6 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Selling your home can be tricky. Keep reading to learn more about how to avoid common mistakes and ensure a successful and stress-free sale.

Real Estate
June 2, 2024
6 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Making the wrong decisions leading up to listing your property can lead to tens of thousands of dollars down the drain instead of in your bank account.

Luckily, there’s a combination of research data, best practices, and new information to draw from to help you identify costly and common mistakes to avoid when selling your home. 

#1 Neglecting Necessary Repairs and Improvements

Agents and prospective buyers aren’t just looking at that individual cracked switchplate on the wall—they’re looking for signs of the property’s hidden story that inspectors can’t uncover without tearing the building apart. 

 When selling a home as is, your home may have small but visible dings and damage that you might not think is a big deal. But this can be perceived by inspectors and home buyers as maintenance negligence. 

So before selling your home, do a walk-through and check every door, window, switch, and button. Make time to cover the DIY basics: 

  • Replace dead or low light bulbs and batteries
  • Fix creaking hinges or sticky window tracks
  • Repair or replace damaged or dated low-cost fixtures and fittings
  • Fix dripping faucets, running toilets, and under-sink water leaks
  • Take care of outstanding “honey do” projects and repairs

Next, invest in some medium-effort projects: 

  • Paint interior rooms 
  • Refinish or buff hardwood floors 
  • Steam-clean, stretch, or replace carpets as needed
  • Landscape or seed yard
  • Update light fixtures

Finally, evaluate your skills and budget for larger projects. Talk to your real estate agent to identify the improvements with the highest pay-off potential. While many sellers tackle roof replacements or kitchen and bathroom remodeling, the top projects that’ll make your money back according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report are1,2:

  • HVAC conversion to electric
  • Garage door replacement
  • Manufactured stone veneer addition
  • Steel entry door replacement

#2 Failing to Stage Your Home

Staging doesn't have to equal putting everything you own in storage in favor of rented suites of furniture and decor. There are many benefits of staging a home, but one of the biggest is the potential to sell much faster than average. Work with your realtor and use the resources and belongings you already own to:

  • Maximize the appearance of space and light
  • Minimize the visibility of less sightly aspects or features of the home
  • Create a space that allows potential buyers to imagine themselves living there

We’ve created a home staging checklist, but the most important thing is to start with presenting your home in its best condition: 

  • Deep-clean floor to ceiling, including carpets, closets, basements, and attics
  • Wash windows
  • Spot-clean scuff marks
  • Add lighting and add or remove draperies 
  • Declutter and organize everywhere
  • Minimize personal belongings, collections, and unusual furniture or decor

Thinking it's the right time to sell,
but not ready to leave?

Try Truehold's sale-leaseback.

Click here

#3 Inadequate Marketing and Poor Listing Photos

To sell a home, you need to reach the right buyers. Selling agents aren’t just there to put a sign in the yard and slap up an online MLS listing. Your selling agent serves a vital role in the home selling process, and failing to use all their services can be a costly mistake. You’ll pay dearly for their services, so when you interview agents, ask them to provide a documented marketing plan that includes: 

  • An online listing footprint across multiple sites
  • Social media promotion
  • Digital and email advertising
  • Local networking with connections to your target home buyer pool
  • Bilingual marketing, if appropriate for your location

Additionally, ask whether they cover photography and videography as part of their services. Regardless of format, the results need to be high-resolution images with flattering lighting and framing that are grouped, ordered, and presented logically. High-quality photography can help secure a successful sale and set your listing apart from comparable homes. In addition to still photos, this could include: 

  • High-quality videos, virtual tours, and 3D tours
  • Interactive virtual home staging lookbook of key rooms
  • Outdoor property shots showing multiple seasons
  • Drone footage

#4 Not Being Flexible with Showings

If you want to turn a visitor into an excited potential buyer, they need access to the property on their terms. That means vacating your home at short notice for showings in addition to being absent during open houses and prescheduled viewings. 

You can boost showing experiences with: 

  • Shipshape standards – Once you’ve got the organizing and deep-cleaning done, maintain a visitor-ready state. Don’t start projects that can’t be quickly packed away. Clean up as you go and make sure family members all do their part. 
  • Go-plan bags – Everyone in the family should have a bag kept at the ready if you need to vacate quickly. It might include a sweater, snacks, toiletries, games—anything that could help with an unexpected hour or two away from home.
  • Go plan – Laminate a list of tasks that can be done quickly and note who’s responsible for each. This could include a quick wipe-down of bathroom sinks and toilets, making sure dishes are put away or in the dishwasher, and taking out the trash as you go. 
  • Away plan –  Make a plan for where to hop off to: a list of errands, a tour of different coffee shops or parks, a mall with a movie theater, or friends who don’t mind unplanned visitors. 

