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Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make When Preparing for a Quick Sale

By Thomas O'Shaughnessy | December 11, 2023

Anyone looking to sell their home would agree that a quick and profitable sale is the ideal scenario. But selling an investment property or your primary home, even in a seller’s market, can quickly become overwhelming and frustrating if you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of real estate.  

Unrealistic pricing, inadequate marketing, and mistiming the market are common mistakes that can make the process more stressful than it needs to be, or worse, cause you to lose money by selling your home for less than it’s worth.

Here are eight pitfalls to avoid when listing your home for sale. 

1. Going it Alone

Selling your home on your own, otherwise known as for sale by owner, might sound like a good way to save money on the final sale. But unless you have a working background in real estate, you’ll miss out on the valuable knowledge and expertise of an experienced real estate agent. 

Agents understand the latest regulations specific to your market and can help price, market, and show your home.

FSBO sellers often discover that selling a home is incredibly time consuming and far more complicated than taking pictures and booking showings. Additionally, FSBO properties tend to sell several thousand dollars below market value, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors. 

Having a real estate professional on your side to advocate and negotiate on your behalf is well worth the cost of an agent’s commission in the long run. 

2. Pricing Your Home Incorrectly

One of the most fundamental mistakes home sellers make is having unrealistic expectations when it comes to pricing their home. Overpricing a home can deter potential buyers and prolong the time the property remains on the market. Underpricing can result in a significant loss of profit. 

A real estate professional will provide a thorough comparative market analysis, which evaluates recently sold comparable properties in your area to determine a fair and competitive asking price.

3. Making a Bad First Impression

First impressions are crucial in real estate, and sellers often underestimate the impact aesthetics have on a buyer’s decision-making process. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home, but an unkempt or cluttered property can be distracting enough to drive them away.

Simple improvements, such as a fresh coat of paint and proper staging, can significantly enhance a property's appeal. Investing the time and resources into optimizing your property’s presentation can make a substantial difference in attracting serious buyers.

4. Overlooking Repairs

Take care of small problems, such as wall dings, loose doorknobs, and sticking windows, before you list your home. If it’s in your budget, also address larger problems, such as a leaky roof, poor plumbing, and electrical issues, and you’ll likely increase your property’s value and signal to buyers that your home has been well maintained.

Ignoring necessary repairs or maintenance can lead to lower offers or deter potential buyers who are looking for a move-in ready property, rather than one that needs fixing. 

Your real estate agent can advise you on what, if any, problems you're obligated to disclose according to your state’s laws. If there are problems with your home that you’re not able to fix prior to listing, you should be upfront about anything that may be revealed in an inspection. 

5. Skimping on Professional Photos

Most home buyers begin their search online, so great-looking photos are your first opportunity to catch a buyer’s attention. Don’t give them a reason to cross your home off their list by using images taken from your phone. 

It’s worth the small investment to hire a professional photographer who will showcase your home’s best qualities with well-lit shots of every room from the best angles.  

6. Unrealistic timelines

Sellers often underestimate the time it takes to sell a property, and unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and poor decision making — particularly if there’s an urgent need to sell. 

Why some homes sell quickly while others linger on the market depends on a variety of factors, such as market conditions, location, property features, the time of year you’re listing, and other nuances that are unique to your market. 

Setting realistic timelines and being patient can help you navigate the selling process with a clear mindset.

7. Underestimating the Cost of Selling a Home 

What it costs to sell your home and move to a new one is something sellers often underestimate. You'll likely spend money on repairs, fresh paint, landscaping, staging, and other services while preparing your home to sell.

Closing costs, however, are typically the most significant expense and can include title fees, title insurance, escrow fees, prorated property taxes, attorney fees, and agent commission. These expenses can add up, but buyers can save a little bit of money on commission fees by working with a discount agent-matching service.

8. Not Negotiating

Not every offer will be exactly what you hoped, but be open to reasonable offers and be willing to negotiate terms. Rigidity can derail a sale and turn away serious buyers if they think a seller isn’t willing to work with them toward a fair deal.

Working with a skilled real estate agent can help you detach your emotions from the negotiating process and provide valuable assistance in reaching a deal that satisfies both parties.Selling a home can be overwhelming, and it's rarely accomplished without a bump or two in the process. Set yourself up for success by working with a real estate agent who can help you avoid the mistakes that prolong the process and increase your chances of finding the right buyer for a quick sale.

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