7 common mistakes to avoid when selling your home

By ,
Ask a Lender
September 8, 2017


Key Points

Avoid these mistakes when selling

  • Skip a home inspection or appraisal
  • Unsuitable renovations
  • Choose the wrong real estate agent
  • Overprice your home
  • Not staging or preparing your home
  • Insufficient marketing
  • Not having a post-sale plan

Home is where the heart is — but not always the head. Most of the mistakes homeowners make when selling their homes are tied to emotion. After all, you’ve spent years making your house a home, so it can be nearly impossible to look at the property objectively. Identify and avoid these seven common mistakes when selling to help make the process easier and get more money out of your home sale.

1. Skip a home inspection or appraisal

Get a home inspection as soon as you start to consider selling your home. This will give you a clear and unbiased picture of any issues you need to take care of and help you develop a timeline for the sale. Getting a home appraisal can also empower you in deciding on a listing price for your home. Remember that it can be both illegal and costly to withhold information discovered in a home inspection from a prospective buyer. Furthermore, pricing your home over the professionally appraised value rarely bodes well for the final sale price. The buyer will also have a team of professionals on their side, so transparency is the best policy.

2. Unsuitable renovations

Taking care of basic repairs and remodeling can greatly increase the selling price, as a house that requires immediate attention to plumbing or insulation upon purchase will give potential buyers pause. The return on investment for essential repairs is sure to be higher than the cost of the work. On the other hand, avoid large-scale optional or luxury renovations such as a home extension or new pool. Every homebuyer will have their own unique tastes, so always think about resale value when taking on repairs prior to selling.

5. Select the wrong real estate agent

Seasoned real estate gurus may be able to successfully sell their home by themselves, but for the average homeowner going the for-sale-by-owner route will cost significant time and money that often outweighs the standard 6 percent real estate agent commission. If you decide to work with a real estate agent, be sure to vet them thoroughly and don’t go by a friend or family referral alone. Changing real estate agents in the middle of the home selling process is a costly endeavor. Moreover, do not simply select the real estate agent quoting you the highest price.

4. Overprice your home

Deciding on the asking price for your home can feel like walking a tightrope. You want to obtain the maximum revenue for the property, but houses that remain for sale too long will gain a poor reputation in the market and typically end up selling for less. Get as much information as possible from the appraisal and your real estate agent before deciding on a price. At the same time, decide on a minimum sale price to avoid accepting a low offer during the emotional negotiation period.

5. Not preparing or staging your home

While your home may feel perfect to you as-is, prospective buyers will notice everything from paint colors to lingering scents. According to the National Association of Realtors, 32 percent of Realtors believe staging a home increases home dollar values by up 20 percent. Decluttering and a professional paint job can significantly increase the sale price of a home. Curb appeal — the external appearance of your home — should also be enhanced by mowing the lawn and taking care of basic landscaping. Check that there is available parking and accessibility to your property. Another often-overlooked factor is pets and young children; try to make sure they are not home when a prospective buyer is visiting. Present your home as a blank canvas on which the buyer can imagine their future life.

6. Insufficient marketing

Most homeowners and all real estate agents are familiar with the Multiple Listing Service website, but the marketing of homes is evolving in step with technology and buyer behaviors. As economies of scale make virtual reality a more accessible option, buyers need more than just a few photos online to catch their attention. Social media should also be a part of your real estate agent’s marketing campaign, given that millennials — 86 percent of which are active on social media — are expected to account for more than a third of home purchases in 2017.

7. Not having a post-sale plan

It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of selling your home and forget that you’ll need another place to hang your hat once the keys have been handed over. Assess your finances and get preapproved for your next mortgage prior to selling to get an idea of how much house you can afford. Decide whether you will purchase another home before your current house is sold; include a home sale contingency in the sales contract; or rent or live with a friend or relative in the interim. Having a moving plan in place — and knowing how much it will cost — can help you avoid stress and unnecessary expenses after you’ve sold your home.

Compare Mortgage Lenders