Top home seller mistakes


For sellers, eliminating as many hurdles as possible can make a big difference not only in time on market, but can make an extreme difference in the amount the property sells for.  Of the top mistakes, most are ultimately in the hands of the seller. A seller who works closely with their real estate agent to minimize the impact of each of these mistakes will make the sale of their property a reality.

Here are the top mistakes real estate agents commonly see made by owners looking to sell their Pad.

Overpriced Home

Of course there is nothing shocking here. This was far and away the most common mistake sellers make that prevent them from selling their home.
If a property is overpriced there is a pretty good chance no one is going to want to buy it. Real estate agents do not set the real estate market. A great real estate agent will suggest a price at which to list your home based on comparable homes that have already sold in the market. Overpricing a home to 'see if an owner can get someone to bite' is not a strategy employed by someone really serious about selling. Overpricing a home will lead to missed opportunities with buyers that are serious about buying in the range at which a property should be listed.
The first week during which a property is listed will generally be the time with the most interest from buyers, primarily because this is the time which draws the largest potential pool of buyers. A new listing that is properly priced will draw a lot of interest in a healthy market. Setting a price that reflects the market is essential to selling! This is exacerbated in a downward trending market. Many a seller has lost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars chasing a market down after setting a listing price that was outside what the market was willing to bear. Read more about how to set an asking price here.

Showing Availability - If It's Difficult to Set a Showing, Most Buyers Will Go on to the Next

The chances of a property selling when buyers can't get in to physically inspect the property are minuscule. Sellers need to understand that listing a home for sale is going to lead to some inconveniences in their normal routine. I always tell buyers, "Once you list your property, it is no longer your 'home.' It is a product on the market among many other competing products. The easier it is to view a product, the better chances it will sell before others." Many serious buyers may want to physically inspect a property during times which may not be convenient for the seller. Knowing this, motivated sellers understand flexibility of their schedule and routine is required to obtain the quickest sale at top price. Simply put, no show equals no sale.

It's important for a seller to know it is not uncommon for buyers to see 8, 10, even 12 homes during a showing tour with their agent. If their house isn't on that list because the owner requests showings only on weekends from 10am to 4pm, they will miss out on ready, willing and able buyers.

In Florida, with buyers having flexible schedules, many showings happen during the day, between 9 am and 5 pm. Seller who requires they be home during all showings, yet work a typical Monday thru Friday schedule,  will miss out on a large number of buyers.

Cluttered Space - Owners Unwilling to Depersonalize or Remove Clutter

Sellers are sometimes unwilling to either make the effort, or unwilling to compromise how they live in their home during the time the home is on the market for showings. Serious sellers realize that by depersonalizing the home and removing unwarranted clutter, it allows potential buyers to more easily visualize their own things in the house.

It's natural for someone to be very set and comfortable with where things are and how they appear. They may have spent years in their residence and feel they do not need to change things until they move.  However, 'stuff' and "things" can make a room feel smaller than it actually is and in some more extreme cases, 'stuff' can completely distract someone from visualizing the potential of a room. REALTORSĀ® understand, for sellers who have children, they are proud of their kids. Normally somewhere in the home,  a "shrine" displays their ribbons, trophies and diplomas from the last 20 years. But for a buyer, this is only a distraction. Even worse, a buyer can learn a lot from personal effects such as pictures and memorabilia around the residence. This can give the buyer an upper edge when negotiating a contract.

Most real estate agents will make recommendations ways to remove clutter or depersonalize. Furniture may need to be rearranged, or even removed, to create the strongest appeal for the home. Depending on the residence, an agent may even suggest that a professional home stager be brought it to completely maximize the space and create a setting maximizes the buyers ability to visualize its potential. The key thing to remember here is these suggestions are not personal and while they may be a little uncomfortable, its only temporary and it will ensure that the property is presented in its best light. Again this is where I repeat to home owners, "Once you list your property, it is no longer your 'home.' It is a product on the market among many other competing products. The easier it is to view a product, the better chances it will sell before others."

Unpleasant Odors in the House

"Your house stinks!" Most agents aren't going to be this blunt. But in some cases they wish they could be. They'll take a more tactical approach and say something like.....'during the time your house is on the market, it might be a good idea to smoke outside'.

But what they know is that nothing will stop a potential buyer in their tracks faster than a strong odor of any sort. In some cases this could just be the left over smell from last nights dinner. In more extreme cases, agents tell horror stories of entering homes that have a bad smell of pet urine or smoking.

First, the buyer may scurry quickly through the property with one intent, to get out. Should the buyer suffer through, then the main concern for the buyer is, of course, "is the house going to smell like this once we move in?" Real Estate agents confirm that many a buyer has passed on a home after coming to their own conclusion on that answer.

