for sale by owner home behind gate

There are plenty of ways you could sabotage your home sale without even realizing it. First up? Trying to sell it without expert help.


Just because the market seems prime, don’t become overconfident or careless with your own home.

There are plenty of ways you could sabotage the sale of your home without even realizing it. Here are the top eight ways people screw up their home sale, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

1. Selling a house “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO)

The market is hot, so you can save on commission by selling your home by yourself, right? Try again.

Despite the lure of not having to pay an agent a commission, you’ll probably be better off with the expertise and know-how of a professional, who can help you navigate the stacks of paperwork, provide priceless neighborhood knowledge, and negotiate on your behalf. In many cases, you’d be better off paying that commission, since a professional can help you get top dollar — netting you a bigger profit even after paying a real estate agent’s commission.

2. Mispricing your home

Overpricing your house is an easily avoidable mistake. Yes, the market is hot. But not hot enough that you can push the envelope and price your home for way more than the comps will support.

You run the risk of losing money if your home becomes a stale listing. Buyers are smart and working with agents too, so you can never assume someone will come along and unknowingly overpay.

3. Using lousy photos

Today, 90% of all home shoppers start their home search online, and bad photos can tank your home sale. Practice patience and wait for a beautiful, sunny day, clear clutter from your countertops and floor, and snap some high-quality pictures when the light is streaming in your windows.

4. Refusing to make obvious repairs

Take care of repairs before the house goes on the market. Showing the house when there are leaking faucets, cracks in the walls, water stains on the celling, and a busted water heater are all turnoffs to potential buyers.

And if you do find a buyer willing to overlook those necessary repairs, they’ll almost certainly ask for discounts or credits exceeding what it would have cost you to make the repairs beforehand.

5. Keeping all your clutter and junk

So you think buyers can look past all your clothes, clutter, and overflowing shelves? Unlikely. Clutter makes your home seem smaller, ultimately eating equity and killing deals. Make time for some serious decluttering before you list your home.

6. Ignoring the backyard

Don’t forget to capitalize on your backyard. In the summer and fall, everyone’s attention turns to the outside spaces, where they can dream of warm summer nights and outdoor entertaining.

That backyard patio is not just for storing old bikes and broken patio furniture. In a buyer’s eyes, it can be the most important “room” in the house. Stage your backyard and outdoor entertaining areas as beautifully as you would the interior of your home. Green grass, flowers, and trimmed trees should be maintained to the same standard as your curb-appealed front.

7. Hiding problem issues from the buyers

It takes confidence upfront, but it pays off to disclose all information. If you did renovations to the house without a permit, disclose. If there was a roof leak that damaged the attic two years ago, disclose. If the electrical blows every time you run the dishwasher and the microwave at the same time, disclose.

If you hide anything, the buyers always find out — and you set yourself up for the liability.

8. Getting your ego involved when negotiating

Real estate transactions are business deals, plain and simple. There is no room for ego here. If an offer comes in low, the mistake is to be insulted and not counter back. Always counter back and keep deals in play. Remember your end goal: getting your house sold and having a smooth closing.