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60 Home Seller Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (1-20)

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Whether you’re selling your first home or your 20th, it’s crucial for you to know the common (and not so common) mistakes that sellers make that often cost them money. Below is a detailed- but not exhaustive- list of the first 20 of 60. Be sure to check back regularly as this list will grow.


1. Trying to “time” the market.

This approach is not only frustrating, it’s also flawed. Read on here to see what you should do instead.


2. Not educating yourself on the condition of market.

Market knowledge is crucial. When selling your home you need:

    • Up-to-the-minute stats on what has sold in the past 90-180 days.
    • Details about how they compared to your home.
    • The number of days they took to sell.
    • An understanding of what competition is on the market now and the current absorption rate.

Have an expert interpret these findings for you to understand how each detail will affect your selling decisions. Market knowledge is key to getting the most for your home in the shortest time.


3. Pricing your home too high. 

Often the Achilles heel for sellers, pricing your home too high is very tempting. This mistake deserves a post of its own. You can find it here.


4. Not leaving your home for showings.

We understand the fear. It’s your home and you’re nervous to let strangers wander through without your supervision. Remember that a licensed and insured Realtor will escort any buyer viewing your property. It’s important to reduce the nervousness about this, since there is a vital reason you should not be there. Buyers need space to themselves so they can picture themselves living there.  If you stay, they will always feel like guests in someone else’s home. They will hesitate to open closet and cupboard doors, and they will probably leave more quickly than they would have if the house had been empty. All this reduces the chance of a sale.


5. Not investing in your home before you sell.

When you decide the time is right to sell, it’s important to view your home as an investment. For most people, real estate is their largest asset. Choosing to put your home on the market “as is” with little or no preparation is likely leaving THOUSANDS of (possibly) tax-free dollars on the table. Although every situation is different, we’ve put together a list of tips for every room in the house. You can find it here.


6. Not completing necessary repairs.

Buyers are “visual” shoppers, and those looking at homes that need work are looking for a deal. If it’s within your means, it’s wise to complete necessary repairs before listing. It will help sell your home faster, for more money, and with fewer headaches.


7. Not knowing which repairs you should (and shouldn’t) do.

Completing repairs doesn’t always mean taking on an extensive project, it can mean completing minor projects you’ve already started. Since renovations take time and money, It’s wise to get professional advice on which projects you should, and shouldn’t complete. We would be happy to do a walk-through of your home to give you our thoughts. For an excellent place to start, click here.


8. Not determining your penalty for breaking your mortgage prior to selling.

This should be one of the first phone calls you make when you are thinking about selling. Check in with your lender – especially if it’s still early in the mortgage term. Ask them what penalties would apply if you were to break your mortgage. Since penalties can cost thousands of dollars, it will be an important part of your financial calculations. If the penalty is high, ask whether you have the option to port your loan to a new home.


9. Not decluttering and staging.

Decluttering involves removing excess furniture and knickknacks. It’s one of the first, and most important, tasks when getting your home ready for the market. Buyers prefer open, spacious rooms, over cramped, cluttered spaces. Buyers cannot see the potential when we don’t remove excess furniture. When they leave, all they remember is how much “stuff” was in the house, not the home itself. Clutter will show up in all the pictures and marketing materials, and may even turn buyers off before they see it in person. Next is staging. Staging involves placing furniture and artwork attractively to create a feeling. Effective staging will highlight your home’s true potential and make a buyer WANT it. Staging costs money, but in most cases it’s definitely worth it.


10. Not painting because the buyers will change it, anyway.

We hear this objection often, but freshly painted homes are far more attractive to buyers and sell for more money. When we live in our homes, we often use colours WE like and these colours may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. Many buyers dread painting after the brutal process of moving. A home that’s freshly painted in neutral tones offers a tremendous advantage.. Buyers know they can move in and worry about accenting the home to their taste later.


11. Not deep-cleaning the house before showing it.

Cleanliness often registers in a buyer’s mind as a measure of how well maintained the home has been. Even a house that looks like an outdated “time-capsule” will impress potential buyers if it is spotless and pristine. Walls, windows, baseboards, floors, interior cupboards, nooks, crannies – the cleaner they are, the better the chances that buyers will perceive a higher value. This applies to the state of the exterior of the home, too. It is well worth your time to neaten up flower beds and power wash walls, decks, walkways, and driveways.


12. Not de-personalizing your home.

Stagers say this all the time, but it bears repeating: Make it easy for buyers to see themselves at home in the space. This can be difficult if the decor is overly personalized. Think beyond family pictures, too.  Put away treasured religious items, personal mementos, children’s artwork, trophies, and collections. Paint all the walls a neutral colour and remove any mismatched or strictly sentimental pieces of furniture. Buyers want to feel like they have entered their new home. They are looking for a space where they can imagine a fresh start, not one where they are invaders into the personal space of the current owners.


