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Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a big deal, and it can seem overwhelming. After all, chances are you aren’t a real estate mogul who knows the ins and outs of the selling process. If you’re getting ready to sell your house, you may feel like you’re doomed to make some big-time mistakes along the way.

We’ve got some good news: You aren’t! You can totally do this and knock the whole thing out of the park. But a lot of people do make mistakes when they sell their house, and you need to be aware of the biggest ones if you want to avoid them.

So, let’s take a look at the 10 biggest mistakes home sellers make—that way, you’ll be completely prepared.

The 10 Biggest Home-Selling Mistakes

  1. Not Expecting Home-Selling Costs
  2. Selling Without an Agent
  3. Hiring an Inexperienced Agent
  4. Pricing It Wrong
  5. Hiding Major Repairs
  6. Moving to a Home You Can’t Afford
  7. Skimping on Staging
  8. Using Bad Listing Photos
  9. Taking a Low Offer Personally
  10. Limiting Showings

Mistake 1: Not Expecting Home-Selling Costs

Even though you’re the one selling a house and someone else is buying it, there are still several costs involved beyond paying for your next home. Now, assuming you have some equity in your home (that’s your home’s current value minus what you owe on your mortgage—aka the part of your home that you actually own), most of those costs will be covered by the money you make from the sale.

But you do need to be aware of the most common home-selling costs so nothing catches you by surprise. Here’s a list:

  • Agent commissions: Typically, sellers cover the commissions for their listing agent and the buyer’s agent. You’ll probably pay around 6% of your home price to cover agent commissions. So, if your home sells for $200,000, around $12,000 of that will go to the agents who helped you seal the deal. 
  • Closing costs: Sellers usually pay 1–3% of the home price in closing costs.1 These costs could include taxes, a title transfer fee, attorney fees and a fee for whoever organizes the final transaction on closing day—like a title company or a lawyer. 
  • Staging costs: The cost to stage a home varies widely based on factors like where you live, the size of your home, how many rooms you want to stage, whether you’ll be renting decor, and what the staging company charges. On average, home staging costs about $400 if your agent handles it, and $600 if you hire a service.2 You also may want to give some rooms a fresh coat of paint and touch up your home’s landscaping.
  • Home inspection: You should get a home inspection before you list your house. You might not necessarily fix any problems that pop up, but you at least want to know about them ahead of time so you can be transparent with buyers and avoid having an unfortunate surprises down the road. If you decide to make repairs, you’ll need to budget for those too.
  • Seller concessions: This is when a seller sweetens the deal by offering buyers some icing on the cake—such as throwing in your washer and dryer or paying some (or all) of the buyer’s closing costs. Depending on your housing market, this could be a good idea. 
  • Moving expenses: The average cost to move will depend on a lot of factors, like how far you’re going and whether you recruit the help of your friends or hire a moving company. Moving companies cost around $1,700 on average, so be careful—costs can add up fast.3

When you add up these expenses, the total can seem overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it. But don’t worry! A good real estate agent knows how to best arrange your home sale with these costs in mind.

With the right agent, taking on the housing market can be easy.

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Mistake 2: Selling Without an Agent

This is a big one. Not using a real estate agent and going the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) route is a massive home-selling mistake.

Find expert agents to help you sell your home.

Trying to sell a home yourself is a major headache—you could wind up skipping important steps, struggling with complicated paperwork, and missing the chance to make a whole lot more money.

In fact, 2023data shows the typical FSBO home sold for $310,000 compared to more than $405,000 when sold by an agent.4 That’s almost a $100,000 difference! And that more than covers the cost of a 3% seller’s agent commission, which would only be $12,150 on a $405,000 sale.

So, save yourself from the hassle of handling everything on your own and hire an agent, especially since you’ll have to pay the buyer’s agent’s 3% commission either way. But you don’t just want to hire any agent—you want to work with a really good one. That brings us to our next mistake.

Mistake 3: Hiring an Inexperienced Agent

Helping out a friend or family member by letting them sell your house might seem like a nice thing to do, but it’s a mistake to put your biggest asset in the hands of an amateur. You need a seasoned pro with several years of full-time experience who’s an expert in your local market—not your third cousin twice removed who just got his license so he can start a side hustle.

