15 Mistakes to Avoid when Selling Your Home

by Shaunna Privratsky
Mistakes to Avoid when Selling Your Home photo

Of course you want to get top dollar when selling your home. Here are 15 mistakes to avoid that can help you do just that.

If you are looking to sell your home, you may have some stiff competition. So how can you sell your home without selling your soul?

First, you have to know the top fifteen mistakes to avoid in order to get top dollar for your house.

1. Don’t decorate in a specific style, if possible.

Decorating in a very specific style is a mistake. Victorian gothic might be your cup of tea, but your potential buyers could be turned off by the yards of black netting and creepy statues with blank eyes peering from every corner.

Instead, aim for an eclectic, neutral décor that makes most people comfortable. You want your home to be beautiful and buyable.

2. Don’t leave out a lot of personal items.

Likewise, if your décor and furnishings are too personal, it is difficult for the buyers to imagine themselves living in your home.

Remove family portraits, heirlooms, excessive collections, pets and their paraphernalia to let the architectural features of your home shine.

Expert Interview: Staging Your Home for Sale

3. Don’t upgrade your home right out of the neighborhood.

You might think installing a custom, gourmet kitchen will be a top selling point, but if your house is the nicest on the block by a hundred thousand dollars, you will not see a return on your investment.

Keep your upgrades within the norm for the neighborhood. Working with an agent and checking past sales will keep you on track.

4. Don’t neglect the outside of your home.

Another mistake is only addressing the inside of your home. The outside landscaping is just as important. Many buyers might just turn away from your uninviting front door if your curb appeal is lacking.

Get ideas by checking out well-manicured lawns and homes in your area. Some simple sprucing up and adding some bright flowers might be the extra sparkle that will land a sale.

5. Don’t neglect your home repair to do list.

You can no longer ignore your “to do” list. All those minor little repairs can throw a wrench in your selling contract.

With all the homes available, buyers could turn away from a home that needs a lot of work right away. Spending a little money now can lead to big profits on closing day.

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6. Don’t neglect to do your homework before hiring a broker.

Hiring an inexperienced broker is a mistake. You want the savviest salesperson on your team, so don’t be afraid to ask about the person’s track record.

7. Don’t wait for the perfect market.

Although you might be able to ask a bit more if the market picks up, you will most likely have twice as much competition.

8. Don’t neglect to keep your home clean.

Cleanliness can cover a lot of flaws.

You are stuck with a refrigerator from 2005? Buyers tend to overlook some things as long as everything is sparkling. No one wants to think about scrubbing someone else’s grime off the bathtub.

Thoroughly clean every crack and cranny and your home will seem more inviting.

9. Don’t forget to declutter.

Another way to play up the features of your home is to declutter.

Most of us have way too much stuff. A good rule of thumb is to take out half of your existing furniture and accessories.

10. Don’t declutter too much.

You can go too far with decluttering, however. Leaving only the bare walls gives guests that empty feeling.

The opposite of inviting is taking everything out of your home. Leaving just a few key pieces of furniture will help buyers visualize how they can use the spaces. It also defines rooms and brings a more finished look to the home.

11. Refrain from lots of small price adjustments.

You might panic if your house doesn’t sell right away, and lower your price by $1,000. Then you do it again the following week. This sends the wrong signal to buyers.

Setting the price is crucial and can best be tackled by studying the most recent sales in your neighborhood. If you must lower your price, one big adjustment is better than many insignificant ones.

12. Don’t give personal tours.

You might be selling your home yourself, but you could be accidentally nixing a sale.

For example, you enthusiastically point out the stove that was original to the 1981 building and mention that only one burner really works. “If you jiggle the handle and stand over here, you can get the oven to turn on” is not a good impression for your potential purchasers.

13. Don’t turn down your first offer.

Holding out for more money is not a good strategy. If you have a qualified buyer with a reasonable offer, take it. You usually won’t get a better offer if your house sits on the market too long.

14. Don’t post less-than-professional photos of your home.

Posting second-rate pictures online is a mistake. Good pictures are a must, since most people will take a “virtual tour” before committing to an in-person open house.

Your agent should use a wide-angle lens camera for stunning pictures that will whet the buyer’s appetite.

15. Don’t put all your marketing into one venue.

Today’s savvy consumers will check many places for homes before they buy. The Internet is an excellent place to start. Try to list your home in as many spots as possible, to increase the number of buyers coming to see your home. Get more exposure by adding a video tour to You Tube, eBay, Yahoo and Craigslist.

By avoiding these top fifteen mistakes, you will be well on your way to selling your home. Even in a tougher market, savvy sellers will always come out on top.

Reviewed January 2021

About the Author

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for her free newsletters at The Discount Diva.

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Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher, our free twice-weekly newsletter aimed at helping you live better for less on the money you already have!

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