenance issues can turn buyers off, decrease the value of your home, delay your closing date or even terminate the deal altogether. Fix the issues ahead of time, price the property below market value, or offer the buyer a credit to fix the problem.

2. Having a Cluttered or Dirty Home

Before and after of uncluttered living room

One of the biggest challenges in selling your home is the constant showings to potential buyers. While it is imperative to keep them coming, it can definitely be disruptive to your day-to-day activity. Life is busy and it is difficult to keep your home immaculate at all times, especially if you have children and pets. Clutter distracts buyers from your home’s best features, makes your home appear smaller, and doesn’t allow buyers to envision themselves living there. So, clear every surface, pack up the toys, eliminate odors, clean up stains, and deep clean your house from top to bottom. Make sure you wipe and dust every surface, decoration, and window inside and out, and mop and vacuum all floors and carpets. If you don’t have the time to do it right, hire a professional cleaning service—it will be well-worth the money, and save your sanity.

3. Skimping on Staging Your Home

Before and after of a staged living room

Presenting a well-maintained home and giving a positive first impression is crucial. Staging a home may not sound like a big deal, but skimping on this step is a huge home-selling mistake. The goal is to stage your home in a way that emphasizes the property’s strengths and minimizes its weak points, allowing your home to be shown at its maximum potential. If you opt to hire a professional, they may bring in furniture, artwork, decor, lights, greenery, and area rugs to stage your home. If you’re working on a tight budget, there are many things you can do on your own. Staging a home can be as simple as rearranging furniture or moving large items into storage. Focus on the entryway, living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and master bedroom. Colors and decor should always be neutral. Bright rooms make your home look bigger, so throw back the curtains and shine a light on every nook and cranny! Fill lamps and overhead fixtures with 100-watt bulbs, and add a warm and cozy feel with a few candles and a lit fireplace. Potential buyers should be able to easily focus on the wonderful features of your home and visualize it as a good fit for themselves.

4. Lacking Curb Appeal

Before and after of front exterior of home

The very first impression of your home is the curb appeal, or lack thereof. Preparing the exterior of your home is just as important as staging the interior. A fresh coat of paint for the home, shutters, and door goes a long way. There should be no visible weeds, and trimmed lawn, trees, and other landscaping. Wash the windows and power-wash your siding and walkways. If possible, add an outdoor living space, perhaps a deck or patio. A well-maintained exterior will bring buyers through your door, increasing the likelihood quick sale.

5. Underestimating the Costs to Sell Your Home

Concept of calculating the costs of selling with model house, cash and calculator

Don’t let the costs associated with selling your home catch you by surprise. The total cost to sell a home can amount to much more than the 5-6% in agent commissions that people expect to pay. When accounting for the costs of selling, be sure to include the following, often times bringing the costs closer to 10% or more of the sale price.

  • Home Repairs: Based on nature of issues, it couldcost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • Staging/Photography: Varies by professional, could include initial consultations and other fees.
  • Agent Commissions: Typically ranging from 5-6% of home price to cover agent commissions.
  • Seller Concessions: Negotiations or discounts for lower selling price, or other concessions.
  • Closing Costs: Typically ranging from 1-3% of the sale price, and includes: sales tax, title transfer fees,attorney fees, and title company fees.
  • Moving Expenses: On average, $750 - $2,500 for hired movers, truck, etc.
  • Miscellaneous: Storage, rent, utilities, cleaning company, etc.

6. Choosing the Wrong Agent or Selling Yourself

Concept of selling your home with a REALTOR® versus For Sale by Owner

Not choosing the right real estate agent, or going the “For Sale by Owner” route, can be one of the biggest home-selling mistakes. Be sure to select an agent who has your best interests at heart. Ask for referrals and take the time to interview, check licensing and credentials, and make sure they have plenty of experience selling in your particular area and price point. An agent will help set a fair and competitive selling price for your home, increasing your odds of a quick sale. An agent also helps tone down the emotion of the process by interacting with potential buyers and eliminating those who have no intention of making an offer. An agent will also have experience negotiating home sales, helping you get more money than you could on your own. Finally, agents are familiar with all the paperwork and pitfalls involved in real estate transactions and can help ensure the process goes smoothly, limiting delays or glitches in the deal. Hiring an agent may cost more in commission, but it can take a lot of the guesswork out of selling.

7. Making Pricing Mistakes

Vintage price tag with Right Price printed in red

Asking the right price from the start can make all the difference in how quickly you sell, and how much profit you receive. You may think your home is worth more, but remember to set a realistic asking price based on comparable homes in the area. If you price it too low, you could miss out on thousands of dollars in profit. If you price it too high, you could turn away serious buyers or run the risk of wasting weeks or months before having to reduce the price. The price you want and what the market will pay can be two very different things. In addition, be wary of:

  • Expecting the Asking Price: Most sellers aim to list their homes at a price that will attract buyers, butstill leaving some breathing room for negotiations. Doing this enables the buyer to feel like they aregetting good value, while allowing you to get the profits you need from the sale. Of course, whetheryou end up with more or less than your asking price will depend on your pricing strategy, as well aswhether you’re in a buyer’s or a seller’s market, and how well you have staged your home.
  • Considering Only the Highest Offer: The highest offer, while exciting, isn’t always the best offer. It’scommon in many traditional sales to have contingencies, protecting the buyer’s interests, such as afinancing contingency or an inspection contingency. It’s important to be aware of these types ofcontingencies because they can impact the timeline of the sale, the certainty of the sale, and thecomplexity. You must consider how the added timing and uncertainty compares to a slightly loweroffer without that contingency.

8. Using Poor Quality Listing Photos

Real estate photographer using tripod to take photo of bedroom

As so many buyers are looking for homes online these days, it is absolutely imperative to have quality listing photos that clearly capture your home’s best features. They should be crisp and clear, and taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light. Real estate photographers can make your home stand out against the competition by using correct lighting, angles, and minor details that capture your home’s selling points. In addition, consider adding a video tour or 360-degree view to further enhance your listing.

9. Limiting Showings and Not Accommodating Buyers

Open house sign outside a beautiful stucco home with an immaculate front landscape

If your home isn’t easy to show, it won’t be easy to sell either. While interruptions and added weekend planning may feel inconvenient, it is necessary to accommodate as many buyers as possible. In addition, staying around for showings does nothing but make everyone feel awkward. Leave the questions to the agent and give the buyer space to look around. Be sure to clean and tidy the house, and turn on all the lights before every visit. It’s a lot of work, but stay focused on the end goal.

10. Selling During Winter Months

Comparison of neighborhood covered in snow versus the same view during a warmer season

Depending on your location, Winter is typically a slow time of year for home sales, especially around the holidays. People are busy with social engagements, and the cold weather is definitely not an appealing time to think about moving. Because fewer buyers are likely to be looking, it may take longer to sell your home, and you may not get as much profit. However, while there may not be as many active buyers, there also won’t be as many competing sellers, which can sometimes work to your advantage. Barring any extenuating circumstances that may force you to sell during the winter or holidays, consider listing when the weather warms up. People are usually ready and willing to purchase a home when it’s warmer.

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