Home Selling Made Simple

10 Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid

Home selling mistakes keep your home on the market longer than it should be. When that happens, buyers assume something is wrong with it. They begin to scroll past it like yesterday’s news. And it happens sooner than you might think.

Written by: Kristin Lesko
Posted: 01/10/2023

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Home selling mistakes keep your home on the market longer than it should be. When that happens, buyers assume something is wrong with it. They begin to scroll past it like yesterday’s news. And it happens sooner than you might think.

Read more: 10 Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid

In fact, one agent told Realtor.com that after five weeks or more, you begin chasing the market versus having buyers chase you.

Read on for 10 common home selling mistakes — and how to prevent them.

Forgoing a pre-listing home inspection

Smart buyers want to know what they’re getting into before they close on a house. As a result, they’ll often request a home inspection, which is a thorough assessment of a property’s condition. This inspection helps buyers avoid unwanted surprises. It can also be used as a negotiating tactic. Depending on the outcome of the inspection, a buyer might make the sale contingent on you completing certain repairs. Alternatively, they may use the issues highlighted in the inspection to negotiate a lower sale price. As a seller, you can get ahead of this by knowing what the flaws are in advance. Consider setting up a pre-listing home inspection and taking care of any crucial repairs before listing your property on the market.

Pricing too high

For most sellers, the end game is to sell your house for the most amount of money possible. However, the soundest strategy to get there isn’t necessarily listing it at that high price. In fact, if you overprice your house, your target audience may not even see it. Oftentimes, listing sites (including the Multiple Listing Service or MLS) use round numbers for their pricing filters. If you list your property for $500,001 for instance and someone searches for houses at a max of $500,000, your listing may not show up. Increase visibility and interest by coming just under the next round number — like $499,999. Does the $1 really make a difference? According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, it does. In their analysis of millions of online buying interactions, items priced using even numbers (multiples of $100) received offers that were up to 12% lower — and had more back and forth negotiations. However, they were up to 25% more likely to sell so there’s a trade-off. In real estate, it’s generally best to price just under the round number — and let the market do its thing. If it’s a seller’s market, the price will be driven higher by multiple offers and people coming in at over-asking to win the bid war.

snowed in house

Selling your house at the wrong time

It’s an age-old adage for a reason — timing really is everything. And based on an analysis by ATTOM, the best time of year to sell your property is during the summer. During summer months (June, July and August), sellers seemed to make the most money and sell their houses faster. Why? The weather is typically better than in the winter months, kids are out of school (allowing greater flexibility for the parents to attend showings) and some families are also on a timeline to complete the closing before the next school year starts. That’s good news for sellers who don’t want the home selling process to drag out.

Not hosting open houses, showings, or virtual tours

Almost half of homebuyers made an offer in the past two years without seeing the property in-person, reported CNBC based on insights from LendingTree. That’s great news for sellers, as it means their houses are generating real interest from the listing alone. However, it doesn’t always mean that the first deal is the best one. First, another buyer may come in higher. Second, the first deal may fall through. Don’t assume that the first deal is going to be the only one and jump on it. Instead, weigh your options by going through with an initial open house. You also might attract more out-of-state buyers if you’re willing to do virtual tours.

Skipping the staging

Aesthetically-pleasing homes move off the market faster. Interestingly, 31% of agents said staging a home greatly reduced the time it spent on the market, according to a survey from the National Association of Realtors. Agents in the same study also largely agreed that staging a home helps future owners visualize themselves in it. Small improvements can help to increase a home’s perceived value. This might include de-cluttering and de-personalizing your property, neutralizing the paint colors to brighten the space, rearranging furniture, and adding on-trend furnishings and accessories.

Not cleaning or de-cluttering

You want prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in the house. That’s hard to do when the home is dirty or unkept. Hiring a cleaning company and professional organizer can make a big difference. It may be a job that needs to be done on a recurring basis. You’ll want to ensure that the home is in tip-top shape before you take professional photos for the property listing, host open houses, or facilitate online tours. Ideally, a once-a-week or bi-weekly cleaning will do the trick, just make sure to keep everything orderly in between.

Taking real estate photos yourself

Cell phone cameras have come a long way. However, they still can’t compete with the image quality of a professional camera — at least not yet. Why does that matter? Properties photographed with high-performance Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DLSR) sold quicker and for thousands more than properties with amateur photos, according to Redfin. The importance of photos continues to increase when you consider the trend of buying homes sight unseen. A professional photographer can also tell a story that helps people buy into the lifestyle of the home. Additionally, they can take photos at impressive vantage points using drones — like aerial shots of a sprawling property or large plot of land.

Forgoing a real estate agent

Agents earn a commission for selling your home (typically 5 to 6 percent of your home’s sale price). Some home sellers choose not to hire a real estate agent to avoid commission. It’s understandable, considering that 6 percent really adds up. Let’s say your home sells for $330,000. The commission would be somewhere around $19,800. On the other hand, it can be a costly mistake to go without one. Why? On average, FSBO homes sold for $225,000 compared to $330,000 for agent-sold homes — a $105,000 difference. In the end, the commission seems like a small price to pay for the expertise and the network you get from working with an agent.

Taking things personally

In many ways, our houses are an extension of us. After all, we hand-selected them. We also picked out the paint colors, the furnishings, and the décor. When someone else comes in and expresses a distaste toward any of these things, it’s hard not to take it personally. However, it’s ultimately a business transaction and a conflict over taste preferences shouldn’t get in the way of that. A real estate agent can field questions and negative comments in a professional way that moves the deal forward (e.g. “Paint colors are easy to change out so you can make it your own when you move in”). At the same time, if you keep getting the same complaints (e.g. “this bright red living room is off-putting”), it might be worth spending a couple hundred dollars to repaint the room and remove the barrier. Price can be another touchy subject for owners dealing with buyers directly — especially if the price is too low. Real estate agents make a great buffer in this case, too, because they won’t get offended and can handle the negotiation process objectively.

Not lining up your next place

Another common home selling mistake is focusing solely on the home sale and not on securing the next place. In a seller’s market, sellers of a home typically benefit from buying first, according to Zillow. The opposite is true in a buyer’s market, the site adds. It’s rare that the stars will align to sell a home and buy one simultaneously, without any overlap or issues. If you’re considering buying before you sell, just make sure to run the numbers. Find out how long you could afford to pay two mortgages and then decide if you feel comfortable taking both on. Depending on your buyers’ timeline, they may also be willing to work with you so that you can live in the current home for a specified period of time while you look for a new one. You may find greater flexibility from people buying a second home or investment property versus those needing a place to stay themselves.

By avoiding these common home selling mistakes, you can help ensure your property moves off the market in a reasonable timeframe — and that you get a great price for it.

Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not make any guarantees about the sufficiency of the content in or linked to from this blog post or that it is compliant with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.

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