Bad Home Selling Advice Some People Believe

Looking to sell your home?  It’s easy, it’s a Seller’s market… get a price off Zillow, take some pics on your cell phone, stick a sign in the yard and buyers will flock cash in hand to purchase your home on the first day it hits the market.  

Hmmmm, not so quick … here are some common pieces of advice often given around the barbeque that could have your home sitting on the market for months.

  1. Price it high, it’s a Seller’s market

It’s true, we are in a Seller’s market right now.  Buyers and their agents are struggling to find quality homes for sale, and when they do they often end up in a bidding war.  Savvy agents are using escalation clauses in their Offers to Purchase – a sure sign that bidding wars are to be expected. Most buyers know what is available in their price range/area and they also know the price for which comparable homes have sold.  Overpriced homes are still not moving even in a Seller’s market – they may be viewed for comparison purposes and have offers – but even in a Seller’s market, a buyer will rarely knowingly overpay for a home, no matter what their circumstances.


  1. Believe Zillow and other automated valuation tools

Price your home around the Zestimate and you’ll sell.  The Zestimate is an Automated Valuation based on public information and gives a good generalization of a home’s value, but how accurate is it?  Look at some of the other Automated Valuations out there, for example,,, Each one will give a different estimate for the same home, so which do you go with – the highest, the middle, the average? Price your home through the eyes of the buyer – what else is on the market right now, what price did homes like yours sell for, what unique attributes does your home have and do these help or hurt your price?  Pricing requires knowledge of your home, detailed knowledge of your local market and the ability to use these to attract buyers. Maximize the amount you receive by leveraging every tool available.

  1. For Sale by Owner – who needs a realtor in this market?!

It’s a Seller’s market so it’s easy to sell on your own and avoid paying commission.  6% commission on a $200,000 home is $12,000, who wouldn’t want to avoid paying this? Before you decide, ask yourself if you are experienced in marketing and know how to present your home to pull in buyer’s agents.  Are you able to manage the steps in a real estate transaction – from yours and the buyer’s legal obligations to working with a buyer on financing (requirements of VA, FHA, FHA 203k, etc.). Do you have a title company?  How do you identify a good or bad offer (it’s more than money.)? There are a lot of steps and a lot of decisions in a real estate transaction. If you do a Sale by Owner, you’ll need to know the steps. There is tons of information on the Internet and some is good….some is not.  I recommend research, research, research if you decide to go this route.

  1. All agents are the same….

If you do decide to use an agent, please choose wisely – your agent is a key member of your team and there to help net you the most money for your home.  Choosing an agent is a big topic on its own, but there is no substitute for experience. A pricing and marketing plan for your specific property (avoid generic one size fits all plans) is essential and your chosen agent needs to have the presence/drive to get your transaction completed.  

There are a lot of people and steps involved in selling a home and you need to have confidence your real estate agent can get the job done for you. Aunt Edna’s son has a real estate license and makes you laugh every Thanksgiving dinner, but he may not be the person to trust managing probably the largest financial and emotional transaction of your life

5. Make Improvements, Don’t Make Improvements

Don’t do anything as the buyer will want to add their own touches.   Renovate so the home looks like new and it will sell quicker for more.  It’s tempting to launch into major renovation projects thinking you’ll realize more money – it looks easy on the DIY Channel, right?

Major renovations such as new kitchen or bathroom typically will not return your investment short term when you sell – so the cost of the upgrades may not be covered by a better price.  On the other hand, don’t assume a buyer will be able to see past the water damaged ceiling from a leak 10 years ago or will like your teenaged daughter’s choice of color for an accent wall.  There are some smaller jobs that can be done that will help the home show better, sell quicker and likely get you a higher price – generally try to address any maintenance and repairs as well as any features that are very taste specific.  If the home looks tired and run down, some buyers will be ok with it but will expect the condition to be reflected in the price. This is where your agent can help you understand the standard for the pricing in your neighborhood and what will be acceptable to buyers vs. what needs to be done.  

  1. You must do frequent open houses

Everyone has an open house, it’s a great way of showcasing your home….or is it?  I saw a statistic recently that said about 2% of buyers attended an open house for the home they eventually purchased.  A good open house should create a buzz in the neighborhood – neighbors should be personally invited, social media should be leveraged, buyer’s agents should be invited, flyers should be distributed – and at best there is only a very small chance your future buyer will attend the open house.  At worst, lookie-loos, financially unqualified dreamers and people that just want to see how you live will file through your home on that Saturday afternoon.

You decide the value of open houses in your marketing campaign, but in most cases, they are only valuable for the agent to pick up buyer leads and not a helpful tool in selling your home         

  1.  Timing the market

Anyone who reads the financial pages has a general idea where the economy and the real estate market is right now – and can probably guess where it is going in the future.  Should you wait to sell your house at the peak of the market? That would be nice! You ride up and jump off right at the perfect moment…………but suppose you miss the peak? The reality is that none of us can time the real estate market perfectly.

Prices may start to drop, or worse, your home may sit on the market too long or require price reductions to sell – what does that do for your plans to retire, or move closer to family or cash out equity?   The impact of mistiming the market could cost you more than just money. Another reason a qualified, local expert is an essential partner in your home sale.

Sell at the time that is right for you, take that life step of moving home when it suits you – it will feel good.   

  Are you considering selling and would like a conversation with a real estate professional about a campaign that suits you and our local market?

I look forward to hearing from you soon! Contact me here