3 Critical Mistakes Home Sellers Make; How to Avoid Them

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on April 12, 2019

Real estate isn’t a game for the faint hearted. To make sure that you walk away from the sale of your home with the maximum amount of money possible requires following a time-tested process.

Unfortunately, not all real estate agents counsel their clients on the “do’s and dont’s” of selling a home so mistakes can and will frequently happen.

Let’s take a look today at what I consider to be three of the most critical mistakes that I see home sellers making and how to avoid making them for yourself!      


A home sale today isn’t like a “garage” sale where folks haggle over prices. Yes, there will be some negotiations over price and other terms within any offer, but don’t let this be your main point of consideration when coming up with a list price for your home.

Remember that pricing your home high to give yourself some “wiggle room” to negotiate isn’t wise.

Your agent will begin the process of marketing your home by placing it on the Multiple Listing Service or MLS for short. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. This is the “source,” not Zillow, to all listing data. He or she will enter all the particulars of the home and the price.

Other agents in the area, members of that same MLS, will search the MLS for homes that their buying clients may be interested in viewing. These searches are almost always based on price.

If you overprice your home, it will show up in searches for larger, sometimes newer homes – homes that your property might not as easily compare with.

So, it will sit racking up big days on the market. Sure it will show. You’ll get buyers who want to view it in person as they will anything in their price range. Yet when a home sits for too long, buyers’ agents and their clients get the impression that you aren’t serious about selling, don’t want to negotiate, or worse, that something is “wrong” with the house.  In the end, your home may become stigmatized.

A home’s value is determined by what buyers are willing to pay for it, not what the homeowner wants to get for it.

This is a hard lesson. It’s not the listing agent nor the seller that determines the final sales price on a home, it’s buyers in a free market. To determine what buyers are willing to pay requires an analysis of homes similar to yours that have recently sold. Preferably in your own neighborhood.

The focus is on sold comparable homes. It doesn’t matter what your friend down the street is asking for her house, it only matters what she finally realizes as a final sales price when the deal closes.

The biggest mistake I see home sellers making at times is to lose that most valuable marketing period they have, which is the first few weeks after the home hits the market.

Unless the market is a red-hot sellers’ market and multiple offers are the norm in your area, work with your agent to determine the home’s value and price it right. I’ve noticed too each year that as we move from late spring to summer and more inventory continues to come on the market for a summer sale, the ability to price high and sell gets hindered too because of more competition out there with more inventory for buyers to peruse before making a decision.

Not prepared

“You only have one chance to make a good first impression,” isn’t just excellent advice for a job interview. Your home will make impressions as well, and if you don’t take the time to ensure yours stands out immediately as potential buyers walk in the door, you may end up leaving money on the table and costing yourself time as well as frustration.

Preparation starts with cleaning the home until it is immaculate. Paint any walls and trim that need a touch up. Make repairs to leaky faucets, broken window blinds to loose banisters. Have the carpet professionally cleaned. Do things that cause the home to feel move in ready as your potential buyer walks in the door for their first showing!

Staging the home – hiring a decorator to rearrange furniture and add decorative items – isn’t a must but it has proven to bring more money at the close of the sale. If money is not in the budget for a stager, declutter and remove excess personalization of the home. You want it to ‘not’ feel like your home, but your buyer needs to see themselves there in that space. Remove any large pieces of furniture that make traffic patterns constricted so they feel more open and spaces feel larger.

Finally,  please don’t forget the exterior of your home. What a buyer sees when he or she pulls up to the curb must be compelling enough to make them want to see what’s on the inside of your house.

Restrictions on showings

Being flexible for showings is a must when your home is on the market. This means of course not putting too many restrictions on requests to show your home. What I see many sellers unaware of is that when an agent is out showing houses, rarely are they just going to show “your” house that day. They may be showing three to “23” homes on that showing appointment and the time they are asking for may be because they are in your area, neighborhood, that time of day.

I’ve seen sellers, upon getting a request to show their home from 11am-Noon say, “the time isn’t good for us,” can you come at 6pm instead.” It’s like although “they’ve” bought a house before and obviously have done this before, they don’t get that I was just on their side of town that morning. My buyer and I after seeing 12-15 houses that day are not going to go have an early dinner too and come back to that side of town early evening just to see that one house!  So many times showings get missed because of inflexibility on the part of the sellers who forget on the other side what it’s like to be a buyer!

Sometimes it just happens.  You need time to prepare for showings and that is totally understandable, but if you require a 24-hour notice or will only allow the home to be shown during certain hours, you restrict the pool of buyers that may be able to see and purchase the home. I’ve seen buyers who had one of those days where they saw 8 homes, missed one that we couldn’t schedule, and never saw that particular listing because they found something else that day they liked and offered on it.

Extra Tip

One of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make is to be less-than candid about all aspects of the home.

Remember that any non-disclosure of a known material fact can land you in court. This typically means that anything that cannot be seen, anything that cannot be observed that has some fault or defect must be disclosed. This includes ages of the HVAC to mechanical, roofing, and other.  Be as specific as possible. This will earn your big points with home buyers who will look at you as someone to trust.

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