13 Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home

13 Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home

Below, we’ll look at some costly mistakes to avoid when selling your home in Florida.

Selling a home can be an emotionally exhausting and, sometimes expensive, process. While you’re sure to hit some road bumps, you can do a lot to avoid costly mistakes when selling your home.

Buying a home? Check out 10 home-buying mistakes to avoid!

1. Trying to Sell Your Home On Your Own

Selling your home without a realtor might sound like a good idea. After all, you won’t owe as much in realtor fees—typically just 2% to 3% for the buyer’s realtor. Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits end.

Selling home is a lot of work and takes a lot of experience if you want to get top dollar.  Understanding how to price the home, knowing which photographers take the best photos, creating compelling advertisements, hosting successful open houses, and expertly negotiating with prospective buyers all require time and experience.

If you’re not prepared, you could end up making a number of costly mistakes when selling your home, including the remaining items on this list. Not to mention that for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) homes sell for far less money. In 2021, a typical FSBO home sold for a median price of $225,000. Agent-assisted homes sold for a median price of $345,000. That’s a whopping 42% difference in the sales price!

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

2. Hiring an Inexperienced Realtor

A good realtor makes all the difference. Inexperienced realtors—those with less than two or three years of experience—won’t have the same connections, local market knowledge, or marketing expertise as a more seasoned realtor.

If you’ve already signed a listing agreement with an inexperienced realtor, don’t worry just yet. Depending on what the contract says, you might still be able to change realtors.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Interview realtors before choosing one
  • Look for listing agents with at least two to three years of experience
  • Read a realtor’s online reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and Zillow
  • Ask family and friends for recommendations
  • Read about What to Look for in a Realtor

3. Overpricing Your Home

Getting top dollar for your home can be hard. And it all starts with the pricing. Overpricing your home might feel like a smart move, but instead, it leads to a lower sales price. When you price your home over market value, fewer buyers will show interest in your home. When you slightly underprice, more buyers will show interest.

When more buyers show interest, the likelihood of a higher sales price increases. You also won’t have to worry about your home sitting on the market for weeks on end with no offers.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Hire a competent realtor who understands the local market and can create an accurate comparative market analysis
  • Set your emotions aside
  • Read about How to Price Your Home for Sale

4. Underestimating Home Selling Costs

Selling your home isn’t free. From paying your realtor’s commission to getting your home ready to sell, you can expect to spend several thousand dollars.

According to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report in 2019, some common costs that home sellers incur include:

Home Selling Costs How Much? Description
Real estate agent commission 6% of the sales price Split 50-50 between the seller’s realtor and the buyer’s realtor
Other closing costs 2% to 4% of the sales price Covers property taxes, transfer taxes, attorney fees, title insurance, escrow fees, HOA transfers, etc.
Pre-inspection $250 to $700 An optional inspection that will inform you of major problems with your home before you put it on the market
Professional photos $300-$500 Many full-service listing agents cover this cost
Home Improvement Carpet cleaning: $174

Exterior painting: $2,932

Interior painting: $1,423

Needed repairs to get your home ready for showings
Landscaped yard $3,782 Professional mowing, lighting the walkway, adding plants, raking leaves, planting trees, installing sprinkler systems, etc.
Moving expenses $200 to $1,200+ Temporary housing, utilities while the home is open for showing (even if you moved out), hiring movers, renting moving trucks, etc.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Factor selling costs into your home’s sale price
  • Save up money prior to putting your home on the market
  • Create a home-selling budget

5. Selling at the Wrong Time

Did you know that homes tend to sell for more during different times of the year? It’s true! In Florida, your best bet is selling your home in April, May, or June. In 2021, homes sold during those months sold faster and for more money than homes sold during other times of the year. In fact, homes listed in May (the best month to sell in Florida in 2021) sold for $74,639 more than homes sold in December (the worst month to sell in Florida in 2021).

How to Avoid the Mistake

  • Try to time your home sale for mid-to-late Spring or early summer
  • Avoid selling your home in November, December, and January. Florida homes sold during these times had a lower average sale price and took longer to sell.

6. Forgetting About Capital Gains Taxes

Capital gains taxes are a fee you owe based on your profits from selling real estate, stocks, or bonds. In real estate, capital gains are the difference between how much you sold the home for and how much you originally paid for the home.

Florida doesn’t charge capital gains tax, but the U.S. does. If you forget to factor capital gains taxes into the equation when you’re deciding when to put your home on the market, you could end up with a hefty tax bill.

