So you’re selling your home for the first time. You’re excited, but a little stressed out by the process. Naturally, everyone wants their home to sell quickly and for above the asking price, but this is not always the case. Luckily, you can set yourself up for success by avoiding these common mistakes first-time home sellers make. 

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1. Not working with an agent

In an attempt to keep costs low, many first-time sellers are inclined to go the for sale by owner (FSBO) route. 

Listen, we get it. But this is one of those common mistakes first-time home sellers make that doesn’t actually pay off.  When it comes to selling your home with an agent, the proof is in the pudding. 

According to a study by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), for sale by owner listings typically sell for less money than those sold by real estate professionals.  In 2020 FSBO homes sold for an average of $217,900 compared to $295,000 for homes that worked with a real estate professional according to NAR. 

This largely is why 89% of all home sellers choose to work with an agent in the end.

Additionally, there are a lot of steps that go into selling a home and it’s unlikely that you have time to manage all of those steps on your own. After all, selling a home is a full-time job with its own skill set.  

Odds are you’re not a marketing expert and determining the correct cost of your house takes a lot of research. Unless you want to field endless phone calls, organize home showings, and dive into a mountain of paperwork,  we suggest saving the home selling process for the pros.

2. Staying Home for Showings

Staying at home during a showing is another one of the common mistakes first-time home sellers make. 

Letting strangers into your private home, especially while you’re not on-site certainly feels a little uncomfortable. Especially when it’s your first time. 

However, NAR® cites homeowners being present during showings as the number one cause for houses staying on the market for extended periods. 

Finding an agent you trust and connect with will help you feel more comfortable with leaving your house vacant for showings. 

In addition to leaving your home for the showing, you’ll also want to consider the state your home is in for showings.

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3. Forgetting about appearance

These days most homebuyers turn to the internet first when looking to buy a house. According to NAR®, 81% of Older Millennials, 80% of Younger Millennials, and 78% of Generation X found their home on a mobile device in 2019. 

That means the photos you post of your home might be your only chance to make a good first impression. 

Typically the responsibility of staging your home and taking photos of it will fall to your listing agent. However, don’t be afraid to get involved in the process yourself as well. 

You can always ask to see the photos before they’re posted to make sure they look as appealing as possible.

Additionally, it’s up to the seller to keep up appearances throughout the showing stage as well. 

After all, a potential buyer who was excited by your photos online might be disappointed when they show up to a messy house. 

4. Expecting a full return on your renovations

In most cases, your home will require a little TLC before you sell. Whether that’s a fresh coat of paint, a brand new roof, or updated electrical outlets, you can count on buyers to notice any problem areas in the house. 

First-time sellers can benefit from hiring their own home inspector to do a sweep of the house long before the buyers inspector comes in. 

This will help you identify any problems you might not be aware of so you don’t end up with a disappointing surprise down the road. 

According to a NAR® survey, more often than not homeowners who undergo renovations find that these projects are worth the cost in the end. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you should expect a 100% return. For example, just because you invest $10,000 in a new roof, does not mean the value of your house will necessarily rise $10,000. There are a lot of variables that can increase, or decrease the value of your home during this process.

Be sure to set realistic expectations when it comes to upgrades and renovations during the home selling process and work with an inspector to make sure you don’t miss anything vital. 

5. Investing in the wrong renovations

It’s worth noting that not every single renovation that can be done, should be done. To ensure you’re not investing in unnecessary home projects, talk to your realtor first. 

They can let you know what major changes are needed and which ones might actually dissuade potential buyers. 

This is a simple step that can save you loads of time, and money.

6. Being afraid to ask questions/ being afraid to be too involved

Whether you’re curious about the marketing efforts being used to sell your home, or you have questions about your options during an offer negotiation, never be afraid to ask your realtor

Both you and your agent are responsible for making sure the marketing materials are truthful and you can be held liable if they’re not. 

Getting more involved can feel intimidating, but remember this is your home. And, it’s probably the biggest transaction you will ever make. So, it’s more than okay to want to be involved in the process. 

You’ll never know if you don’t ask. 

7. Failing to do adequate research

Like any working relationship, you want to find a realtor that you click with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean working with your close friend who happens to be a real estate agent. 

Mixing friendship with business is not typically advised for a number of reasons. 

With that being said, you’ll still want to do a little research to find the right agent for you. 

The majority of people work with the first realtor they come across, but putting in the work to find a perfect match is worth it.

8. Buying before selling 

Whether or not you should buy a home before you sell your current one is dependent on a number of factors. 

Things like the state of the market, your timeline, and your finances will come into play when making this decision. 

 Selling before buying is generally the more responsible choice, especially if you’re selling in a buyers market. 

However, this means you’ll likely need to find temporary housing before you find your new forever home.  

Selling before buying also buys you more time so that you don’t get stuck accepting a rushed sale for way less money. 

9. Being uninformed about mortgage penalties 

Before you get deep into the selling process, be sure to address your existing mortgage situation. 

How much is left on your current loan and are you able to pay it off early? Are there stipulations in your agreement around this? Are you in a good financial position for your next home purchase? Be sure to ask that you qualify for your next mortgage. 

This is one of the most important things any homeowner should keep in mind when they’re considering selling a home. 

10. Forgetting to be honest with your realtor

Intentional or not, withholding important information from your realtor won’t serve you, long term. When it comes to mistakes first-time home sellers make, this is one that could come with big consequences. While you might avoid a tough conversation, it can have severe implications down the road. 

Remember, they’re on your side and want your home to sell as bad as you do. This is what you’re paying them for, after all! 

Something like a long term water heater rental, could be a detail that you might forget. This is something that the new owner would have to take on. So be as diligent as possible here. 

Treat it like a consultation with an insurance broker, any and all pre-existing conditions have got to be brought up, just in case.