7 Home Seller Mistakes That Cost Them Thousands

Trying To Time The Sell

One of the most popular questions for home sellers is, “when is the best time to sell.”  Unfortunately, you’re going to get the “it depends” answer from everyone except hungry real estate agents. Their response would be, “now.” Surprisingly, these self-serving agents are correct.  

The best time to sell is when you need to, not when the market dictates it. The reason there’s no way to truly time your sell is that the data you are working from is often 6 months behind. So you really have no idea what the market is doing until after it’s already done it.

Not Interviewing The Agent

It’s a shame, but most home sellers spend far more time worrying about the first mistake on this list (trying to time the sell) and fail to do the one thing that really could net them more money.  That’s interviewing agents.

A good real estate agent can make a big difference in profit for the home seller as well as convenience. It’s been said that a good agent can actually bring you 3 to 6 percent more. The reason is that they often understand what’s happening in the market and can price your home correctly as well as defend you while negotiating. You might be skeptical of this (and for good reason since there’s a ton of bad agents out there)  but it’s likely because you’ve never interviewed a good agent.

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Not Doing The “Little” Things Around The Home

We totally get it, when you want to sell you might not want to touch up the paint, clean the carpet and fix the dry rot around the outside. Those naggy repairs aren’t too costly to you to fix but they are a big nuisance! The problem is that your potential buyer will likely see each of these and add a $ sign to each of them. Home buying is extremely emotional, so those figures in their mind are often much, much more expensive than the reality of the cost of those repairs.

While fixing these items might not add value to your home, they will prevent the buyer from deducting value when they see it.

Being Present During The Showings

Who can show your home better than you? The answer to this argument is pretty much anyone. When a buyer comes into your home they need to be free from distraction. We already mentioned how emotional the buying process can be and if you’re there, they are going to be thinking about you and your life, and not picturing their life there.  

While this might not cost you thousands in some quantifiable way, you’re likely missing out on those buyers that saw it while you were there and thus reducing your options.  

Not Preparing To Move

This is a huge mistake that many home sellers unintentionally make. They get their home ready to sell and put it on the market and accept an offer. All is good until they realize they only have 45 days to find their own home and move out. Any good real estate agent or advisor will recommend that you get pre-qualified for a mortgage when putting your home on the market.

When you do this, you’re at least a week or two ahead of the game when you accept an offer. Not doing this can cost you thousands, as you look for living options such as costly temporary housing.

Not Insisting On Professional Photography

If you’ve ever browsed a real estate website then you’ve likely noticed how bad some of the photos are. There are even websites dedicated to how poor real estate photos are. Who’s to blame here, the agent who took the photo with their cell phone or the home seller who allowed it?  

They say that the number one thing a homebuyer wants while shopping on the internet is photos. So give them what they want with clear, crisp, professional photos. Failing to do this will likely result in either fewer showings or a buyer having a poor first impression of your home, you and/or your agent.

Overpricing The Home

The age-old adage in real estate is there is only one reason a home doesn’t sell.  It’s overpriced. Too often a home seller says, “my home is different.” Mind you this is often coming from someone in a neighborhood of 400 homes where there were only eight floor plans to choose from.  Most home buyers aren’t searching for upgraded doors, trim and paint. If your home was different enough to escaped neighborhood norms then you’re likely going to have appraisal issues even if you do manage to find a buyer.

The research is clear here, if you price it right, you get more buyers and often more offers thus driving the price up, vs pricing it at the top of the market and only attracting a few. This is why trusting an expert real estate agent is key.

This is just 7, there’s a ton of mistakes that home sellers make.  None of them are going to cause a home seller to lose their home or “nest egg,” however, each one can cost a few thousand dollars. When you add it up it could easily be enough to afford moving expenses, closing costs on the next home, etc.  


Joshua Jarvis is a 15 year veteran of real estate and technology. When he’s not writing he likes to visit Davenport Real Estate.