Seller Unwilling to Make Repairs Prior to Listing

No seller wants to spend a few thousand dollars making repairs to a house they are about to sell. Agents understand that. But agents also understand few buyers want to move in to a house that needs a bunch of work done immediately before, or upon moving in.

One of the agents and sellers strongest objectives is to make a property as appealing as possible to as wide of an audience as possible. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs, and a buyer doesn't want a bunch of work upon moving in, the pool of buyers quickly shrinks.

 Buyers also believe a property which has several visual items in need of repair, will most likely also have numerous hidden problems, and may assume the property has been subject to poor maintenance and in disrepair for years - and this is why the seller is dumping it. Rather than make an offer and pay for an inspection to find out, they move on.

Sellers Unwilling to Negotiate with Buyers

Setting a market price on a home is not an exact science. Only a licensed appraiser can assign a true value to a home.  Many real estate agents will give the seller a range in which they predict the home will sell based on comparables and market knowledge. A seller always wants the most money the market will bear. It's natural.  That being said, the unwillingness of a seller to negotiate with buyers can turn away even the most serious of buyers.

Price is not the only condition which is open to negotiation. Buyers and sellers can negotiate on dates, fixtures that might stay with the home, repairs and a host of other items and points. Sellers that refuse to negotiate are much less likely to find a willing and able buyer.

A seller should never be insulted by low first offers. Any buyer wants to pay the least amount they can for a property.  Buyers want to get the home for the best price and on the best terms they can. Just like a sellers wants to sell for the best price on the best terms. It's rare that either party walks away from a negotiation with everything they want. Motivated sellers understand this and are willing to negotiate. A seller must, again must, take emotions out of the equation. Normally an initial first offer indicates the buyer is testing the water. A seller shouldn't get upset. Rather, a seller should counter with a fair offering. Agents and buyers alike expect most first offers to be countered. 

Bad Photos in the MLS

This one will most likely fall on the real estate agent. But knowing that bad photos in the MLS can be an impediment to the sale of a property, as a seller it's imperative that they demand great photography from their agent.
Studies show that greater than 85% of people are going online as a part of their research for buying a home. Most buyers will probably first be introduced a property online. Poor photos could be cause for them to disregard the property before ever setting foot in it.

The photos used to market a property are generally the first impression any buyer will have of your home. When a seller is interviewing agents, they need to request examples of photos from previous listings, as well as the full listing. There are agents who use very few photos, with poor quality, and include very little information about the property. Will it's important to create interest and curiosity, it is equally important to offer enough information to create further interest.

A seller should never let their property go on the market without or before the photos are taken! If it means waiting a day or two before they list, they need to wait. A large number of potential buyers will be exposed to the listing via automated searches the first day it goes on the market. Having great photos the first day the home hits the market is a must. for serious buyers who have engaged with a REALTORĀ® and are receiving daily updates of new listings, it is often the first, and only time a buyer will see the listing. 

The Home is Just Plain Messy

Maybe a seller was late for work in the morning so they ran out of the house without picking up from last night's dinner. Not a big deal.....unless there are potential buyers that will be stopping by.

Some people may be able to look past the dishes stacked up in the sink, but enough buyers won't be able to look past the mess. Buyers want to envision how a residence fits their lifestyle and their belongings. The more obstacles in the way, the harder time they have connecting with a residence emotionally. It's important for sellers to keep in mind the home which is presented like a model will most likely bring more offers, and a higher sales price.

Sellers Who Like to Play Tour Guide During Showings

Almost every real estate agent who participated agreed that sellers should leave the house during showings. Some sellers want to stick around and make sure buyers see all the important features of a home. The problem with a seller they don't know what's important to a buyer.

Sellers that hover around during a showing will make the buyer nervous. They won't feel comfortable discussing things they like or dislike about the property with their agent. In addition, most buyers who are uncomfortable with the seller being home will spend less time viewing the property and its amenities. They will rush through, and then rush out to comfort themselves or the seller.

Recently I was showing a townhome to a buyer where the seller was home. The seller led the tour. Unfortunately for the seller, during this time they misrepresented some details about the home and created a liability for themselves.

Bottom line...... a seller needs to leave the house when it's being shown.

Picking the Wrong Agent

A seller may decide to list with their aunt or  friend who is an agent. Maybe be new in the business and the seller wants to help them out. Maybe they've had a rough time lately, and the seller feels this could be the sale to help them out. Or, worse yet, the seller feels obligated to a neighbor, friend or friend-of-a-friend. 

Real Estate agents will often suggest interviewing more than one agent. This can include relatives, friends and other acquaintances. After interviewing several, the seller should choose the REALTORĀ® they feel is the most qualified in their marketing plan, sales presentation, sales ability, and negotiation skills. Missing any of these qualifications can be the death of a sale. A seller should never be scared to ask a real estate agent questions about why they are a better choice than anyone else they may be considering. Just like with any profession, there are good real estate agents and there are bad real estate agents.

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