Buying & Selling Houses

The 9 Most Common Home-Selling Mistakes

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4 Articles Written
unhappy man with closed eyes touching his forehead

I have a confession to make… I used to be Realtor.

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Phew! Glad I got that off my chest. 

Now, I invest in real estate, coach new investors, have a tech company… blah, blah, blah. But I used to be a pretty good listing agent.

You’re here to learn about home selling mistakes though. Man, do people make a lot of them! Let’s dive in.

Don’t Make These Home-Selling Mistakes

Mistake #1: Pricing too high

Some of the sweetest people on earth, who would give their last dollar to help a homeless person, have a huge ego problem when it comes to their house’s value. It’s always the same, old story: “But my house is SPECIAL!”

Give me a break.

While there is nuance to every house’s value, homeowners typically have a tough time remaining emotionally neutral on the issue. In fact, I’ve seen houses sit on the market for years (in hot markets no less!) just because the sellers had an over-inflated opinion of the value of their property.

Buyers are only willing to pay what they think a house is worth. End of story. If you want to save yourself the headache and hassle of being listed for months on end with no offers, please listen to your agent. They are usually your best friend in this situation.

Your Realtor is not the bad guy (or girl). If they say your house is worth X, then it is worth very close to X. The market is the market. If you want to blame anyone, please don’t blame your Realtor. Blame the market. It doesn’t lie.

There are a myriad of pricing strategies. The right fit depends on the type of market you’re in, price point, etc. Here are some considerations.

Needle in the haystack

If you price your home at the tippy top, you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. There might be one buyer out there. And you better hope they’re cash, because when your lender wants to appraise the property, there could be some tears or a cancelled transaction when everyone finds out it’s not worth what you thought.

Market price

This is a fair price, that which the appraiser would probably vouch for. This is fine, but in a seller’s market, there is a better strategy.

Under market

If you price just under market value, buyers feel like you’re giving them a deal. If that’s true for one buyer, isn’t it true for many? It’s possible in this scenario to get multiple offers, pushing the price above market value. Make “cents”?

young man placing sale sign in front of his house

Mistake #2: Hiring the wrong agent

Not all agents are created equal. Some are fantastic buyer’s agents but lousy listing agents. Some could be great listing agents but are stingy and won’t spend the marketing dollars (or the time) to position your house correctly. Make sure you get a Realtor with the combination of a good track record and marketing chops to match.

Related: How to Sell an ‘Unsellable’ Home

Mistake #3: FSBO (pronounced FIZBO) or For Sale By Owner

When selling their property on their own, I see people make tons of mistakes. Typically, they’re overpriced. And they are clearly under-marketed. There might be a picture or two (poor ones at that) and a phone number. Buyers want more than that people!

Sellers who try to sell this way put themselves at risk in other ways, too. Not knowing what disclosures are needed or how the process works puts the transaction at risk.

Mistake #4: Not giving access

This is especially true of investment property with tenants. If a buyer wants to see a property, he or she needs to gain access in a reasonable amount of time (usually 24 to 48 hours). Tenants can be problematic in this regard. 

Tenants have no say in the sales process, nor do they have much of a stake. So, why would they want to cooperate with showings? Make sure, if you’re the landlord, that your lease spells out the tenants’ responsibility when it comes to the sale of a property and showings.

Access can be an issue in traditional resale situations, as well. I’ve encountered sellers who only want to allow showings between 10 and 2 on Saturdays. How is that supposed to help anyone? Buyers typically get frustrated and move on to houses they can see in reasonable timeframes.

stay_in_real_estate_no_time

Mistake #5: Foul smells

I am not a scientist. But did you know that memory is most closely associated with smell? The first thing people unconsciously (or consciously, if it’s bad enough) pick up on is smell. Sometimes it’s more obvious. 

Make sure, if you’re listing your property, that you’ve cleaned the place thoroughly and that there are pleasant aromas emanating—not unpleasant ones.

Related: Want to Sell Your Home Fast—for the Most Money? Do This

Mistake #6: Offering low commissions

If listing your home in the MLS, make sure you ask your agent what a typical buyer’s agent commission is. Agents can see in the MLS what commission is being offered to them. How eager are they to show your home if you’re below average? And on the flip side, how eager will they be to sell your house if you’re offering a higher commission (or bonus)?

Mistake #7: Not making concessions

Most buyers are going to do a home inspection (which they should). And unless your property is perfect (no one’s is), you’ll need to concede to some items, whether offering a credit or fixing some issues.

Some sellers take it personally when buyers ask for things to be fixed. It’s an insult that they’d even ask! Instead, realize that no home is perfect and that you’ll need to take care of a few things. It’s not worth risking the deal!

hoarder-house

Mistake #8: Staging disaster

Some homes are ummmmm… challenging to sell. Hoarder houses, messy tenants, nine kids in three bedrooms. It’s important to stage your house to put it in the best light possible. Pack up everything that’s a distraction. It’s moving anyway, right? People would rather look at a stack of boxes than your stuffed animal collection.

Mistake #9: Pro pics

And last but not least, make sure that professional photos are being taken of your property. Most consumers’ first glance at your property will be online, so make sure it’s a good first impression. Staging, lighting, professional equipment, and editing go a long way to making sure your property is shown in the best light.

Can you think of anything to add that can help a home sell?

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!

Nate Shields is a real estate investor and real estate investing coach. He started in real estate in 2013 part-time as an agent and quickly went full-time, enabling him to quit his 9-5. In just two...
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    Robert Biggerstaff Contractor from Pensacola, FL
    Replied 15 days ago
    Everything is totally spot on !!!
    Nate Shields
    Replied 13 days ago
    Thanks Robert!