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4 biggest home seller mistakes to avoid - keyboard and house keysThe biggest home seller mistakes tend be the most common ones. The majority of seller mistakes often boils down to not hiring a good real estate agent and simply following her or his guidance.

Biggest home seller mistakes: summary

Here are the top four “biggest home seller mistakes” in my experience.  In most cases, a good listing agent will try to avoid these, but sometimes sellers pressure their real estate agent do do it the seller’s way, cutting these essential corners or ignoring the realities of the current real estate market.

  1. Overpricing the property for sale, misunderstanding what their home is worth.
    • Not studying the market stats and believing that the data applies to their home.
  2. Going on the market unprepared:
    • Not making the home “show ready”, nicely staged, clean, bright, and professionally photographed.
    • Not making the disclosure package complete and ready with all pre-sale inspections and disclosures completed.
  3. Lack of MLS exposure and lack of listing syndication.
  4. Overly restrictive showings, sellers being present during showings, any other hurdles to buyer’s agents showing the home to their clients.

Related to #1 and #2 above, a common mistake among sellers is pressuring the listing agent to tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Hire a good real estate agent, ask for that professional’s guidance and act on it.



Errors with over pricing

What tops the list for the biggest home seller mistakes? High pricing! All the marketing in the world cannot compensate for a price that is too high. A low price may cause problems, too, but most of the time it will generate multiple offers, overbids, and a great sale price. In most markets, it’s riskier to overprice than to under price.

When homes don’t sell within 3-4 weeks in Santa Clara County, the vast majority of the time it is due to the list price being too high for what buyers are willing or able to pay for it.

Put another way, sellers sometimes have an inflated view of what their own home is worth on the market (this is true of agents selling their own homes, by the way). Sellers frequently feel as though the lower price valuation is insulting, and a response spoken or unspoken may be “I’m not going to give away my home”. Agents occasionally do underprice a home, but 98% of the time, if there’s a pricing error, it’s on the high side.

Please remember that your agent is not the buyer on your home, and you are not negotiating a sales price with your agent. You are not on opposing sides of the table.  Allow your agent to provide you with objective input so that you can make a good decision on the list price.

Not preparing properly to have the home on the market

Sometimes home owners hear that the market is hot and mistakenly assume that they don’t need to “do anything” to sell the home.

The best sales with the highest prices tend to be with homes that are vacant, cleaned, repaired as needed, bright, pleasant feeling (no bad odors), staged, fully inspected (houses need roof, pest, and home inspections, maybe others), disclosures thoroughly completed, and then professionally photographed when the place looks great! Skip any of these and you’ll chip away at your odds of success.

Home buyers are spending a fortune to purchase a house, townhouse, or condo. When there are no inspections, or limited ones, it’s a red flag. In Los Gatos and Silicon Valley generally, these are the norm for sellers to provide upfront. It’s customary and having them makes home buyers feel more sure that they know what they are buying.

If things appear broken where visible, buyers will wonder if what is not visible has been properly cared for, and that’s another red flag.

Confident buyers pay more – keep that in mind when making the home show ready and confidence boosting for them.

A lack of exposure online reduces the odds of selling well

We sometimes see properties on the MLS which are not being syndicated to the main web portals such as  Many buyers ONLY look at those sites, and if a house isn’t findable there, the traffic is likely to be far less, and lower traffic tends to reduce the number of offers and the eventual sale price. (We love to show these homes, as the odds are better for our buyer clients.)

Home buyers and home sellers both need to understand why listing syndication matters. Clair and I do also track the “members only” listings for our buyers.

Worse: selling without the MLS at all, as that results in very little exposure.

Showing appointment obstacles

One of the biggest home seller mistakes is making it difficult for their home to be shown to buyers with highly restrictive showing windows, or making the showings uncomfortable by insisting that the seller, tenant, or listing agent be present for all showings.

Think of it as a courtship between buyers and sellers. If this is difficult now, just to get in the door or to see the home in peace, what would an escrow be like?

Or on a practical level, some buyers simply cannot see the home for sale in one 3 hour opening each week.




Related Reading:

Should you move out before you sell? (on our Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)