Originally published by Ryan Smith on Redfin
Selling your house can be both exciting and stressful, especially if it’s your first time. Regardless
of why you decided to sell your home, there are a number of pitfalls you can easily fall into,
making your home selling experience less than ideal. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the
most common home selling mistakes people make so you can sell your home knowing you
have your bases covered.
1. Underestimating the cost of selling your house
While you should ultimately profit from the sale of your home, many home sellers forget about
the costs associated with selling a house. For starters, you should expect to use five to six
percent of the total sale price of your home to cover the commissions of both the seller and
buyer agents. For example, if you sell your home for $300,000 you could wind up paying
upwards of $18,000 in commission.
Furthermore, this hefty cost doesn’t include possible concessions homebuyers might want you
to make during the negotiation phase, such as making repairs suggested by a home inspector.
2. Not budgeting for your move
When you consider the moving process, you have two options: hiring a moving company or
borrow your buddy’s truck and doing it yourself.
By hiring a moving company, rather than doing it yourself, you’re getting someone who will
pack, move, and then unpack your belongings. This means that a full-service mover can be well
worth the investment when you’re preoccupied with all of the other tasks associated with selling
your home. Not to mention, when you hire movers your belongings are insured so you’re
covered if anything breaks.
3. Selling a house you owe more on than what it’s worth
If you still have a remaining balance on your mortgage, you’ll most likely use a portion of the
sale proceeds of your home to pay off the existing mortgage. Make sure you don’t owe more on
your mortgage than what your house is actually worth or you won’t make enough money on the
sale to pay off your mortgage. The best option is almost always to wait on selling your home so
that it can build more equity. This way you can sell your home and buy a new one without
having two mortgages at the same time.
4. Pricing your home incorrectly
If you price your home too high, your home may fall into the seller’s limbo, sitting on the market for
what feels like an eternity. On the other hand, if you price too low then you will likely sell your
home quickly but you risk missing out on a significant amount of money.
The first step to understanding how much your home is worth is utilizing an online calculator.
Afterward, meet with your real estate agent to discuss a good pricing strategy for your home.
They will look at other comparable properties in your neighborhood that sold recently as well as
bring keen insights into what the housing market is currently doing. Together, you’ll determine a
good starting price as well as a pricing strategy that will incentivize buyers if your house begins
to sit on the market for too long.
5. Skipping a pre-listing home inspection
Selling a house is stressful enough, even when everything goes right. But if a homebuyer hires
an inspector who catches an issue like mold, pests, or a cracked foundation, then your stress
levels will multiply as you risk losing a potential sale entirely.
Given the affordability of home inspections, there’s not much reason to avoid them. Getting a
pre-listing home inspection will put your mind at ease as you’ll either know that your home is in
sound condition or you’ll be able to tackle problems before homebuyers have the chance to
bring them up during the negotiation phase. If an issue does arise, you can either fix it or you
can let buyers know and then make a concession during the negotiation phase by reducing the
price of your home accordingly.
6. Not refinishing hardwood floors or cleaning your carpet
If you’re reading this at home, look down. How do your floors look? Even if they don’t look
terrible, there’s a pretty good chance they’re starting to show their age. Since potential buyers
are going to be inspecting every aspect of your home, you should start thinking of refinishing
your hardwood floors and cleaning your carpet.
The best time to have your carpet cleaned or hardwood floors refinished is right before you
stage your home. Since you’ll already be moving most (or all) of your furniture to either a new
home or a storage unit, this is a great time to get your floors done and make them a selling point
to potential homebuyers.
7. Not staging your home for a quick sale
The main point of staging your home is to allow potential homebuyers the chance to picture
themselves living in your space. They get to see a home with furniture and art that’s arranged in
a way that highlights key features of your home, rather than an empty house that echoes every
sound. Staging your home pays off too as 21 percent of agents told the National Association of
Realtors that staging a home increased its’ sale price by as much as 10 percent, making it a
8. Forgoing professional real estate photos
With the advent of cameras on smartphones, everyone likes to think of themselves as a
photographer these days. Even though that picture you took of your dinner last week looked like
it could be featured in advertisements, you’re still probably not ready to take your own real
estate photos. A real estate photographer will make sure that your home looks great when you
list it because not only do they have the equipment, they understand the angles that best sell a
If you have a large home, a stunning view you want to show off, or a large amount of land, you
may also want to consider having aerial photos taken of your home. The views that drones are
able to capture are impressive and can help show off your home in a way that will make sure it
stands out from other houses in your area that are on the market. Even better, drone technology
makes this option more affordable than ever before, allowing you to get a lot more bang for your
9. Trying to sell a poorly lit home
You want to show your home in the best light, so take the time to really gauge the quality of your
lighting by closing your curtains/blinds and looking at each room as though you’re a potential
homebuyer. Make a note of any rooms that are poorly lit or just seem dark and then call an
electrician so that you can have some additional lighting installed.
