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The #1 Mistake Sellers Make When Selling Their Home

Nef Cortez

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Although it’s contrary to what many consumers believe, homes sales occur year round; however, springtime is usually the time in the year when most sellers seriously contemplate placing their home on the market for sale and housing inventory tends to increase. In my 25+ years of selling and investing in real estate, it never fails to surprise me, how many sellers often make the mistake of forgetting to showcase their home to appeal to the prospective buyer when they get ready to sell their house.

In spite of how this mistake seems like common sense, and could be easily avoided, it would surprise most people to see how often sellers neglect this very thing. When attempting to sell your home to buyers, try to keep in mind that even before you list your home and set out the yard sale sign, you should develop an objective view of your home as a “product”. The more appealing you make your house (the product) to the general public by cleaning it, repairing things that need to be fixed and making it presentable, the more likely you will get an offer you will be pleased with (presumably a higher one).

Almost without exception, a poorly, maintained home will lower the asking and final selling price of your property. In this day and age of instant coffee, instant internet access and instant everything else, most buyers just don’t want to spend the time repairing anything. Their lifestyles are just too busy! If it isn’t working properly, it usually ends up costing more at the negotiating table than at the hardware store. Today’s buyer usually just wants to move in and get on with their day-to-day business and not be saddled with repair work and remodeling.

Just look at your own busy lifestyle and ask yourself if you would be inclined to do all the cleaning and repair work you are assuming your buyer would like to do. Unless your buyer is an investor or is handy with home improvement projects, you are more likely to be successful in selling your property at a price you are pleased with (a higher one), if you prepare it with the expectation that the buyer does not want to do the work. Usually, if your buyer has to spend time in repairing, they will subconsciously factor in more than the actual cost at the negotiating table. . According to reliable statistics, it can cost the seller two to three times more at the negotiating table than at the hardware store. An investor will do the same except in their case, they will invest the time and effort to upgrade the property and will turn around and reap the benefits.

Furthermore, as more and more realtors are using virtual tours and/or photos of the interior of your home on their internet websites, you need to declutter as much as you can and store personal items so your home’s internet pictures or virtual tours truly showcase your house and its features. There is a whole real estate related industry and process referred to as “staging” growing out of the process of cleaning, decluttering and showcasing your home to prepare it for sale.

Keep in mind that your objective, as a seller, is to allow your buyers to see themselves living in your house and not showcasing junior’s artwork on the refrigerator or dirty dishes in the sink. While depersonalizing your home for the purposes of selling it seems almost strange, it actually serves to allow your home and its features to appeal to a wider market and attract a larger pool of potential, pre-qualified buyers. While it has always been an important principle, with almost worldwide showcasing of homes occurring via the internet, it is almost a necessity to view your home in this new light.

Nef Cortez has been a licensed real estate broker and has held various positions in the real estate and mortgage industry for over 25 years. If you would like to read more of Nef's pithy and timely advice (with the latest info on local foreclosures), visit his website at or read his blog at


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