4 Mistakes to Avoid When Listing Your Home, According to Recent Home Sellers

A new report reveals the biggest regrets recent home sellers feel over their home sales: Here’s how you can learn from their mistakes.

If you’re considering selling your home in 2023, there are a few things recent sellers think you should consider. A new survey from home search site Zillow found that 84% of Americans who sold a home for the first time in the past two years—recent first-time home sellers, in other words—have regrets about the timing and pricing of their homes and how they prepared their home before selling. Read on for their greatest regrets, so you can (hopefully) make a better sale yourself this year.

small monochromatic home brick siding weathered wood
Edward Everett (Rett) Peek Jr
White wooden house garage yellow door
Rett Peek

Regret #1: Pricing

The most common thing that 39% of first-time sellers wish they had done differently is to set a different asking price. This is a tricky challenge, because setting the price too low could mean missing out on a higher return on your initial investment in your home, and setting it too high could turn off prospective buyers and lead to a slower sale, particularly if you are forced to drop the price.

The median time for a home to be listed on the market is now 73 days nationwide, according to Zillow, but well-priced homes can go under contract in as quickly as 31 days.

“This spring’s sellers are more likely to regret pricing their home too high,” said Zillow senior economist Nicole Bachaud in the report. “The price their neighbor commanded a year ago may no longer be realistic. They need to adjust their expectations if they want to avoid having their home linger on the market. It’s more important than ever for sellers to rely on the advice of a great local agent who understands their neighborhood and has a winning pricing strategy.”

gray house overhanging front porch with red door
Robert Brinson

Regret #2: Ignoring Online Curb Appeal

Today’s home market is digital ,and nine out of 10 recent sellers felt they could have fared better if they had remembered that most prospective buyers shop for a new home online, Zillow’s survey found. One way to boost online curb appeal is through imagery: Excellent high-resolution images and drone photography can help, but buyers are also looking for an immersive experience through virtual home tours and interactive floor plans.

Another thing to consider is what buyers are looking for. Before you take pictures, try to look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer. Remove clutter so buyers can focus on your home, not your stuff, and highlight “wow factor” areas like windows, fireplaces, and outdoor living spaces. Be sure to include any recent improvements you have made or popular key features in the description of your home.

white home exterior
Kim Cornelison Photography Inc.

Regret #3: Bad Timing

With a fluctuating market, it’s hard to know when the best time is to list your home, but 25% of recent home sellers said they wish they had chosen a different time to list. According to Zillow, April is the best time to put your home on the market. As the weather warms up and buyers begin to plan spring projects and home renovations, many of them start to dream about finding new digs. Spring is also a great time to catch the attention of home buyers with children who are looking to complete the sale and relocate before the beginning of a new school year.   

If you want to get very specific, the best time to list your home is on a Thursday in late April. Why? Zillow’s analysis showed that homes listed on a Thursday in late April sold faster on average and were more likely to fetch a price above asking than any other day of the week or time of year. This is likely because as the weekend approaches, buyers are planning weekend home tours and want to be the first to jump on new prospects.

front yard gray door
Jason Donnelly

Regret #4: Skimping on Repairs

If you plan to get your home ready for the spring selling market, now is the time to tackle those repair projects you have been putting off. More than 25% of recent sellers say they could have gotten a higher sales price if they had done more work on their home before listing, but it’s important to prioritize what to do and what to skip.

“The right projects can pay off,” said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert, in the report. “Sellers need to think strategically about their return on investment before diving into repairs and renovations. Landscaping, interior painting, and carpet cleaning are the most commonly completed seller projects for good reason. They boost online curb appeal and send a powerful signal to a buyer that a home is well-maintained.”

Before you begin any home improvement project, it’s best to speak with an expert (like a realtor or appraiser) about what improvements will make the biggest difference. Ultimately, all real estate trends are specific to local tastes, trends, and necessities, so a local expert will be your best bet in deciding how to best showcase and prepare your home.

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