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Seller slip-ups: 5 of the biggest mistakes home sellers make

Putting a home on the market is so much more than applying a fresh coat of paint and putting a “for sale” sign in the yard. Selling a house is, arguably, even more difficult than buying one. No matter how pristine your home is, how updated or how many times you share it on social media, you have to find just the right buyer, at just the right time, at just the right price. It’s a complex, delicate balance that, with the help of the right professional expertise, can save you time, money and immeasurable stress.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes I see sellers make.

Emotional equity, failure to neutralize
Your child took his first steps in the living room, your daughter’s wedding pictures were made on the back porch, your husband surprised you with a new car in the driveway one snowy Christmas morning—but all these emotional ties to the home are not seen by the buyer and do not increase the price point at which the property will sell. These memories mean the world to you, and I totally get that. I understand. I love hearing those stories from my sellers. But it’s a Realtor’s job to help you understand that as soon as the “for sale” sign goes in the yard, your home becomes a commodity that the marketplace will now begin to scrutinize. Refusing to acknowledge this, either by insisting your home is worth more because of things that appeal to you or refusing to make cosmetic changes to neutralize the property, will slow the sale of your property.

Overpricing for condition
Buyers, AKA the marketplace, expect homes to be reasonably well-maintained and in good repair, or the selling price will slide downhill. While buyers won’t necessarily pay more for your personal taste upgrades, they will pay for key updates well-executed. Updated kitchens and baths provide the highest rate of return. However, it’s important not to over- or underspend on the quality of materials used in your updates. You want to be right in line with other homes in your local area. When deciding the type and quality level of updates, it’s best to consult a professional Realtor to understand what the return on investment is in your specific neighborhood.

Not hiring talent
Chattanooga has a number of seasoned real estate agents who are able to wisely walk you through the detailed processes—from pricing to timeline, from marketing to inspections, from negotiating to closing. While it may be tempting to hire your best friend’s uncle or your college roommate’s brother, do your due diligence before hiring your agent. You are putting a lot on the line with them. How many homes have they sold in the past year? How long have they been in the business? What do their past clients say about them? A professional Realtor should provide to you in-depth market research to assist you with the accurate pricing of your property; they should have an aggressive marketing budget, assist you with staging, use a professional photographer, be efficient in coordinating showings, serve as your liaison and negotiator with buyers’ agents, and connect you with other professionals to help you get your home in good repair to sell. Hire talent and experience; it pays off every time.

Not decluttering
Box up, pack up and put away. It’s a wise investment in the speed and price at which your home will sell. Declutter—yes, the pictures, knickknacks, trophies, books and, chances are, some of the furniture should be boxed up and moved out. Items and clutter become distractions, and distractions create conversations that pull buyers’ concentration away from what you want them thinking about the most: seeing themselves living in your home! It’s not a matter of taste or what you as the seller thinks; it’s an attempt to have that buyer focused on all the attributes of your property, not the things in it.

Forgetting about a “runway”
If you’re considering selling in the next six months, the time to contact a Realtor is now. People who want to sell next month but haven’t yet contacted a professional are cutting it pretty close. Very few homes are market-ready; it is the astute and thoughtful owner that reaches out to a Realtor early and begins conversations around the “to do” list. Tweaking the landscape, removing some wallpaper, decluttering, painting the garage, pressure washing the deck—these all take time. Your agent will have insights and contacts that will serve you and the process well. Allow time enough to get the list done without causing a massive amount of stress for you and your family.


Avoiding these seller slip-ups can help you achieve your timeline and price point, getting you on the road toward your next exciting season of life.

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.