Fortunately, if you meet certain conditions, you can exclude the first $250,000 of gain from the sale from your income. Married couples filing jointly can exclude the first $500,000. To qualify, you’ll need to have lived in the home as your primary residence for at least two of the past five years.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Wait until you’ve lived in the home as your primary residence for at least 2 years
  • Keep proof of home improvement receipts to reduce your capital gains
  • Research real estate regulations in your state to see if you qualify for any tax breaks
  • Factor capital gains into your budget to avoid surprises
  • Read IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home

7. Not Cleaning Up Your Home

Not everyone can clear out of their home entirely before putting it up for sale. That’s okay. However, you still need to take time to declutter and clean before opening your home for showings. Cleaning up your home can give appraisers and potential buyers a better impression of your home.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Set time aside to clean your home BEFORE listing it
  • Create an ongoing system to handle clutter (especially if you have kids living in the home)
  • Follow this checklist from Realtor Magazine before home showings

8. Not Making Your House Available for Showings

Showings bring prospective buyers into your home. And if you want to sell your home, you’ll likely need to show it 10 to 25 times. If buyers have trouble scheduling viewings, they might give up on your home before setting foot inside. This will only cause your home to spend more days on the market, which can make selling your home for top dollar more difficult. Don’t make this costly mistake when selling your home.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Be flexible with viewing times
  • Plan where you (plus your family and pets) will go during scheduled showings

9. Letting Your Home Spend Too Many Days on the Market

When homes sit on the market for a while, buyers grow concerned. They may think that the home looks far worse in person than in the listing photos, making it not worth their time. Concern grows even higher if your home is pending and then goes back on the market. Buyers might wonder if the inspection revealed something truly terrible with the home.

Get a feel for how long is too long for a home to sit on the market by checking the realtor.com residential listings database for the most updated statistics. Median Days on the Market vary from month to month in Florida. In February 2022, the median DOM in Florida was 65.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Hire an experienced realtor
  • Consider a new home-selling strategy
  • Re-evaluate the sales price

10. Not Disclosing Everything About the Home

Home sellers in Florida MUST disclose facts and conditions about the property that impact its value or desirability that others (like potential buyers) can’t see for themselves. For example, whether the property has suffered flood damage. Failure to disclose what’s required opens you up to liability and puts you at risk of a lawsuit.

Plus, most buyers hire a home inspector during the inspection period, so they’ll find out what’s wrong with the home anyway. A buyer who feels that you withheld information on the seller’s disclosure may end up walking away from the deal.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

11. Bad Listing Photos

Prospective home buyers value online listings. Homes with high-quality photographs in their online listing sell 32 percent faster than other homes. Photos taken on your smartphone or by your realtor won’t cut it. There’s a reason photographers specialize in taking real estate photos—it requires skill to capture your home in a way that’s captivating online.

Photos aren’t the only thing you should think about, though. The Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report 2022 found that 68% of prospective buyers generally agree that “3D tours would help me get a better feel for the space than static photos.”

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Hire a professional listing photographer (your realtor should cover the cost and know a great photographer)
  • Consider purchasing a 3D tour, especially if you live somewhere people like to vacation
  • Include the floorplan in the online listing

12. Ignoring Lowball Offers

Don’t ignore lowball offers. After all, a low offer is still an offer. You can think of it as a starting point for future negotiations. You never know how high a buyer is willing to go, so there’s no harm in making a counteroffer.

Lowball offers can also offer some insight into the real estate market and the value of your home. If you’re seeing lowball offer after lowball offer, there’s a good chance you’ve priced your home too high and need to reassess.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Keep your emotions in check when reviewing offers
  • Respond to every offer
  • Determine if it’s actually a lowball offer (maybe your listing price is too high)
  • Work with your realtor to make a counteroffer

13. Getting Emotional

According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. homeowners stay in their homes for a median of 13 years. That’s 13 years’ worth of memories in what’s likely your largest investment. It’s understandable that you’ll get emotional as you think about leaving your home behind and in someone else’s care. You’ll want prospective buyers to see your home’s value just as you do.

Unfortunately, letting your emotions get the best of you could end up costing you in the long run. From feeling offended by lowball offers to not wanting to repaint the colorful DIY walls in your kids’ bedrooms, emotions can get in the way of a successful home sale.

How to Avoid the Costly Mistake

  • Keep your emotions in check
  • Go into the process knowing that the inspection will likely reveal a few issues
  • Accept that not all of the projects you’ve done in your home actually added value to the home
  • Work with a realtor who can help guide your decision-making
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