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6 Common Mistakes That Kill Home Sales

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From going it alone to having sky-high expectations, these are the seller mistakes that most often keep a sale from going through.

When the time is right and you’re ready to list your home for sale in Athens, GA, or Portland, OR, there are certain steps that promote a faster, more lucrative sale — and others that can quash buyers’ interest faster than you can put a FSBO sign in the yard.

Ultimately, the difference between worrying about whether your home sale will fall through and having some confidence that your home will sell quickly lies in these selling strategies — just heeding this advice can save you both time and money.

Choosing to go for sale by owner

The good old FSBO (for sale by owner) route: where the seller plops a sign in their front yard and hopes passersby will take an interest in their home for sale. While it may seem like an easy, low-cost way to sell, selling your home without a real estate agent is one of the worst things a seller can do, says Charles Major, a real estate broker for Savvy Realty in Charlotte, NC. Just putting a sign in the yard doesn’t get you the expertise of a broker or on the multiple listing service, Major says.

And for those expecting to save money by not paying a commission, keep in mind, the buyer often also expects to save on commission, says Susan Weir, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Corona del Mar, CA.

“The seller may get the same price as using an agent, but the homeowner then does the work and must know all the disclosures,” she says. “Generally speaking, the seller gets less than if they had listed it for the open market to see.”

Not vetting your real estate agent

The work isn’t over once you decide to list your home with an agent — it’s important for sellers to research agents and make sure their agent is equipped to handle the specific challenges of their neighborhood and the age of their home.

“An agent should be familiar with the neighborhood and the comps,” Weir says. Ask friends and family for recommendations, and be sure to ask about the services their real estate agent provided. Did they host open houses to attract other agents who might have interested buyers? Did they offer tips on staging the home for sale? And did they do a good job negotiating with the buyer’s agent to meet seller goals?


You’ve poured money into renovations and upgrades, and you know your neighborhood is selling well. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get all of that money back when it’s time to sell. Keep in mind that not all renovations provide the same return on investment, and when comparing home prices, you must “compare apples to apples,” Major says.

Real estate brokers who are familiar with an area have a good sense of the local market and can pull data to give a sense of comparable nearby home sales. Trust their expertise and the data available to them or risk having your house sit on the market.

Refusing the first offer

First offers may not always be as high as you’d hoped, but remember, all offers are negotiable. Consider any offer a starting point — any offer is better than none!

Interested buyers want the best value and price for their investment just as much as you want to get the most for your home. Most of the time, there is a happy meeting point. Another way to offset a lower-than-expected offer is by asking the buyer to pay closing costs or refusing to pay for repairs.

Not working on your home’s first impression

“It’s very, very important to have a house as perfect as possible [when listing it for sale],” says Weir. If you’ll be living in the house while it’s on the market, clear the clutter, remove personal photos and knickknacks, and be sure it’s kept clean and tidy.

“Go through room by room and depersonalize,” Major says. “Maximize space and make sure each room tells a story.”

Curb appeal also is important. Be sure shrubbery is trimmed and exterior paint looks fresh, and don’t neglect smaller details, such as adding mulch to flower beds and plantings.

Covering up problems

“The rule is, disclose, disclose, disclose,” Weir says. “It’s the best way to avoid lawsuits.” If you know your house is in need of repairs, but you prefer not to pay for said repairs, be upfront about the issues that need addressing. There’s no way around a seller disclosure report, and most home issues, such as a leaky roof or foundation problems, will come up in a home inspection anyway.

Have you ever lost out on a home sale because of one of these situations? Share your experiences in the tips below!