The Top 5 Biggest Mistakes Sellers Make When Listing their Home and How to Avoid Them

You or your client has made the decision to sell, and if you are a Realtor, you have told them what they need to do. You’re done, right? Wrong. Once the listing agreement is signed, the seller begins to panic. They are thinking, now what? They are asking themselves… How do I pack up a lifetime? Where do I start? Who do I call? What do I do first? They need help.

It’s emotionally overwhelming to them; and you, as their agent, can only offer so much guidance and emotional support. Assure sellers that it’s normal to feel discouraged at the beginning of a home transition process and very common to know little about the real estate and moving industries. No one escapes the uncertainty of the sales and moving process, as it’s universal no matter where you live, the size of your home, what you’re packing or where you’re going. There is no way around the process of selling and moving… only through it. So, how can you help?

Keep in mind that your initial focus is to guide the seller to create a visually well-designed listing to sell at top dollar. They need to create order out of chaos and achieve a high-end look for less. They need to re-define the process of visually packaging their homes to sell, saving as much time and money as they can. They must strip the emotion out of the process and, rather than approaching the sale of the house with fear, nostalgia or even anger, step out of the emotional quicksand. Encourage them to view their house as a valuable asset without emotion. Once they change their mind-set and approach the sale of the home in a business-like way, it becomes easier to get the ball rolling and logically prepare the home for a sale that will generate immediate buyer interest.

The 5 biggest mistakes sellers make and what you can do to help them:

  1. It’s not about YOU, it’s about the BUYER.
    Explain to the seller that the process is actually about buyers wants, needs and preferences and not about them. The buyer is in the “driver’s seat”. The seller’s job is to present a house as visually close to what current buyers expect and are determined to find. This dictates that cosmetic changes within their home will almost certainly need to be made to create a modern, up-to-date listing that appeals to a wide cross section of potential buyers.
  2. Believing your house is the exception to the rule.
    Explain that there are NO exceptions to the rule! Their job as a seller is to deliver a house in a condition that will allow a qualified buyer up to one-year of occupancy without making material changes. No one wants to move into “an immediate project.” Providing a 12-month window may be the difference between an offer and stagnation on the market — thus saving time, money and emotional stress.
  3. Not removing your personal footprint.
    Explain the importance of removing their personal footprint and stylized, seller-specific design choices. Their job as a seller is to understand the visual, financial and emotional impact of them NOT removing their personal footprint and how it may impact the buyer. Today’s buyers are easily distracted. Instead of focusing on the actual bricks and mortar, they’re suddenly intrigued by your personal items, asking themselves –” Who lives here? Are they happy? Why are they selling?” Packing up your personal footprint allows you to offer a clean, decluttered, defined blank slate for buyers to clearly see the space they are considering for their own family.
  4. Not conducting an interior and exterior buyer assessment.
    Tour the exterior and interior of the house and each room, looking closely at the way each space presents, but from an altitude of 30,000 feet. There is no need to open each drawer at this stage, but looking at overall presentation, identify “issues” that will need to be addressed and look for opportunities to make meaningful visual and physical updates in order to create value in the mind of the buyer. You will need 2.5 feet to walk comfortably through rooms without feeling physically or psychology crowded. Clear a natural path to easily navigate without stepping over or side-swiping your things. Their job as a seller is to gather the estimates for the recommended updates and make educated financial decisions based on the visual impact of these changes on list price and DOM (days on market).
  5. Believing your buyer will see the value of your home the way you do.
    Explain the importance of visually packaging their house to “speak” to buyers. The buyer and their agent have done their research, viewed the virtual tour, assessed the location; and based on THEIR personal parameters, want to tour the listing. Buyers will give themselves less than 10 minutes to decide if this could be “it”. Many will only devote 4 or 5 minutes and make a snap decision – yes or no. This means they will fly through your rooms in less than a minute or 2 and if they are distracted and a few things seem odd or cause them to pause and question, you’ve probably lost their attention. Their job as a seller is to ask themselves (and be honest): What will buyers see and remember in the 10 minutes they tour my house, and can they imagine themselves living there?

This is an emotionally exciting but stressful life-changing event for sellers. Realtors need to provide the guidance needed to make financially strategic and visually impactful cosmetic updates to their homes that will save them time and money. Empower them to take responsibility for their home transition to ensure a successful sale and smooth move to the next home. So, as their REALTOR and valued resource, guide them to make SMART MOVES!