Biggest Home Seller Mistakes

ActiveRain is an online, mainly USA, real estate agent community.  They polled over 1,000 of their real estate agent members to reveal the top six ways home sellers turn potential home buyers away:

  1. Overpricing the home

  2. Making it difficult to set a showing time

  3. Being unwilling to depersonalise and/or declutter the home

  4. Not dealing with unpleasant odour

  5. Being unwilling to negotiate with buyers

  6. Refusing to make repairs

Let’s look at what real estate agents say turns buyers off in more detail:

Overpricing the Home

More than twice as popular as any other reason, there is no surprise that setting the selling price too high is the most common mistake sellers make. The reality is all you are doing is making other homes look more attractive.  This is not a strategy employed by someone serious about selling and if you’re not serious why are you wasting your time?

The first week during which a home is listed will generally be the time that the most eyeballs are on the home and the largest potential pool of buyers will be exposed to the listing. Setting a price that reflects the market is essential to selling.  Being way above means buyers will pass over your home.

Showing Availability - It's Difficult to View

We are not quite at virtual viewings (yet).  Buyers need to physically inspect the home. Motivated sellers should understand that flexibility in when you allow the home to be viewed could have a direct impact on the sale of your home.  As a seller, realise that the more people that can see the home in person, the more chance you have to find the buyer that wants your home.

This is an area we have a slight difference of opinion to traditional agents.  As traditional agents we like access on our agenda, whether it is to sell that home or use it as a comparison to help sell another.  Our (200 Square) view is simple, if a qualified buyer is interested in the home we want to get them through - but there is generally no need for that to be on an instantaneous basis. It needs to work for the buyer and the seller.

Unwilling to Depersonalise or Remove Clutter

We’ve written about this one before - the seller needs to move out so the buyer can move in. Serious sellers realize that by depersonalising the home and removing unwarranted clutter, it allows potential buyers to more easily visualize their own things in the house.  “Stuff” makes rooms seems smaller and distracts the eye from the overall feel of the room.

Unpleasant Odours in the Home

"Mr and Mrs. Seller, your house stinks!"

Most agents aren't going to be this blunt - possibly they wish they could be. Probably you'll hear 'while your house is on the market, it might be a good idea to smoke outside'.  Or maybe odours from last nights dinner, or pets or a teenagers 3 year old washing pile! The main concern for the buyer is, of course, "is the house going to smell like this once we move in?" And so they pass.

Unwilling to Make Repairs Prior to Listing

This is another one we are right on board with - and have commented on before.  No seller wants to spend a few thousand dollars making repairs to a house they are about to sell. But few buyers want to move into a house that needs a bunch of work done immediately - or if they do it will be reflected in the price (and then some).  

To make the home as appealing as possible to a wide spread of buyers get repairs and maintenance done before it goes on the market.

Unwilling to Negotiate with Buyers

As a seller, you should always want the most money the market will bear. That being said, an unwillingness to negotiate with buyers can turn away even the most serious buyers.  Price is not the only condition which is open to negotiation - dates, fixtures that might stay with the home, repairs and a host of other sticking points.

Sellers that refuse to negotiate and are set on digging in their heels are much less likely to find a willing and able buyer. Don't be insulted by low offers. It is not where you start that matters, it is where you finish.

It's rare that either party walks away from a negotiation with everything they want. Motivated sellers understand this and are willing to negotiate.

Bad Photos

Yep. Right. Bang on.  Photos are the most important marketing that can be done on your home.  Pay for professional photos before you pay for anything else.

Studies show that greater than 85% of people are going online as a part of their research for buying a home. Most buyers will be introduced to your home online. Poor photos could be cause for them to disregard your home before they ever set foot in it. Make sure your photos make a buyer want to take a look at the home?

Never let your home go on the market without photos! If it means waiting a day or two before listing, wait. A large number of potential buyers in your market will be exposed to your home the first day it goes on the market. Having great photos the first day the home hits the market is a must.

The Home is Just Plain Messy

You were late for work this morning so you ran out of the house without picking up from last night's dinner. Not a big deal.....unless you have potential buyers that will be stopping by. Some people may be able to look past the dishes stacked up in the sink, others won’t.  Buyers want to envision their things in your house. The more obstacles you put in the way, the harder time they have connecting with the home emotionally.

Sellers Who Like to Play Tour Guide During Showings

This one we think is plain wrong.  But it’s right if you have a traditional agent manning the sale process - you don’t want to be there.

So, straight from the original article - 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 you 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 house with their agent. In addition, most buyers like to explore a little bit. Interested buyers tend to do things like open cabinets and check in closets to get a better sense for the entire home. A hovering seller can make this very uncomfortable for some buyers.

Bottom line......leave the house when it's being shown. Your presence there will only make things worse.

What have we found?  When there is no agent present buyers in most cases like the owner showing them around.  No one knows the home better than the owner.  Give the buyer some space when they want it and stay away from trying to negotiate - they tend to be more relaxed without an agent tailing them around.  And after all they may be quite like you - you liked and bought the home, the new buyer may be quite similar.

Picking the Wrong Agent

Of course, just select 200 Square Real Estate and you will be fine.

You decided to list with your aunt or with your friend that just got in the business, whatever their experience or what they do to market a home. Maybe not the best idea.  Traditional agents are trained to build their personal network to gain business.  Selling your home is a business transaction.  Don't be scared to ask questions about why they are a better choice than anyone else you 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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This article has been adapted from the original ActiveRain blog here:

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