Even worse than a poorly lit room, however, is when the lights don’t work at all. Sometimes the
light bulb is just burnt out, while other times the socket itself is in need of repair. Consider calling
an electrician before you begin showing your home to make sure it’s shining its brightest.
Potential buyers (and your bank account) will thank you for the investment.
10. Not making your home energy efficient
If you’d like to spend less on your utility bills, you aren’t alone. A study by the National
Association of Realtors found that 33 percent of homebuyers see high-efficiency HVAC systems
as an important factor when looking at a new home. If you have an older home, you should look
into either retrofitting or replacing your HVAC unit altogether as your current system might be
using a lot more energy than it needs to be. This will ensure that you have a system that is
meeting your home’s needs, while also lowering your utility bill.
If you’re committed to energy-efficiency then there are a few extra things you can do. These
options include making sure your home is properly insulated, ensuring that you don’t have any
leaky air ducts, and buying a smart thermostat. Whichever route you pursue, having an energy-
efficient HVAC system will make your house stand out from the competition.
11. Not cleaning your house before trying to sell it
Most of us would probably be lying if we said our homes weren’t overdue for a good cleaning,
so don’t forget to check this box before listing your home for sale. There’s nothing more off-
putting during a home tour than realizing the house is dirty, and potential homebuyers may
wonder what else you’ve been neglecting. By hiring a professional cleaning company, you’ll
guarantee that not only is your home spotless but that you’re going to make a great impression
on homebuyers when they tour your house.
12. Not addressing the exterior of your house
Over the years, your home’s exterior has taken a beating from the elements. With everything
mother nature throws at it every year, the paint on your home’s exterior and the stain on your
deck have likely lost a bit of their luster. So before listing, be sure to pressure wash your house first.
In addition to making sure your house looks its best in the listing photos, you will also
enhance the overall curb appeal when buyers eventually show up for a tour.
In addition to pressure washing your house and deck, you can also take the time to pressure
wash your garage door, fence, patio, driveway, and any walkways you may have.
13. You never got around to repainting
One of the first things a potential buyer will notice when they pull up to your home is the paint. If
you want to make a good first impression, then you’ll need to ensure that your home is painted
an inviting color and that the quality of your paint job is top-notch. While the job of repainting
your house might take a few days, the value of painting your house before selling will be well
worth the effort. A recent study found that painting the exterior of your home has a 51 percent
return on investment.
Don’t stop with the exterior though! We’ve all seen some pretty questionable color choices on
the walls of homes. If you happen to have lime green or bright purple wall, you’ll want to
repaint them to be a more buyer-friendly neutral color. Doing so will make it easier for buyers to
be able to picture themselves living in your home as it makes them think of your walls as a blank
14. Selling a home with a yard in need of some TLC
The other way to make a great first impression is by wowing potential buyers with your yard.
Start by cleaning up anything that may be cluttering your yard, porch, or pathways (things like
gardening equipment or a child’s bicycle). Then you can move onto mowing the lawn, weeding
your garden, and planting some new flowers. If your yard has a damaged pathway, you may
also want to think about fixing or even replacing it as well.
If these touch-ups seem like a lot to tackle while you’re trying to sell your home, don’t be afraid
to hire a landscaper as the cost is well worth it. A study by Turf Magazine found that a home’s
value tended to increase by as much as 10 to 12 percent after making upgrades to the
15. You have mismatched appliances
Maybe your black stove died a couple of years ago and you replaced it with a brand new
stainless steel one. Or maybe you swapped out that white kitchen faucet you always hated with
a copper one that caught your eye. Either way, the result is mismatched appliances. While it
won’t necessarily impact the overall sale price of your home, many homebuyers are going to
find the mismatched color scheme off-putting, so consider making some changes before you
The best way to proceed is to decide which kitchen appliances are your favorite and base the
color scheme off of them. So if that fancy new stove you bought last year is stainless steel, then
make sure your other appliances are too. Luckily, many appliance manufacturers offer discounts
if you purchase multiple appliances with them at once.
16. Lingering during a home tour
Nobody likes a lingerer, especially when they also happen to be the owner of the home you’re
currently touring. If you don’t leave the home during a showing, then potential buyers feel
awkward as they attempt to discuss what they like and dislike about the house. You also
prevent your listing agent from being able to do their job to the best of their abilities as you’re
naturally going to want to answer any questions the buyers have rather than leaving those
questions to your agent. So instead of staying in your home during a showing, try taking the
opportunity to go shopping, run errands, or visit some friends instead. Your agent will thank you.
17. Taking a Lowball Offer Personally
Regardless of your reasons for moving, the fact that you’ve probably lived in your home for
years means that you have a lot of strong feelings attached to it. So when you receive a lowball
offer, it’s natural to be offended.
Instead of walking away, send them back a counteroffer that you and your real estate agent
think is fair. If they really are interested, then you’ll be glad you didn’t let your emotions get the
better of you.