Making the wrong moves when selling your house can keep buyers away while keeping you awake at night. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sure, selling your house is never easy, but avoiding home seller mistakes can be if you know what to expect. You did a great job saving for your first house and making your mortgage payments, and now you’re gearing up for your first sale.
To help keep your home sale trouble-free and put you in a good position to buy your next house (the ultimate goal), we’ve got some simple but oh-so-important tips for you.
Want to avoid the top home seller mistakes so you can come out on top? Great! These tips are super manageable and will make a HUGE difference.
Tip 1: Don’t Get in Your Feelings Before Selling Your Home
When selling your house, take a cue from Elsa in “Frozen” and “let it go.”
It’s easy to get in your feelings about moving on from the place where you’ve made so many happy memories over the last couple of years, but now you’ve got to look at your house through the eyes of a buyer who has their own life, goals and preferences. Your house means something different to them than it does to you.
Don’t sabotage your sale by clinging to aspects of your house that may make it less sellable. This is one of the biggest home selling mistakes.
A mural celebrating your love of all things “Game of Thrones” might turn off a buyer. Just sayin’.
It’s important to go through your house with a critical eye, scanning for decor, styles, features and artwork – whatever reveals your unique taste – and restage it in a way that will appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. A great real estate agent will be able to help set you up for success in this area.
Remove the fam, fam
Now for some real talk.
Pack away the family photos. It might seem silly, but family photos tend to make it harder for home buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.
Accept any advice (and criticism) from your real estate agent regarding how your home appears to buyers and how to improve it.
Don’t push back on even the most hurtful stuff. Remember: Your agent is here to make money by helping YOU make money, and they know how to do it.
Don’t take it personally. It’s a business transaction.
It may be hard to let go of your home and emotionally distance yourself from it, but at the end of the day, it’s just a house. OK, we know it’s not JUST a house; it’s full of memories, too. But you’ll be taking those with you. 😊
Tip 2: Think Twice About For Sale by Owner (FSBO)
You may be down with FSBO, but few home sellers have the real estate know-how and knowledge of home sale finances and trends to be able to sell their own homes.
Maybe you’re an exception and could flex some serious real estate smarts, but is it worth taking the risk?
Most people who list their own homes and act as their own agent do it to avoid paying agent commissions – but beware. Houses listed by real estate agents usually sell quicker and for more money than comparable homes sold by owners.
Selling a house FSBO-style is a full-time second job. If you go that route, you’ll definitely want to keep some stuff in mind.
Set aside time for some detailed research. If you’re not already in tune with the market, you’ve got extra work ahead of you to list your house at the perfect price, not too high and not too low.
Showing your own house can also be challenging, to say the least. There are nuances to pulling off a successful showing, and you’ll want to get it right the first time.
I’m picking up really sketch vibes
Speaking of which, can you market your house like a boss? Good real estate agents are good for a reason. Do you have the skills and the time to add marketing and networking to your extensive to-do list? If that’s a yes, there’s a time management self-help book in your future.
Listing your house with sketchy photos can scare off a lot of home buyers. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional real estate photographer, your listing could end up bringing more LOLs than interest when buyers check it out online.
Tip 3: Get the Bag: But Don’t Get Greedy When Pricing Your Home
It might be counterintuitive, but the more realistic you are about pricing your house when you sell it, the more money you’ll have sooner.
That’s because overpriced houses tend to sit on the market for a long time.
Not only does that delay your home sale until you’re forced to bring the asking price down, but it might give your house a stigma when home buyers see that it’s been on the market longer than similar houses.
They might wonder if the house needs major repairs or if it’s haunted, which can lead to them ghosting you and your home. 👻
Price it right: Comps and appraisals
Comparable homes (aka comps) are the best way to come up with a price people will actually pay for your house. Comps are basically nearby homes that are a lot like yours and were recently sold.
If there aren’t any similar houses near you that have sold in the last 3 – 6 months, consider getting an appraisal, which is when a trained pro comes in and looks at every little detail of your house to figure out what it’s worth.
Set the asking price using one of the above methods. If you use a real estate agent to handle it, take their advice on how to price your home – whether you like it or not.
Don’t demand a price based on what you want the profit to be or what you think your home is worth. If a realistic price will keep you from making a profit, consider living there longer until you’ve paid down more of your mortgage, or if it’s possible, rent it out.
