15 Mistakes to Avoid when Selling Your Home

by Shaunna Privratsky


Related Articles

Selling a Home Online

Selling a House

My Story: Preparing a Home for Sale

The economic housing slump continues, with declining property values and a glut of houses on the market. If you are looking to sell your home, you have some stiff competition. It is a buyer's dream, with lots of inventory and prices slashed as low as they can go. So how can you sell your home without selling your soul? First, you have to know the top fifteen mistakes to avoid, in order to get top dollar for your house.

  1. Decorating in a very specific style is a mistake. Victorian gothic might be your cup of tea, but your potential buyers could be turned off by the yards of black netting and creepy statues with blank eyes peering from every corner. Instead, aim for an eclectic, neutral decor that makes most people comfortable. You want your home to be beautiful and buyable.

  2. Likewise, if your decor and furnishings are too personal, it is difficult for the buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. Remove family portraits, heirlooms, excessive collections, pets and their paraphernalia to let the architectural features of your home shine.

  3. Don't upgrade your home right out of the neighborhood. You might think installing a custom, gourmet kitchen will be a top selling point, but if your house is the nicest on the block by several hundred thousand dollars, you will not see a return on your investment. Keep your upgrades within the norm for the neighborhood. Working with an agent and checking past sales will keep you on track.

  4. Another mistake is only addressing the inside of your home. The outside landscaping is just as important. Many buyers might just turn away from your uninviting front door if your curb appeal is lacking. Get ideas by checking out well-manicured lawns and homes in your area. Some simple sprucing up and adding some bright flowers might be the extra sparkle that will land a sale.

  5. You can no longer ignore your "to do" list. All those minor little repairs can throw a wrench in your selling contract. With all the homes available, buyers could turn away from a home that needs a lot of work right away. Spending a little money now can lead to big profits on closing day.

  6. Hiring an inexperienced broker is a mistake. You want the savviest salesperson on your team, so don't be afraid to ask about the person's track record.

  7. Don't wait out the market slump. Although you might be able to ask a bit more if the market picks up, you will most likely have twice as much competition.

  8. Cleanliness can cover a lot of flaws. You are stuck with a refrigerator from 1979? Buyers tend to overlook some things as long as everything is sparkling. No one wants to think about scrubbing someone else's grime off the bathtub. Thoroughly clean every crack and cranny and your home will seem more inviting.

  9. Another way to play up the features of your home is to de-clutter. Most of us have way too much stuff. A good rule of thumb is to take out half of your existing furniture and accessories.

  10. You can go too far with de-cluttering, however. Leaving only the bare walls gives guests that empty feeling. The opposite of inviting is taking everything out of your home. Leaving just a few key pieces of furniture will help buyers visualize how they can use the spaces. It also defines rooms and brings a more finished look to the home.

  11. Refrain from lots of small price adjustments. You might panic if your house doesn't sell right away, and lower your price by $1,000. Then you do it again the following week. This sends the wrong signal to buyers. Setting the price is crucial and can best be tackled by studying the most recent sales in your neighborhood. If you must lower your price, one big adjustment is better than many insignificant ones.

  12. Don't give personal tours. You might be selling your home yourself, but you could be accidentally nixing a sale. For example, you enthusiastically point out the stove that was original to the 1901 building and mention that only one burner really works. "If you jiggle the handle and stand over here, you can get the oven to turn on" is not a good impression for your potential purchasers.

  13. Don't turn down your first offer. Holding out for more money is not a good strategy. If you have a qualified buyer, with a reasonable offer, take it. You usually won't get a better offer if your house sits on the market too long.

  14. Using second-rate pictures is a mistake. Good pictures are a must, since most people will take a "virtual tour" before committing to an in-person open house. If your agent doesn't have one, rent a wide-angle lens camera for stunning pictures that will wet the buyer's appetite.

  15. The final mistake is putting all your marketing into one venue. Today's savvy consumers will check many places for homes before they buy. The Internet is an excellent place to start. Try to list your home in as many spots as possible, to increase the number of buyers coming to see your home. Get more exposure by adding a video tour to You Tube, eBay, Yahoo and Craigslist.

By avoiding these top fifteen mistakes, you will be well on your way to selling your home. Despite the tough market, savvy sellers will always come out on top.


Shaunna Privratsky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

Take the Next Step:

  • Avoid these top 15 mistakes and you'll be on your way to selling your home despite the tough market.
  • If you haven't looked for a lower mortgage rate in the past year you could be wasting money each month. Use our simple tool that compares different lenders to see what your monthly mortgage payment could be. It's private, only takes a minute and could show you how to save thousands!
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here

Stay Connected with TDS





Subscribe to TDS Newsletters

Join over 250,000 other subscribers!

Join Fido!

Discounted movie tickets
Sign up for Savvy Savings at TDS and get a free membership for discounted movie tickets!

Your Email:


Surviving Tough Times
Dollar Stretcher Parents
Dollar Stretcher Tips
The Dollar Stretcher (text-based)
Financial Independence
The Computer Lady
Computer Lady Lessons
Healthy Foods

Your Email:


View the TDS Privacy Policy.