13. Assuming all real estate agents are the same (we are not).

All real estate agents in Ontario complete the same initial schooling to receive a licence. This, however, does not mean we all operate the same way. Obtaining a real estate licence is like learning all the rules of golf but never picking up a club. Once licensed, it’s up to each agent to continue learning, to choose how they would like to operate, to determine how they spend their money, and to decide how they will deal with clients and other realtors. As a consumer, you need to be very careful when selecting representation. An excellent place to start is by reading online reviews. If an agent has negative reviews or no reviews at all, it may be wise to consider other options. You also want to ensure the agent you choose works full-time in the industry. Some agents are “part-timers”, working a full-time job elsewhere, while fitting ‘the real estate thing’ in on the side. These agents won’t be able to dedicate the time, energy or expertise you require.


14. Assuming all agents have the same marketing plan (we do not).

Failing to hire an agent with an excellent marketing plan WILL probably cost you thousands of dollars. A highly effective marketing plan ensures we portray your home in the best way, to the largest group of people, in the shortest time. Placing your home on the MLS and putting up a “For Sale” sign is not enough. You can read more about what we do here.


15. Picking an agent with the lowest commission.

Have you heard the saying, “You get what you pay for?” This applies when selling your home. When an agent offers a low commission, it can mean a few things.
-They don’t see value in their service and therefore, they discount it.

  • They don’t spend money marketing your home.
  • They are desperate for the listing because they need money.
  • They are bad negotiators and are letting you know in advance. If they can’t negotiate their own commission, how can they negotiate top dollar for you?

This is not to say all agents who offer low commission are bad at their jobs, there are exceptions to every rule. If you feel this is the case, be sure to read their reviews, clarify the services they are offering, and compare apples to apples.


16. Hiring the agent who offers to list your home at the highest price.

You may lean toward hiring the one who suggests listing your home thousands higher than any other agent. This may sound fantastic – but caution is in order. There are several reasons an agent may offer an unrealistic listing price:

  • They are inexperienced and don’t know the market. If this is the case, they may be sincere in their suggestion. But beware of sacrificing the benefit of experience when selling your largest asset.
  • They are trying to “buy” the listing. Once you’re in the contract, they beat you down on the price and waste valuable time on the market. We suggest listing at market value. Read more about the dangers of overpricing your home here.


17. Hiring a part-time agent.

Selling your home requires the full attention of the agent you hire. Your representative is responsible for many time-sensitive tasks before, during, and after the transaction. There is no way a part-time agent will have the time and energy to do the job wholeheartedly. You need a team that includes at least one full-time agent with partners or support staff to sell your home with the best outcome.


18. Hiring a solo agent.

Selling a home is no minor task. With the right amount of help, a solo agent can handle selling a home. Issues arise, however, when you’re not their only client. Agents who work alone can quickly reach their working capacity. When life happens, as it inevitably will, tying up their time, it will become difficult for them to return calls promptly and provide the time and attention each individual client requires. Working with a solid team of professionals solves this problem. They can help each other ensure that your needs are met, and that you never have a gap in your service. Wonder what it’s like to work with us? You can read our reviews here.


19. Picking the offer with the highest price in multiple offers.

This may or may not be a mistake. The decision can be complex, as there are important factors to consider besides price. When you receive multiple offers on your home, your agent has created a scenario where you stand to walk away with more money than you were asking. It’s important to select the right offer because, if that deal does not work out, it’s not always easy to replicate the situation. It is crucial to look carefully at all the details in each offer. There are three key areas to consider: price, closing date, and conditions. An offer with no conditions is almost always worth substantially more than an offer of the same price with conditions. Be sure to have a competent agent on your side to help navigate this stressful, but exciting, time!


20. Thinking spring is always the best time to sell.

Do you remember the spring of 2017? If you were a home buyer or seller, you may never forget it. The market was HOT and it was set to be a busy season. That spring would be different, though. The government took preventative measures to cool what they felt was an overheated market. They implemented a “stress test” that shook the real estate market for the rest of 2017. Things did cool off, and quickly. The lesson is this: If the market is good, now is the best time to sell. Yes, spring markets traditionally perform well. But we can’t know for sure what next spring will be like. Spring of 2020 confirmed this truth with the unwelcome arrival of COVID-19. The entire globe has suffered with a pandemic – the effects of which are far more than simply economic. The real estate market, as you might expect, had not been quieter in the past 100 years. Thankfully, the market has recovered, but many sellers got caught in the middle and sold for less.

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