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Don't Bother with These 8 Things When Selling Your Home

The internet is filled with “how to” advice for selling a home. But what about what not to do when selling a home? Sellers have a long list of things they feel they should take care of when they decide to sell. It is important to distinguish between what is likely to result in a quick sale at a good price, and what is simply not worth the time, effort, and money.

We’re not talking about selling mistakes, but about things that are not necessary when putting their house on the market. 

Prioritizing Return on Investment

The time and money a homeowner invests in getting a house ready for sale depends a great deal on their motivation for selling. Someone who needs to sell quickly has different priorities than a seller wanting to get top dollar for the property. 

Wanting a quick sale can mean doing the bare minimum or opting to sell the house as-is. But homeowners wanting to maximize their profit—perhaps to afford their dream house—may need to make significant changes. 

Sellers need to find the sweet spot when it comes to what they put into the home—enough to reach their house-selling goal, but not so much that they waste their resources or add to the stress of selling a house. Once the goal is clear it is easier to see what should and shouldn’t bother with.

What Not to Do When When Selling a Home

1. Don’t Bother Timing the Market (or Waiting for Spring)

The hot post-pandemic market is cooling a bit, but is still volatile. With high interest rates and inflation, one cannot predict with 100% certainty where it will go next. Jumping into the market before the house is ready, or holding back waiting for prices to rise can be a gamble. 

The same advice applies to the time of year. Yes, spring is traditionally thought of as “house-hunting season.” But plenty of people move in winter, too. Homeowners can go ahead and list the house whenever they are ready—no matter the state of the market or the season—and they are still likely to get favorable offers.

2. Don’t Bother Fixing Things People Will Want to Change

That decades-old linoleum in the kitchen might be ugly, but is it worth replacing? A buyer may rip out brand-new vinyl flooring because they prefer travertine or slate. Perhaps they will want to do a full kitchen remodel that reflects their own style and preferences. 

Before sinking a bunch of money into any improvements, consider how much the personal taste of a new owner would play a part in the decision. As long as floors, countertops, cabinets, etc. are in decent shape, it is often best to leave them alone. 

3. Don’t Bother Getting Too Creative (But Don’t Be Cookie-Cutter Either)

Stick to decorating with neutral colors when selling a home, and resist the urge to get too creative or elaborate with furnishings, artwork, or landscaping. People need to be able to picture themselves and their things in a house, and the best way to do that is with a blank slate. 

But this doesn’t mean the house needs to look exactly like every other one on the block. For example, just because everyone else has boxwoods and hostas in the yard does not mean the homeowner needs to rush out and plant them, too. Something unique but tasteful, like painting the front door to contrast with the brickwork, can actually add a pop of curb appeal compared to the neighbors. 

4. Don’t Bother Replacing Every Appliance

Just like home decor, many buyers have specific preferences when it comes to appliances. Some people might only like a refrigerator with french doors or one that includes an ice dispenser and water filter. Or they may insist on a certain brand.  

As long as everything is in working order, it is often best to leave appliances as-is and allow the buyer to decide if and when to replace them.

Image by PC Photography by Canva.com
5. Don’t Bother Spending Too Much on Renovations

One of the most important things not to do when selling a home is to overspend on changes. Rarely, if ever, do renovations result in a dollar-for-dollar increase in the sales price. According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, cited in a CNBC article, a minor kitchen renovation typically yields a payback of about 81%, while a major remodel only results in a 59% payback. And as we’ve noted, new owners might want to do something different anyway.

Deciding what is and is not worth the money is tricky. Upgrades to a kitchen or bathroom will often make a house more desirable. Fixing up a room that is woefully out-of-date is one thing. But if the room is up to code and functional, spending thousands of dollars on a complete remodel with top-of-the-line fixtures is overkill. A real estate agent can offer advice on finding the right balance between what to change and what not to bother with.

6. Don’t Bother Starting Projects You Can’t Finish

Work-in-progress is not going to help in selling a home and could very well be a deal breaker. All a buyer will see is the inconvenience of an unfinished room and what it will cost them to finish the work.  

It is better to leave a room entirely untouched (aside from cleaning and decluttering, of course) than to make it partway through a project before listing the house.  

7. Don’t Bother Second-Guessing Yourself

If the first offer on a house is a good one, it is natural to wonder if the house was priced too low. This isn’t necessarily true. In a hot housing market, for example, a buyer may be frustrated by being outbid again and again. They could simply be willing to make a generous offer on a house they really like. 

It is also easy to get discouraged when a house does not sell right away, or if offers come in for less than the asking price. Homeowners must be patient and try not to take it to heart. When an experienced real estate agent prices a house, trust that they know what they are doing. Follow the agent’s lead and resist the urge to drop the price without giving it some time.

Another thing not to do when selling a home is to assume something is wrong with it if there are no offers right away. Yes, take a fresh look at the house and make sure there is nothing that was overlooked that needs fixing, cleaning, or decluttering. But don’t forget our advice in #5 about keeping spending under control.

8. Don’t Bother Doing Your Real Estate Agent’s Job

One of the most important things to do when selling a home is to hire a great real estate agent. When a homeowner has an agent they trust, they do not need to worry about things that are part of an agent’s job. The realtor will find comparable properties to set a fair price, take professional photos, advertise the home, find qualified, interested buyers, and arrange showings and open houses. Sellers can, of course, help the cause by sharing their listing on social media, but trust that the agent has a plan and is getting the word out.  

Experienced agents like those at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties know what sells and how to price a house for the St. Louis area’s market. They come equipped with winning marketing strategies to not only sell a house fast but to sell it for the best possible price.

When Selling a Home, Direct Your Energy Here Instead

Stay optimistic when selling a home and don’t bother worrying about things that are not in your control. Instead of agonizing about the state of the economy or whether your neighborhood is desirable enough, take care of things you can change. 

Major deal breakers like a leaky basement or roof, or broken HVAC system are usually worth fixing. But other high-ticket items like re-sodding the entire yard or repouring the concrete driveway are unlikely to seal a deal. Safety issues absolutely must be addressed. Electrical and plumbing are the most important but don’t overlook loose banisters or crumbling concrete steps. 

Basic cosmetic fixes are always a good idea and do not cost much. A new coat of paint throughout the house and some attention to the lawn and landscaping can go a long way. Be sure to declutter as much as possible and consider professional staging

The real estate agents at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties are ready to help you decide what must be done, and what you can stop worrying about to successfully sell your home. 

Cover photo by PC Photography by Canva.com

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