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The 10 Most Costly Home Selling Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Couple packing home
Be wary of these pitfalls if you want to get the most money out of your home sale.

After years of bad housing news, most of America’s markets have begun to turn around. With the trifecta of increasing prices, historically low interest rates for buyers, and the approaching summer sale season, selling sounds pretty good right now.

But before you list, it pays to do your homework upfront. We’ve put together 10 of the most common seller mistakes to help you save thousands — even tens of thousands — of dollars.

1. Selling your home on your own

Trying to sell your home by yourself is sheer madness. You need the expertise of a professional. And the numbers don’t lie: homes without representation remain on the market longer and end up selling at a lower price than those with a pro at the helm.

2. Mispricing your home

Overpricing or underpricing is a huge and costly error. It’s critical to understand your market: become familiar with comps currently for sale (and those that have recently sold) to understand exactly what price tag your home needs.

3. Neglecting necessary repairs

You will lose money if you don’t remedy repairs before you list your house. It’s less costly to fix things ahead of time, rather than have buyers see all of your home’s faults at the open house. If you don’t, you’re almost guaranteed that prospective buyers will offer less or ask for a credit back for the work that needs to be done before the deal closes.

4. Refusing to tidy up before listing

Clutter eats equity and kills deals. Create a sense of spaciousness by decluttering. From the kitchen countertops to the overstuffed closets to the trophy-lined shelves in the den, it’ll cost nothing to get rid of all that stuff. But it will reap big rewards when it’s time to sell.

5. Listing a vacant house

Viewing an empty house makes buyers feel the same way: empty. Most real estate pros are firm believers that a home should be dressed or “staged.” Don’t worry, you won’t need to go out and buy new furniture and accessories. Chances are, you already have plenty to choose from.

If your furniture is being used in your new house house or is taking a cross-country trek, it might be worth making the small (but mighty) investment in a local staging company.

6. Letting your ego get in the way

Many sellers take negotiating personally and lose out on creating a win-win deal (if not the entire deal). Remember, this is a business transaction — perhaps the biggest one of your life. Take your ego out of the equation and put your head back into it.

7. Failing to complete a full set of disclosures

Too many sellers lose big bucks because they were afraid to disclose their home’s imperfections. Be upfront and forthcoming about all of your home’s issues. It will save you money and time, especially if the buyers end up uncovering problems themselves — because they will.

8. Mistiming the sale

Even a sale that misses its schedule by one day can cost you tens of thousands in extra taxes. Don’t be left a day late and many dollars short. Talk to your accountant well in advance to determine if any long-term capital gains tax breaks apply, and time the sale accordingly.

9. Overlooking extra expenses at closing

Home sellers throw thousands away by not requesting and confirming a list of fees and expenses prior to closing. Review the estimated closing cost statements with your real estate agent well before it’s time to hand over the keys. Don’t expect any discounts and credits on closing day if you overlook this step.

10. Using lousy photos

This is a pet peeve. Too many for-sale homes feature amateur iPhone photos in their listings. More than 90% of all buyers start their home search online, so you’d better make sure you and your agent nail your home’s close-up! You won’t ever get a second chance to make the perfect first impression.