Can't Sell Your House? 7 Common Selling Mistakes

sellers trying to sell house

Has your house been on the market for a while, but you’re not getting any offers? There are few things more upsetting than not being able to sell a house. This is especially true when trying to coordinate the sale with the purchase of your next home. How long do you wait before you start to worry? 

Frustrated home sellers wonder if the problem is their house or if they are doing something wrong. If you are making one of these house selling mistakes, we have some suggestions.

What’s Wrong With My House?

Perfectly good houses sometimes sit on the market longer than their owners expect. It could be something about the house itself, bad timing, unrealistic expectations, or simply bad luck. When the reason is what we would consider a “house selling mistake,” there’s good news: There is almost always a remedy that will get things moving. 

Often, a few simple steps can fix most house selling mistakes. Here are the most common errors and oversights and what to do about them.

1. You Have Unrealistic Expectations

Recently, houses were being snatched up as soon as they hit the market, and for way above asking price too. It is frustrating when a homeowner knows that other houses in their neighborhood sold quickly. 

But hot housing markets don’t last forever, and things have already calmed down quite a bit. Expecting to find a buyer in a matter of days or even weeks might be unrealistic, depending on what the market is doing right now

It’s hard to know if you’re just being impatient, or if there is something you can do to move things along.

What you can do: Ask an agent for a reasonable timeline. They should have a clear idea of what houses are selling and how long it’s taking based on current market conditions.

2. The Asking Price is Too High

Homeowners who love their homes tend to have an inflated idea of what someone will be willing to pay. The same goes for those who have put a lot into improvements over the years. It’s important to remember that money spent on updates rarely translates to a dollar-for-dollar increase in the offer price. Still, it’s understandable to want to get the best possible price.

Studying comparable properties is important too. See what has sold recently and for how much. How do those properties compare? Are the other homes more recently remodeled? Do they have special amenities? Are they on nicer lots? Further away from a noisy road? These things all matter to a buyer and could indicate why offers aren’t rolling in.

What you can do: Listen to your agent’s recommendations. An experienced realtor understands how to interpret the data to come up with a fair asking price.

3. You’ve Ignored Major Flaws

Unless a house is being sold as-is, buyers might well balk at major problems—for example, that clunky old furnace or a roof that needs replacing. Whether big-ticket repairs have been ignored, or they’ve been done unprofessionally, it could influence buyers to look elsewhere. 

Keep in mind that a “fixer-upper” is a home that needs some love and attention. There are people who love to revive older homes that are “diamonds in the rough” either to live in or for resale. But a run-down, neglected house is something different and is unlikely to fetch a good price.

At the very least, fix the things that could be unsafe (like faulty wiring) and that could make a house fail an inspection. And understand that leaving other big-ticket items in disrepair will likely come off the sale price. 

What you can do: Spring for an inspection before putting the house on the market and fix those things with the biggest bang for the buck. Avoid DIY (unless you really know what you’re doing), and don’t settle for cheap or sloppy work. And never try to mask or hide a big problem. Any inspector worth their rate is going to find it.

sellers trying to sell their house
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4. The First Impression Isn’t Good

Curb appeal matters more than many people think. Buyers might take one look at a home’s peeling paint, overgrown lawn, scraggly trees and bushes, and junk on the porch and drive right by. Keep the grass mowed and the walkway swept. Adding some flowers in planters is an inexpensive way to make the home more inviting.

Once inside, clutter, dirt, pet odors, or the smell of cigarettes can all create a negative impression. A house on the market should be kept as clean and tidy as possible. This can be difficult for a family with small children or pets, but it is often a house selling mistake that many people make.

What you can do: Clean up the yard and landscaping. Take the time to declutter and pack things away or even put them in storage. Think of it as getting a jumpstart on the upcoming move. A thorough professional cleaning from top to bottom can also be a worthwhile investment.

5. The House Is in a Challenging Location

A house might be perfect—except for its location. Power lines in the backyard, a nearby airport, train tracks, or noisy factory, can all be deal breakers for some buyers. Obviously, the house can’t be picked up and moved someplace more pleasant, so it’s best to be honest about it with buyers. Make the most of what the house has to offer and do what you can to make strategic improvements when possible.

What you can do: Planting bushes or putting up a fence can help to camouflage unsightly things like power lines or an ugly building. New windows and special window treatments can minimize intrusive noise and light.

6. “Unique” Features Can Be a Turnoff

Some features can be a selling point—-like a pool, pond, or huge lawn. But buyers will need to budget for the added expense of maintenance and upkeep, which could be a reason the house is not selling. 

The more unusual a feature, the more it can work against someone trying to sell. People need to picture themselves living in a house. So while a homeowner might love their retro lime green shag carpeting, all the buyer sees is how much it’s going to cost to get rid of it…That is if they can look past it in the first place. 

Real estate agents recommend creating a blank slate. This is why they often suggest families remove personal items like photos or certain artwork before showing the house. It goes along with decluttering as a way to let the buyer picture themselves and their things in the space instead of yours.

What you can do: For large features like a pool, have information about upkeep handy, so the buyer knows what to expect. Consider redecorating to remove features that will not appeal to most people (like that lime green carpeting!) Getting professional staging for your home is a good idea, too—your real estate agent might know someone who can help!

7. Poor Marketing Isn’t Generating Interest

A good agent should be doing several things to market a house to the right buyers. This includes not just listing the property but also getting the word out on social media and other advertising platforms. Online photos are the first thing that most buyers will see, so they should be done professionally to properly show off the property. 

Ideally, every inquiry should result in a showing. And the house should be promoted with open houses. If these things aren’t happening, it could be why a house is not selling.

What you can do: If you feel the home is not being marketed properly, it might be time to get a new realtor. The agents at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties are ready, willing, and able to sell your house!

Avoid House Selling Mistakes With the Right Representation

One of the biggest house selling mistakes is trying to navigate the real estate market on your own. Real estate agents are experts in knowing how to price a house to sell and have a lot of useful advice about how to make a home desirable.

The right real estate agent can make the difference between whether the selling experience is positive or negative. When deciding which realtor to work with, ask about their selling strategy. Find out how long they think it will take to find a buyer, and how they plan to adjust their tactics if the house does not sell.

The agents of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties are here to help when you are ready to put your house on the market.

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