Last Updated on March 12, 2013

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make

By Alan F Macdonald

People make mistakes all the time – it’s human nature. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to avoid them. And when it comes to real estate, any mistake could be a costly one. Money isn’t everything in a house sale, but everything has an effect on how much money you can get for your home. So if you’re interested in getting the most when you sell – and doing it without too much stress – read on to discover the most common blunders sellers make, and how you can avoid them.

Not Cleaning Up

[pullquote_right]Clean, declutter, organize – do all of it, do it thoroughly and do it before you list your home for sale[/pullquote_right]
I can’t stress this enough: If you are selling your home, clean, declutter, organize – do all of it, do it thoroughly and do it before you list your home for sale. Start by packing up everything you’re not going to need for the next few months. Keeping the most basic furniture and minimal decor will make your home look roomier and make it easier for potential buyers to imagine their stuff in it. Next, fix the things you always intended to fix, and check over everything to make sure nothing blindsides you during an inspection. Then, scour every inch of your home. The cleaner it is, the better, but unless you have a reputation as a clean freak, you should probably ask a trusted friend to give your house a white-glove test. (You could ask your real estate agent, but cleanliness is a touchy subject so he or she is likely to tend toward a diplomatic answer!)


[pullquote_left]Paint is probably the only renovation you should do before you sell[/pullquote_left]
People love to spend money on renovations, and it’s common for homeowners to finally decide to do that old kitchen or bathroom when they’re looking to sell. This isn’t always the best plan. Maybe you always intended to build a new kitchen and you want that dream realized. Maybe you never liked the flooring in the bathroom and want to redo it. The problem is that there’s a good chance you won’t get much of a return on that investment – if you get one at all. And even if you do break even, what about all that inconvenience? Whoever buys your home is probably going to have their own ideas about what needs to be done. That granite that you picked out for the kitchen countertops: they hate it. That new tile you installed in the ensuite: not at all what they wanted. Paint is probably the only renovation you should do before you sell. It cleans things up and costs very little. Anything other than that and a few minor repairs is probably a waste of your time and money. If you want to renovate, go for it, but do it if you plan to stay in your home so that you can enjoy it. Now that’s an investment.

Pricing Too High

Almost all houses are priced a little high and in most markets, few things sell for the asking price or better. However, there is nothing wrong with being a little overpriced. People expect to negotiate and usually feel better knowing they get to a price with a little argument. That said, if a house is too overpriced, homebuyers won’t even look at it – in fact, it won’t even come up in a search on MLS because people usually set price as a search parameter. The average time it takes to sell a home (known as “Days On Market”) varies, but it should not take more than a few months to sell a home. If it does, the price is probably too high.One exception to this pricing policy affects homes at either end of the price spectrum. Homes that are in need of major repairs or are in undesirable locations can take longer to sell because fewer people may be interested in them. By the same token, houses that are very expensive (think homes worth $700,000 or more) will take longer to sell because fewer people can afford them.

Not Allowing Showings

[pullquote_right]If you don’t allow buyers to see your home, they aren’t going to buy it[/pullquote_right]
I was showing homes to some first-time buyers who were looking for a bungalow on Edmonton’s South Side. Like most people, my clients work until 5pm, and were only available to view homes after that. Unfortunately, one listing that interested them had restrictions on showing times: no showings in the evenings. The owners had a small child who needed to be in bed before 6pm. Big mistake. My clients ended up buying another home, and they never got to see one of the homes on their list. Who knows what could have happened had they seen it.I appreciate how hard it is to accommodate everyone when you’re selling your home, but you have to remember that if buyers can’t see it, they aren’t going to buy it. When people are looking to buy, they often make a decision within a few days. If you miss an opportunity to show your home, you could end up waiting months for someone else to come along – and that could mean taking a lower price, too. So do what you have to do to allow showings. Kids need to get to bed early? Drive them around in the car seat. Have to take the dog out with you? Looks like another walk for Scrappy. Had five showings in one night and just want to have dinner? Too bad, eat out. You might have a great house, but no one will know unless they see it. Let them.

Refusing To Negotiate

As the old saying goes, “the first offer is the best offer”. This might not always be true, but what it really means is that you don’t have to throw the first offer out. Sure, you might be insulted, but you can’t see the future and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get another or a better offer. Why not negotiate with buyers who are interested in your home right here, right now? It’s just paper. Those potential buyers might raise their offer to something you can accept, they might not. But there’s no harm in trying. If the buyer is anywhere near your asking price, it’s probably a good idea to entertain the idea of selling to them.

Pretend You Are The Buyer

As a seller, you should do your best to be flexible, reasonable and open-minded while your home’s on the market. Put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes. You would want a clean house, convenient appointment times and reasonable pricing. You wouldn’t want to pay top dollar for renovations you don’t like or have your offer rejected outright. The problem is that sellers often get so caught up in the details, they miss the point: selling your home and getting a fair price. Focus on what’s important and the rest should fall into place.
by +Alan F Macdonald REALTOR® | Copyright © –