Mistakes home sellers make

Mistakes home sellers make
Nice house. Why hasn't it sold?

Common mistakes home sellers can easily avoid

It is well documented that you have to make a few mistakes on the way to success, just like you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette or a cake or an egg salad sandwich. If you avoid mistakes at all cost, it will cost you all progress. However if you make too many mistakes it will also cost you all progress. There are lots of mistakes that home sellers can make so let’s do a quick review so that we can try our best to avoid them.

These mistakes are in no particular order:

Not looking up your home on Realtor.ca

Although most serious buyers are already working with a Buyer’s Agent, you want to check your listing on Realtor.ca to ensure that it appears as it should. Potential home buyers will often visit Realtor.ca whether or not they are receiving listings directly from their agent. 

Expecting to change something in the agreement 

Once the conditions are removed and the agreement is signed the contact is firm and binding. You should not expect the buyers to agree to anything (like changing the closing date) unless it is also in their best interest of offered with some sort of incentive. 

Not being available

It is a great idea to be away during the sale of your home. You will not be bothered with showings and keeping the place clean if you are on holiday in Mexico, or at the cottage…But be reachable. With electronic signatures, you don’t have to be around but you should be reachable by internet and telephone when the offer comes in.

Not repairing before listing

Most every home can use a little maintenance before being put up for sale. Fix or replace anything that is broken so that you will attract the highest offer possible. 

Not paying attention to your condominium meeting notes

It is in your best interest to be on your condo board, attend meetings and at the very least read the condo meeting notes. You do not want to be surprised after listing with any news of a special assessment, a lawsuit judgement or pending repairs or renovations. 

Walking away from a low-ball offer

Although there is a good chance that an insulting offer will fail, as a real estate agent, I never like offers to die on my side of the table. Don’t get emotional and walk away. Sign it back at and send a message that you are in charge.

Not holding your agent accountable to doing the things they said they’d do.

A lot of promises are made during listing presentations. I encourage you to take notes so that you can follow up with your agent once your home is on the market and ensure that promises are kept.

Being home during showings

It is hard for prospective buyers to envision themselves living in the home while you are there. Leave for all showings and open houses.

Not understanding the importance of staging

How we sell a home is often very different than how you live in it. Often, staging simply involves getting rid of some of the furniture and clearing off the counters and shelves.

Not having a strong online presence 

The internet is the first place most people go for information. Although Realtor.ca is where the majority of buyers start their search, your home should be marketed as many places on line as possible. That means brokerage websites, blog sites, photography sites, market place sites, news sites and of course social media sites

Ignoring maintenance issues 

There is an expression I like that goes, “everyone wants to build, but no one wants to do maintenance”. If you do not take care of your furnace, your eavestroughs, your trees…the evidence will be obvious and you will not get as much money as you could have.

Accepting a bully offer

If you accept a pre-emptive offer, you likely could have gotten more if you had waited.  

Not moving out on time

On closing day, you have to be out of the house before ownership can be transferred to the new owner. It is nice to have a few days of overlap to move out of your old home and into your new home. Why rush it and hold everything up?

Panicking if you have not sold in the first week

Your agent should have told you what to expect. Your agent should have told you how many days on the market homes are currently averaging. Don’t worry if you haven’t sold in the first day or the first week. It just means the right buyer hasn’t seen your property yet. 

Thinking that the price is the price

Most agents do our best with proper pricing. If your agent is ethical and has been in business for a while, he or she will go over the best comparable properties to your home and show you what’s recently sold and what your completion is. We will do our best to set the correct listing price. However, the final selling price is out of our control. There are simply too many factors out of our control. 

Overpricing your home

It is ok to leave a little bit of room to negotiate. But if you are priced too high above the market rate, potential buyers will think that you will be hard to negotiate with. Follow the pricing norms of your local real estate market.

Forgetting about curb appeal

You only have one chance to make a good first impression and that starts at the outside of the home. If the buyers can easily find fault with the outside of the home, they will have already shifted into faultfinding mode before going inside.

Thinking that you will get 100% return on improvements

Some things you do to get ready for sale and some things you do for your own enjoyment. Painting has good ROI. Putting in a swimming pool does not. 

Thinking your home is better than best

Most people place a higher value on their own home than similar homes in their neighbourhood. It’s natural to think that your home is better than others. Buyers are more objective. 

Not being honest with your Realtor about your home

Your real estate agent is on your side. We have fiduciary responsibilities to negotiate on your behalf, to keep your secrets and give you honest opinion. If there is a problem with your home, it is much better to know about it before a home inspection or a court case. 

Not recognizing bad smells

I always think its funny when I’m watching a TV commercial that advertises something as smelling “farm fresh”. Have you ever smelled a farm? But farmers get used to it. And homeowners get used to the smells of their own homes. Just like you have to try to see your home through fresh eyes, you should try to see your home with a fresh nose.

Not budgeting for getting the house ready for sale

You may need to paint, take some things to the landfill or put into storage or pay a handyman for minor repairs. You might need to spend a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars investing in getting your home market ready.

Mistakes home sellers make to be continued…


The irrefutable truths of home selling

More from Keith Marshall
Moving in the Spring? What do you think your K-W home is worth now?
Maybe you’re relocating to Waterloo Region. Maybe you’re thinking of moving. Maybe...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *