Not everyone has a knack for salesmanship, and this can become painfully apparent when homeowners try to sell their homes.
Want proof? Just ask real estate agents—who are hired expressly to lend their home-selling expertise, often to no avail. Try as they may to get their point across, sometimes home sellers just don’t listen.
Some mistakes might incite behind-the-back eye rolls, while others are so bad, agents felt compelled to reveal them, right here, in the hopes that they might persuade some of you more open-minded sellers to see the light—before you botch yet another sale.
Curious about the home-selling mistakes agents see time and again that make them cringe? Check out these six doozies below to know what not to do when selling your own digs.
1. Your home smells funny
“Sometimes sellers don’t understand how offensive their home smells. I’ve had sellers who smoke like chimneys, and buyers freak out when they go through the house. There are others whose homes smell like they never clean—or bathe. And plenty of sellers don’t understand that the pet smells in their house are overwhelming. If your agent tells you there is an offensive smell, believe it.” – Blayne Pacelli, Rodeo Realty, Studio City, CA
2. Your home has way too much ‘personality’
“I have sellers whose homes are way too customized to their taste, which is going to turn off lots of buyers. It’s hard to sell a property when there are red, orange, and dark brown walls—and so frustrating when a new coat of paint could solve the problem. Granted, some people have uniquely charming taste, but I’ve found that introducing some supplemental staging to soften and neutralize the rooms helps a ton.” – Justin Paulhamus, M Squared Real Estate, Washington, DC
3. You turn down a showing
“When sellers make the home difficult to show, they’re often increasing the amount of time the house will spend on the market, which can reduce their pool of buyers, and ultimately end up attracting lower offers. We understand that kids have nap times or that you prefer to relax on your day off, but buyers aren’t a patient bunch. If your home is unavailable to see on the day they are making visits, they might not make an effort to see it again. The same is true for sellers who constantly cancel showings at the last minute. It makes everyone look bad.” – Rae Dolan, Champions Real Estate Group, Katy, TX
4. You set up cameras to spy on buyers
“I’ve found that many home sellers these days have hidden cameras that they use to watch buyers tour their home remotely. It puts us in a bad spot as the selling agent, because buyers will make unfavorable comments, and we can’t respond. Even if the buyer is not our client, it’s important for agents to build a relationship of trust. For example, we would like to agree with them that the bright-green carpet is hideous. With this new seller tactic of recording, we cannot speak freely for fear of losing the listing. We have to either disagree with buyers—which they hate—or find a way to skirt the issue. But either way, in the end, there are no winners.” – Sarah Findel, Engel & Völkers, Colts Neck, NJ
5. You hang out during your open house
“Nothing makes a buyer want to exit a house faster than a seller who is following them around the home. Some sellers think they can ‘sell’ the buyer on the home, but in reality, it makes the buyer feel uncomfortable. It can also backfire, of course, as sellers overshare, maybe about an unfinished project or a reason that they are selling the house, which can instill doubt in the buyers’ mind.” – Rae Dolan, Champions Real Estate Group, Katy, TX
6. You pose as a buyer to try to drum up interest
“Last year I had a seller stay at an open house in his own apartment, pretending to be a prospective purchaser. He pushed his baby around the apartment in the stroller while loudly talking up all of the attributes of the property in front of other people. Frankly I wasn’t sure whether to cringe or laugh.” – Steven Gottlieb, Warburg Realty, New York City