Also, be fair in negotiations. Some give and take is a part of the game. Let’s say your seller is worried about closing costs. Maybe you could help them cover the costs with the understanding that you won’t be as flexible adjusting the sale price.
Tip 4: Don’t Hide Anything When Selling a House With Issues
Before selling your home, you’re going to need to make note of everything you know is wrong with your house in a seller disclosure.
No Cap: Tell the truth (and nothing but) about your house’s condition
Don’t hold back.
Honesty now means less risk of sale delays (or even lawsuits) later.
If you use a real estate agent (or you’re buddies with a home inspector who will do this for free), do a quick walkthrough with them. They’ll probably be able to spot other issues you didn’t even know about.
Whatever the problem, even if it’s a big, scary one to home buyers, put it in the disclosure. Your agent can help you adjust the sale price to make the problem less of a deterrent to buyers.
Aside from being morally questionable, not telling buyers about past fires, water leaks, foundation repairs and other damage could jeopardize your deal.
If a home inspection ordered by a potential buyer brings these issues to light, the buyer might back out of the deal, which they have the right to do during the due diligence period.
Tip 5: Keep Your House on the Glow Up Until It’s Ready for Its Closeup
Make your house look better than ever. One of the biggest home selling mistakes out there is to not prepare for showings. It doesn’t take much to make a bad first impression.
A home that is properly staged will feel nicer. And let’s be honest, it just hits different.
If you saw a messy lawn, spider webs in an entryway and a broken front doorknob, what would you think? Home buyers are no different.
Put your best foot forward. You know the house for sale down the street probably is.
Take care of all the simple repairs you may have been putting off. Sticky cabinet drawers, leaky faucets, broken gutters … Deal with all of it, or expect trouble with a sale.
If you need to hire help to take care of it all, do it. But if you want to play it financially safe, double check with your real estate agent to make sure it’s something worth doing before you pay someone to do it.
Once you get things fixed, keep them working and clean.
Sweep, dust and vacuum regularly. Don’t forget the windows, either. Not an easy thing to clean, but don’t forget the tracks the windows sit in and get all that gunk. No idea what it is, but it’s gotta go!
Tip 6: Don’t Just Guess What To Fix When Selling a House
Some carefully selected, bang-for-the-buck renovations can more than pay for themselves by increasing the sale value of your house, like replacing dated appliances with new stainless-steel ones.
However, don’t get going on a renovation just because you assume anything new is good.
Some renovations might not raise your sale price enough to justify the costs, even if they’d look great in a magazine article.
If a renovation is too amazing, compared to the rest of your home or to other homes in the neighborhood, you probably won’t get back what you put into it.
And of course, avoid any renovations that don’t reflect current trends or are strange and unusual. Keep it on-brand but generic enough to attract the most home buyers.
Tip 7: Don’t Get Surprised by the Cost of Selling Your House
Preparing to sell your house and paying closing costs can take a bite out of your expected profit.
It can be exciting to start researching what your house might be worth when you’re ready to sell. And if your real estate agent lists it at a price that’s even higher than that, it can get REALLY exciting.
But remember that you’ll need to pay closing costs (including for the buyer, if they’ve negotiated that). And if you’re not selling your house yourself, agent commissions are going to swallow up even more of what you bring in from the sale.
These costs alone can end up being thousands – even tens of thousands – of dollars.
Before listing your house, make sure that you’re prepared for the reality of what you’ll earn from the sale of your house after these expenses are factored in. This can inform all of your decisions about selling your house moving forward.
Think of it this way, if you’d earn less than what you owe on your mortgage, it may not be worth selling now if you don’t have to. But if you’ll be making a healthy profit, what could that mean for your search for your next home?
Congratulations! You’re a home selling champion now
Did all those tips help? We hope so! The bottom line is to not take anything for granted. Think of the common selling mistakes you could run into way ahead of time and ask your real estate agent (or Google) how to best avoid them.
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The Short Version
- Avoiding common selling mistakes could help you sell your house quicker and help you walk away with more money in your pocket
- Set the right expectations early for what you can get for your house and how much selling it may cost you out of pocket
- Give your house curb appeal before listing it, but don’t pay for unnecessary repairs or remodels