6 Seller Mistakes that Can Cost $$

Jane Gray
Jane Gray
Published on August 17, 2017

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are some things Sellers should and shouldn’t do when selling their homes that will probably cost them money. Don’t make these Seller Mistakes…

Buyer Ben gets into contract on a home in Granite Bay.  He’s excited and is just a mere 9 days away from owning his dream home! 

 It’s Monday morning and he shows up a little early before meeting his agent and a contractor at the property to measure for flooring. While he’s waiting, he’s walking around the neighborhood and meets John walking his dog.  Ben says “hi” and tells John that he’s buying the house that’s for sale asks how the neighborhood is.  John smiles broadly and knowledgeably telling Ben that he’s an original owner and that he loves the area.  The openness and rapport, gives Ben the opportunity to ask if he knows much about the house he’s purchasing.  John first asks how much he’s paying and smiles approvingly thinking that that’s good for the value of his home then he asks Ben tentatively if anything came up on the disclosures or inspections that he had questions about. 

Ben shakes his head, “No, some basic dry rot around the door frames, a slight leak under one of the sinks, and one of sprinkler heads is missing.  Nothing major though.  The Sellers are fixing it,” he says smiling.

 John presses his lips together in a forced smile and nods slightly and then shakes his head asking,  “They didn’t say anything about the water in the back?”


When selling a home, it is incumbent on the seller to disclose issues even if they’ve been remediated (aka fixed) so that the buyer is aware of the issue and can call in competent professionals to determine if problems have been fixed or addressed appropriately.

Real Estate professionals agree that deals can go south quickly when Sellers do or don’t do the following.  These are the TOP 6 areas where Sellers sabotage the sale of their homes:

  1. Not disclosing – It’s the law that you must disclose material facts about the property. Insurance claims, leaky roofs, and even a death on the property if it occurred within the last 3 years are just three examples.  California’s laws are more stringent than many other states.  The Seller is required to disclose problems that could potentially affect the property’s value or desirability.  In our story above, Ben just discovered a potential problem with the property he’s purchasing from a neighbor.  Ben is within his rights to back out of the contract and get his EMD back if it can be proven that the Seller didn’t disclose.  It’s also possible that not disclosing could be the basis for a lawsuit! (cha-ching!)
  2. Not taking showings seriously: You must have heard that you only get one chance to make a good first impression?  Here’s a little secret.  Your house is in a beauty contest!  That’s right.  Each and every buyer is looking and comparing your home to all the others they’ve seen.  Even with only a month of inventory, Buyers have choices.  They are looking for the best value that their money can buy:

                   a. Don’t leave a mess!  It doesn’t matter what it looks like in the MLS photos.  With a buyer walking in, first impressions count.  Tidy up.  Clean matters.                   b. Turn on the AC if it’s hot outside, open the drapes or shutters, turn on the lights. If people are uncomfortable because they’re too hot or your rooms look dingy because there’s no light, they can make a wholly unconscious decision that they don’t like your house!  I learned this years ago in one of my very first jobs as a teenager in a restaurant.  Near closing time, the manager would crank up the AC so that customers got cold and they left of their own accord! No one had to tell them they had to leave.

c. Not making the house available – this comes in two flavors.  1) sellers who don’t want to be inconvenienced to let an agent show their house to a client on short notice.  If you think they’re going to come back, that doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes the buyer shows up from out of town with a list and they will choose one home to write on by the end of the day.  If your home isn’t available, you can be sure they won’t be writing an offer on yours!  2) Tenants who haven’t been influenced to cooperate with showings – sometimes that means providing a monetary bonus to your tenants to let agents show the home.

                 d. Being the tour guide – Do you like when a clerk in a store follows you around when you say you’re just looking? I’d say most people don’t and it’s even more important to vacate your house when a buyer is looking so they don’t feel self-conscious about opening closets and checking cupboards and drawers and asking questions.  Buyers want to see if they can live in this house – what’s the quality, the level of cleanliness, among other things and they don’t need the owner giving the guided tour no matter how well-intentioned.

3. Not being realistic – Overpricing your home in the face of valid comps will ensure that the house doesn’t sell fast and it almost always means that it will eventually sell for less than what the original comps were.

4. Selling “As-Is” – Granted, there are valid reasons to sell a home As-Is: a trustee sale where there’s no money or time to fix anything or pre-foreclosure sales.  Buyers looking for a home to live in and seeing the words “As-Is”, usually shy away because they don’t want to take any chances.  That leaves investors who smell an opportunity to get a screaming deal.

5. Listing an empty house without staging or furniture

Think about this for a minute. Have you ever walked into brand new homes?  Everything is pristine, but they don’t ever show them empty do they?  There’s a reason for that.  The scene must be set for the happy story of the next buyers’ life.  Buyers need to see the props that make the house a home.

6. Not working with an experienced professional – Working with an experienced professional can make all the difference in your home selling experience. A good agent is invaluable for providing sound advice and resources to help you avoid many common pitfalls and these very common Seller Mistakes.  Real estate transactions can get complicated.  No two are exactly the same.  A seasoned professional can be an invaluable guide to navigate through to a successful close IF you listen to their advice.

Experience matters.


6 Seller Mistakes that Can Cost $$
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