Wondering how to find an agent like that? We’ve got you! Our local RamseyTrusted agents have multiple years of full-time experience and close the most deals in their local market. They’ll serve you with excellence and help you avoid all the mistakes on this list.

Connect with a RamseyTrusted agent in your area.

Mistake 4: Pricing It Wrong

Pricing a home can be tricky! If you price it too low, you could miss out on thousands of dollars in profit. Price it too high, and you could turn away serious buyers or run the risk of wasting weeks or months before you have to reduce the price to get an offer.

Don’t trust the internet or your emotions. Ask your agent for a comparative market analysis that shows you how much homes like yours are selling for in your area. Setting the right price from the start can make all the difference in how quickly you sell your home and how much money ends up in your pocket at the closing table.

Mistake 5: Hiding Major Repairs

Folks, there is no reason to be dishonest and hide things when you list your house. Not only is it a low-character, zero-integrity move, but buyers are also going to find out. If you think they won’t wind up noticing that roof leak or bug problem, think again. Your buyer will likely get a home inspection after you accept their offer, and any problems you’ve hidden from them will pop up.

Just be honest on the front end and save everyone (including you) the time and headache.

Mistake 6: Moving to a Home You Can’t Afford

When you’re moving, you need to make sure your new home is one you can afford—even if you’re upsizing. What does that look like? First, you should be able to make a down payment of at least 20%. Second, your monthly payment (including taxes, homeowners insurance and HOA fees) on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay.

If you’re not in a financial position to afford a new home, stay at your current address and work hard to build more equity before you sell.

If you’re not in a financial position to afford a new home, stay at your current address and work hard to build more equity before you sell.

Mistake 7: Skimping on Staging

Staging a home may not sound like a big deal, but skimping on this step is a huge home-selling mistake. Why? Because staging your home can make it sell faster and for more money—like, we’re talking up to 5%.5

So, don’t show an empty, cluttered or poorly lit house to potential buyers. Instead, keep your furniture in place (and arrange it nicely), clear the clutter, and make sure every room is well lit. If you don’t have any furniture to show off, rent some from a staging company to give buyers an idea of what it’d be like if it became their home.

And while you’re at it, slap a fresh coat of paint on rooms that might need it. Yes, your daughter wanted a purple bedroom, but a buyer might not be a big fan of pastels. Paying to have some painting done—or getting your hands dirty and doing it yourself—is a small investment that could translate into thousands of extra dollars on the sale price.

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Mistake 8: Using Bad Listing Photos

These days, buyers typically start by checking out homes online. So if your listing photos look like grandma took them with her flip phone, you’ll lose buyer interest before they ever pull up to the curb. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced pro who knows how to make your home shine on camera. You’d be amazed at the difference the correct lighting and a wide-angle lens can make!

Mistake 9: Taking a Low Offer Personally

Remember, a buyer’s offer is not a reflection of their opinion of your home or your housekeeping abilities. Hey, they like your home or they wouldn’t make an offer, right? The sale of your home is strictly a business transaction.

If they start out with a low offer, don’t take it personally and get emotional. Instead, channel that energy toward negotiating. Work with your agent and make a counteroffer. If they’re truly interested, the potential buyer will improve their offer.

Mistake 10: Limiting Showings

Hey, we know getting your home ready for a last-minute showing and finding a place to go while your house is being shown is a major pain (especially if you have kids). But if you limit showings to weekends or specific times during the week, you could be missing out on potential buyers.

That’s why it’s crucial to be flexible, even when you get a super inconvenient showing request—like for the middle of your toddler’s typical nap time. Remember: This isn’t going to last forever.

And when you do show your house, let your agent handle it and get out of the way. Sticking around for showings does nothing but make everyone feel awkward.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are several home-selling mistakes you can fall into—and some of them can be pretty costly. But now that you know all about the biggest mistakes out there, you’ll be able to run in the opposite direction and avoid them. That’s a recipe for success right there!


Next Steps

1. Avoid these mistakes when you sell your home!

2. If you’re ready to sell, connect with a top-notch RamseyTrusted real estate pro in your local area.

Find an Agent

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Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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