Top 10 Mistakes Home Sellers Can Avoid

Trying to sell your home?  Don’t make these top 10 mistakes home sellers can avoid.  Real estate agents know the biggest obstacles facing home sellers and I come across these often.  These mistakes can cost home owners time and money.  Understanding that eliminating as many hurdles as possible will help you sell your home faster and for more money.

Most of the top mistakes, are ultimately in the hands of the seller. Work with your real estate agent to correct or at least to minimize the impact of each of these mistakes, to sell your home.

Here are the top 10 mistakes home sellers can avoid when trying to sell their home.

1. Overpriced Home
Not a big surprise here. This was far and away the most common mistake that sellers make, preventing them from selling their home. Over price your home, and there is a pretty good chance no one is going to want to buy it. A homes value is determined by the market price buyers are willing to pay for a home. Real estate agents do not set the real estate market, buyers do. A good real estate agent will suggest a price to list your home based on comparable recently sold homes. Click here to get a home valuation based on recent market data.

Overpricing a home to ‘see if you can get someone to bite’ is not a strategy employed by someone really serious about selling. Overpricing a home will lead to missed opportunities with buyers that are serious about buying in the range at which your home should be listed.

The first week a home is listed will generally be the time that the most eyeballs are on the home. This is the largest potential pool of buyers exposed to your listing. Setting a price that reflects the market is essential to selling! This is exacerbated in a downward trending market. Many sellers have lost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars chasing a market down after setting a listing price that was outside what the market was willing to bear.

I give you several reasons why Price is King in the local Springfield, MO housing market. Check it out.

2. Showing Availability – It’s Difficult to Set a Showing
The chances your home will sell when buyers can’t get in to physically inspect the property are greatly reduced. Sellers need to understand that listing a home for sale is going to lead to some inconveniences in your normal routine. Many serious buyers may want to physically inspect a property during times which may not be convenient for the seller. Knowing this, motivated sellers understand that showing flexibility has a direct impact on the sale of your home.

It’s not uncommon for sellers to see 8, 10, even 20 homes during a showing tour with their agent. If your house isn’t on that list because you only do showings on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, you will miss out on ready, willing and able buyers.

This does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t request advanced notice. A 2 to 6 hour notice is not an uncommon request, allowing you time to get the home ready and load up kids or dogs for a great showing. As a seller, realize that the more people that can see the home in person, the better chance you have to find the buyer that wants your home.

3. Cluttered Space – Unwilling to Depersonalize or Remove Clutter
Sellers are sometimes unwilling to either make the effort, or unwilling to compromise how they live in their home during the time the home is on the market for showings. Serious sellers realize that by depersonalizing the home and removing unwarranted clutter, it allows potential buyers to more easily visualize their own things in the house.
Over time most people accumulate “stuff”. While this stuff holds meaning for you, it could be distracting to a potential buyer. By putting some of your things in storage many of your rooms and counters will appear larger. You want the potential buyer focusing on how nice and large your rooms are not the furniture or pictures in the room. We know you are proud of your kids, as the shrine in the living room displays all of their ribbons, trophies and diplomas from the last 20 years. But for a buyer, this is only a distraction.

Many agents will make recommendations about ways to remove clutter or depersonalize your home. Some will even suggest that a professional come in to stage your home. This helps maximize the space, allowing buyers the ability to visualize their own things in a room. The key thing to remember here is these suggestions are not personal. You may have to be a little uncomfortable, so that your house puts it’s best foot forward.

As an experienced realtor I can tell you it’s a great sign when I hear potential buyers trying to mentally arrange their own furniture in a house they are looking at. When a buyer is picturing their own furniture in a home, they are subconsciously also thinking about buying. Conversely it is not a good sign when I hear buyers talking about existing furniture or pictures in a home. This is usually a sign they are not thinking about buying the home. Considering this, the fewer potential distractions for buyers the better.

4. Unpleasant Odors in the House

There is an old adage in real estate, “if it smells, it won’t sell.” Bad odors distract potential buyers from the task at hand, which is looking at your home. The other bad side effect is after looking at several houses when buyers are trying to remember their favorites, your house will always be referred to as the stinky one.

“Mr and Mrs. Seller, your house stinks!” Most agents aren’t going to be this blunt. But in some cases they wish they could be. They’ll take a more tactical approach and say something like…..’during the time your house is on the market, it might be a good idea to smoke outside’.

But what they know is that nothing will stop a potential buyer in their tracks faster than a strong odor of any sort. In some cases this could just be the left over smell from last nights dinner. In more extreme cases, agents tell horror stories of entering homes that have a bad smell of pet urine or smoking.

The main concern for the buyer is, of course, “is the house going to smell like this once we move in?” Real Estate agents know that many a buyer has passed on a home after coming to their own conclusion on that answer.
Your agent isn’t suggesting a fresh coat of paint and new carpet because they don’t like how things look. They are making these suggestion because they realize that the smoke or pet odor in your home is going to be a major turn off for anyone thinking about buying your home.

