Selling your home can be the beginning of an exciting new chapter, whether you’re selling to take a job in a new city, move to a retirement community, or upgrade your space for a growing family. However, it comes with its share of challenges—and sometimes sellers create those challenges through problematic assumptions and actions.
Clear communication with your real estate professional can help you make better decisions before you list, while your home is on the market, and all the way to the closing table. If you’re looking for a more profitable and stress-free home sale process, avoid these common pitfalls.
1. For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
According to statistics gathered by the National Association of REALTORS®, 10 percent of the homes sold in 2021 were sold without the help of a real estate agent or broker. Those homes typically sold for far less than their publicly listed counterparts, and without the marketing or pricing information that would have helped them garner top dollar. In addition, because they don’t have the marketing resources of a real estate brokerage, many seller-owners struggle with capturing buyer interest and traffic.
2. Intuitive Pricing
Many sellers have “an idea” of what their home should be worth and how much it should sell for. However, frequently this type of sixth sense for home value doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of the marketplace.
Ultimately, the market will decide what your home is worth—and your agent has the comparable properties and buyer insights to help you determine the right price for your listing. Forget the speculation of the neighborhood and base your sale price on real facts and market analysis.
3. Ignoring the Listing Agent
Some sellers think of their listing agent’s professional advice as a mere suggestion. However, your agent has their finger on the pulse of the market, including repairs, updates, and upgrades, that add value and get your home sold more quickly. Ignoring their contribution could mean more days on the market and a lower price at closing.
4. Failure to Declutter
Similarly, while all agents suggest decluttering and depersonalizing the space before it goes on the market, many homeowners choose not to follow through. Indeed, some listing photos feature messy living spaces, crowded kitchen counters, and disorganized bedrooms. That’s no way to attract buyers or top-dollar offers.
Get serious about decluttering your home. Pack away personal items and photographs. Neutralize your space and appeal to as many potential buyers as possible to maximize your chances of a quick sale.
5. Staying Home for Showings
Many sellers think no one can convey the many highlights of their home like they can. Thus they linger at open houses, leave reluctantly, or return early during private showings, and chat up potential buyers. In reality, buyers rarely want to discuss the home with the current owner, preferring to keep their own counsel as to their level of interest and discussing specific questions with their own agent.
6. Leaving No Room to Negotiate
You may have a firm financial bottom line in mind, as well as a preferred closing timeline. You may be unwilling to budge on seller help at closing, on home repairs, or on conveyances. Remember that negotiation is part of the home sale process, and being unwilling to accommodate any buyer needs may mean losing a potential sale. Look for areas on which you are willing to negotiate in order to keep the deal moving forward.
7. Believing Under Contract = Sold
There’s no doubt that it’s exciting when your home goes under contract, but that’s just the beginning of the process. There will be additional things to consider and decide along the way, as well a home inspection and appraisal process to navigate. Celebrate the contract, but keep your eye on the closing and be prepared for whatever challenges may come.
8. Personalizing the Home Inspection
When you take pride in your home, it can be overwhelming to see a home inspection report that identifies problem areas and a long list of items to be repaired. You may feel that the buyers are trying to take advantage of you, or that your agent is not seeing things your way. Remember, the home inspection is not personal and it’s not meant to be an insult. The buyers are trying to protect themselves and their financial interests, just as you are.
9. Turning the Sale Into a Competition
Both buyers and sellers enter into negotiations wanting to “win” and walk away with their own preferred price and terms. However, remember that this is a negotiation, not a team sport. Patience and perspective are essential to ensuring that both parties can complete the closing process feeling good about what has happened and the steps that follow. Look out for your best interests without turning the sale into a battleground.
10. Being Careless During Move-Out
Packing up your home, especially if you have lived there for many years, is an emotional process and can present many logistical challenges. Time can get away from you and you may find yourself struggling to get everything done in time for the closing.
It’s easy to become careless, scuffing walls and doorframes while moving out furniture and boxes. You may decide to leave some things behind in closets, cabinets, and storage sheds. However, it’s important to remember that the buyers get a final walkthrough, and carelessness could result in a delayed closing or a request for monetary damages.
The bottom line is that preparation before you list, patience during the process, and the help of a qualified real estate professional can help facilitate the entire sale process. Keep both your goals and perspective at the forefront in order to navigate to a successful conclusion.