8 mistakes when selling your home

Some common sense tips to make sure your home sells



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You can always find tips and tricks for selling your home, but what do you need to know to avoid making a mistake? Here’s eight ways you squash a good house sale and how to avoid making these mistakes.

Number 1: Bad photos

If the online photos of your house are dim, blurry, taken at odd angles or of odd rooms, don’t be surprised if you get fewer than expected appointments to view your home for sale. According to recent stats, 91% of all buyers start their home search on the Internet—and the vast majority of those buyers will pass over a listing with bad photos (even if it meets all their criteria on paper!). In fact, there have been times when I’ve had to convince a buyer to give a listing a chance, knowing that the photos really didn’t do the house justice.

Number 2: Half-measures staging

If you’re going to stage your home don’t do a half-baked job. It doesn’t mean that every room needs to be a magazine spread, but there should be continuity, at least from floor to floor. That’s because nothing is more jarring than walking through two or three elegantly furnished rooms only to step into an empty space. If you don’t have a budget for every room consider professionally staging the entire main floor, then declutter and depersonalize all other rooms in the house.

Number 3: Don’t force a mood

A lot has been written on how to set the right mood—from powerful scents, to lighting, to music. The danger, however, is that you can go overboard and overwhelm a potential buyer. While an aromatherapy candle may help provide a calming atmosphere, you don’t need to force buyers into listening to your version of soothing music (some people love whale sounds…some people don’t), or drive them out of a room because the fragrance is too overwhelming. Rule of thumb is to turn off the music and tone down the scents. Now, if you really want to set the mood make sure everything is clean (like your baseboards and windowsills!), draw the curtains open and turn on all the lights. Studies show a well-lit home is more attractive than a darkened home with drapes closed and lights off.

Number 4: Hovering

Want to sell your home? Then l-e-a-v-e. As a seller, your job is to get out of the way. Let your agent interact with the buyers. While you may think that potential buyers want to know the history of your home or know the intricacies of every remodel, redecoration or renovation…they don’t. Truth is, nothing scares off a buyer faster than getting cornered by a seller. Plus, it’s very distracting having a seller traipse around a house after you, when you’re trying to examine the place.

Number 5: Failure to provide marketing materials

People like to touch things. That’s why stores lay out their clothes to be touched and why buyers will stroke cabinets and countertops when they walk through a home. To keep your home top-of-mind, then, you want to offer marketing material that gives buyers something to hold on to. A well-displayed info packet, listing or feature sheet is usually all that’s needed.  

Number 6: Pets

Pets can lower the sale price of your home (see my last post about this) and can actually turn potential buyers away. Yet, nobody wants to get rid of a furry family friend just because they are moving. When possible, consider taking your pets with you during potential buyer viewings and always plan to have your pets out of the house during public open houses. When neither option is possible, consider keeping the pet in a more enclosed space (say, the backyard, if the weather is good). Remember to remove pet evidence during the time your home is up for sale: litter boxes and pet beds covered in hair are all turn-offs to potential buyers.

Number 7: The wrong temperature

I remember showing a newly built home in a well-to-do Toronto neighbourhood that was easily 10 degrees cooler than the spring temperature outside. It was so cold that my client, a potential buyer with a $1-million price range, had to stomp their feet to stay warm. Needless to say we were in and out of the home relatively quickly. The simple rule when selling your home is to keep a good temperature—not too hot in the winter, not too cool in the summer. So what if you pay a bit extra on your gas or electricity bill the month you list your home for sale? The few hundred you spend will translate into a few hundred thousand earned when you convince a buyer that your house is the one for them.

Number 8: Pre-sale home inspection report

Truth be told: I’m a big fan of pre-sale home inspection reports. It’s an opportunity to signal to every buyer that you have nothing to hide and that your home is in sound condition. The problem is when the inspection report highlight problems that you can’t or won’t address. We’re not talking about an inspector who highlights that a furnace is old (and needs replacing) or that a roof is half-way through its serviceable life…but reports that identify “unknown” pipes or provide evidence of potential problems (with no known cause or cure). If you do end up using an inspection report as a sales strategy—they are used on homes in well-sought after areas where listing agents expect a bidding war—don’t ignore what the report says. If there are issues to be dealt with, consider addressing them and then making a note on the report.
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3 comments on “8 mistakes when selling your home

  1. Great piece. And thank you for including item #8 about pre-listing seller inspections. I agree completely. And to take it a step further, I think the pre-listing inspection could be the saving grace to negotiation headaches if the idea could catch on (but that’s a entirely different topic).

    But, to offer help to your problem about items in a pre-listing report that will scare off buyers, as a professional inspector I offer to remove repaired items from the report BEFORE the seller uses it as a marketing piece so it more accurate describes the actual condition of the home. I’ve found that it helps.


  2. Great advice. I will share with my clients.


  3. It’s always important to make sure that you get a real estate agent. If you let them handle the interactions with the buyers then you don’t have to worry about accidentally scaring them off. Real estate agents just make the whole process a lot less scary, in my opinion. http://livinginmarin.com/


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