5. Seller Unwilling to Make Repairs Prior to Listing
No seller wants to spend money making repairs to a house you are about to sell. As agents we understand that, but  also understand that few buyers want to move in to a house that needs a bunch of work done immediately upon moving in.

One of your objectives to selling your home is to make it as appealing as possible to as wide of an audience as possible. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs, and a buyer doesn’t want a bunch of work upon moving in, you’ve shrunk the pool of potential buyers for your property. Marketing to the largest buying pool is the best way to sell your home for top dollar and in the shortest time.

By spending some money before you sell your home, you can maximize profits when you sell. Talk to your agent, and they can help you decide which repairs will be worth the money.

6. Sellers Unwilling to Negotiate with Buyers
Setting a market price on a home is not an exact science. Successful real estate agents will give you a range in which they predict the home will sell. As a seller, you should always want the most money the market will bear. That being said, the unwillingness to negotiate with buyers can turn away even the most serious buyers.

Price is not the only condition which is open to negotiation. Buyers and sellers can negotiate on dates, fixtures that might stay with the home, repairs and a host of other sticking points. Sellers that refuse to negotiate and are set on digging in their heels are much less likely to find a willing and able buyer.

Don’t be insulted by low offers. It does not hurt a buyer to make that offer, some sellers say yes. Buyers want to get the home for the best price and on the best terms they can. Just like a sellers wants to sell for the best price on the best terms. It’s rare that either party walks away from a negotiation with everything they want. Motivated sellers understand this and are willing to negotiate.

This is where your agent can come in handy. Many sellers are understandably emotionally invested in their home, your agent is not, and can offer unbiased constructive advice. My suggestion is to counter all unacceptable initial offers no matter how low. These same buyers making a really low offer will often come up to your acceptable range, they just want to see if you will give them a deal first.

7. Bad Photos in the MLS
Studies show that more than 85% of people are going online as a part of their research for buying a home. Most buyers will probably first be introduced to your home online. Poor photos could be cause for them to disregard your home before they ever set foot in it.

The photos used to market your home are generally the first impression any buyer will have of your home. When picking an agent to list your home, ask to see examples of photos from previous listings. Do their photos make you want to take a look at the home?

Never let your home go on the market without photos! If it means waiting a day or two before listing, wait. A large number of potential buyers in your market will be exposed to your home the first day it goes on the market. Having great photos the first day the home hits the market is a must.

This one will most likely fall on your real estate agent. But knowing that bad photos in the MLS can be an impediment to the sale of your home, as a seller it’s imperative that you demand great photography from your agent.

8. The Home is Just Plain Messy
You were late for work this morning so you ran out of the house without picking up from last night’s dinner. Not a big deal…..unless you have potential buyers that will be stopping by.

Some people may be able to look past the dishes stacked up in the sink. Other buyers won’t be able to look past the mess. Remember, buyers want to envision their things in your house. The more obstacles you put in the way, the harder time they have connecting with the home emotionally.

Take the time every day to make sure everything is cleaned up and the home is in showing condition.

9. Sellers Who Like to Play Tour Guide During Showings
Almost every real estate agent will agreed that sellers should leave the house during showings. Some sellers want to stick around and make sure buyers see all the important features of a home. The problem with that………as a seller you don’t know what’s important to a buyer.

Sellers that hover around during a showing will make the buyer nervous. They won’t feel comfortable discussing things they like or dislike about the house with their agent. In addition, most buyers like to explore a little bit. Interested buyers tend to do things like open cabinets and check in closets to get a better sense for the entire home. A hovering seller can make a showing very uncomfortable for some buyers, and they will tend to cut their visit short. You want a potential buyer to spend time looking around the home envisioning their own furniture in the space.
The bottom line is, it is best to leave the house when it’s being shown. Your presence there will only make things worse.

10. Picking the Wrong Agent
You decided to list with your aunt or with your friend that just got in the business. You paid no attention to their experience or what they do to market a home. Maybe not the best idea.

Real Estate agents will often suggest interviewing more than one agent. You’ll never know if your aunt is going to do a good job of marketing your home for sale if you have nothing to which to compare her.

Also don’t hire an agent just because they throw out the highest suggested list price. Some agents will give you an inflated list price just to get the listing and then come back later to get a price reduction to where it should have been listed all along. The problem with this is you miss the initial push you should have received on a new listing that is priced correctly.

Don’t be scared to ask a real estate agent questions about why they are a better choice than anyone else you may be considering. Just like with any profession, there are good real estate agents and there are bad real estate agents.

As always, please feel free to share this information with all of your friends. If you have any questions about real estate, I can be reached at or by phone at 417-693-3254.

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