#5 Overlooking the Importance of a Good Real Estate Agent

We’ve already mentioned some of the ways your real estate agent can help when selling a home. But what’s even more important is choosing an agent you can trust. When you’re selling your home, choosing the wrong agent can easily end with thousands of lost dollars. Agents aren’t just there to host open houses and walk you through the paperwork at closing. Your agent knows the real estate market and current market trends to lead you to a successful sale. The functions of a selling agent include: 

  • Providing a comparative market analysis (CMA) of your home
  • Knowing current market and micro-market conditions and how they affect your sale
  • Consulting on current buyer preferences, design trends, and staging strategies
  • Financial analysis and guidance to optimize pre-sale property improvement decisions 
  • Pricing options under different conditions (as is, minor updates, major enhancements)
  • Strategic planning and implementation of digital-forward, multi-tiered marketing 
  • Sales skills in showcasing and showing your property
  • Negotiation with potential buyers and advising you on tough decisions

That’s a hefty list of analytical, financial, and people skills. In addition to generic claims of expertise, compare and choose a partner carefully by interviewing multiple agents and asking them to provide: 

  • An agent commission proposal including a cut to the buyer’s agent
  • Number of current clients they’re actively representing
  • Career-length stats: number of houses sold in total, in price range, and in area
  • Current and prior year stats (separate): average days on the market and list to sold price
  • Examples of current or recent home listings and marketing materials
  • Marketing plan
  • A preferred vendor list (cleaners, contractors, etc.)

Post-interview and property viewing, ask for: 

  • A final CMA with updates based on property condition and features
  • Specific recommendations for improvements or modifications
  • Pricing proposal with tiers tied to recommended action/upgrade plans
  • Net sheet showing anticipated net profit after all fees 
  • Local marketing data: inventory, median days on market, and median showings to sale

#6 Underestimating the Closing Costs

While buyers pay most of the nickel-and-dime closing costs, the amount subtracted from your profits on closing day can add up. Home selling costs quickly accumulate, and you may be surprised to see the breakdown. In addition to paying off the remainder of your current mortgage and any other equity-based debt, you’ll need to cover: 

  • Real estate agent commissions: 5.8% of the sale price on average3
  • Closing costs: 1% – 3% of the sale price
  • Transfer tax: usually less than 1% of the sale price
  • Seller concessions: 0% – 6% of the sale price
  • Real estate lawyer fees, if desired by you or required by your state

If this will be your first home sale, you may not realize how big a hit you’ll take on real estate agent commissions—that 5.8% equals $14,500 for a $250,000 house or $23,200 for a $400k property. When you bought your home, you could work with any agent without paying a dime, since sellers typically pay for both the buyer and seller agents involved in a transaction. 

Plus, consider these earlier costs as a percentage of sale price: 

  • Curb appeal and staging: 1% – 4% on average
  • Repairs and improvements: $5,388 on average1
  • Seller’s home inspection: $350 on average4

See related: Can You Sell Your House & Keep the Mortgage?

The Advantages of Truehold Sale-Leaseback

If you’re looking to sell using a faster, simpler method, consider a residential sale-leaseback. With a sale-leaseback, you skip the hassle of a traditional home sale and sell for a competitive price. At closing, you can sign a lease with an agreed-upon rental rate and seamlessly switch to tenant status without leaving your home. 

This way, you have as much time as you need to sort and organize for a move or downsize. With a sale-lease back, you must stay a minimum of 6 months, but as long as you pay rent and meet the terms of your lease, you can set your own timeline to stay or move. 

How Truehold Sale Leaseback Can Simplify Your Home Sale

If you’re stressed at the length of your to-do list you’re not alone. Homeowners can spend months preparing for a traditional home sale. Between repairs, organizing for a move, and clearing out for showings, the road to closing day is typically long and exhausting. 

Unlike conventional listing sales, Truehold allows you to: 

  • Set your own closing date about 30 days from your first contact with Truehold
  • Cash out your equity sooner
  • Avoid buyers dropping out or causing delays with home sale contingencies

In addition to saving by skipping the cost and work of a traditional sale, you’ll also save while renting, with no more: 

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Property tax
  • Major repairs and covered maintenance

Learn more about the advantages and opportunities available with a Truehold sale-leaseback. Call (314) 353-9757 or visit us online today. 


  1. Zillow. The home improvement projects spring sellers should tackle now (and what to skip). https://zillow.mediaroom.com/2022-12-08-The-home-improvement-projects-spring-sellers-should-tackle-now-and-what-to-skip
  2. Remodeling. 2023 Cost vs. Value Report. https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2023/
  3. HomeLight. Fees and Costs Associated With Selling a House in 2024. https://www.homelight.com/blog/what-fees-are-associated-with-selling-a-house/
  4. Bankrate. How much does it cost to sell a home? https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/how-much-does-it-cost-to-sell-house/
Lucas Grohn headshot
Written by
Lucas Grohn
Senior Manager of Sales at Truehold - A Thought-Leader in Real Estate
Lucas Grohn brings over a decade of real estate expertise to his role, where he guides a team dedicated to innovative sales strategies. Known for his thought leadership and diverse experience, from managing brokerage operations to training agents at top firms, Lucas covers a broad span of real estate content for Truehold.
Truehold Logo Image
Chat with a real person & get an offer on your home within 48hrs.
Valid number
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Further Reading

View all posts

Editorial Policy

Truehold's blog is committed to delivering timely and pertinent insights in real estate and finance, purely for educational and informational purposes. Crafted by experts, our content is thoroughly reviewed to guarantee its accuracy and dependability. Although designed to enlighten and engage, our articles are not intended as financial advice and should not be the sole basis for financial decisions. Our stringent editorial practices ensure the integrity of our content, empowering our readers with valuable knowledge.

Ready to get started?

Chat with a real person & get an offer for your home within 48 hours.

Call (314) 353-9757
Get Started