These Home Selling Mistakes Will Cost You

Being a realtor, I easily find myself walking through dozens of homes every week. What I’ve found is that many sellers don’t do the “little things” when selling their home that could easily add up to thousands of extra dollars in their pockets.

What little things you might ask?

Deteriorating Tiles

Crown Molding Gaps

Cracks in Walls and Gaps in Molding

Dirty Seepage

Dirty Seepage

Outdated Kitchen

Outdated Kitchen

These are pictures that I’ve compiled over the last few weeks alone of little details that weren’t taken care of prior to putting these homes up for sale. I’ve found myself taking clients through homes with these issues, and the most common question that comes up is

“What else is wrong with this house, what else did they not maintain in this home?”

Right when that buyer walks into that home, they are creating an impression and seeing if they could picture themselves living in that home.  They might love the layout of the home, and may love the location, but when they look closer at the home, the questions start to come up. Most buyers looking to move want a home that is move-in ready, they want a home they feel they can move into and create great new memories in, not think about all the things that they will need to fix before they move in and all the things that will go wrong while they are there. (For all fairness, the last picture of the outdated kitchen was in a home that was most likely going to be a teardown, but it’s not far from some kitchens I’ve seen that weren’t going to be teardowns)

Helping buyers and sellers on Chicago’s NorthShore, I’ve been through homes in cities such as Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Northfield, Highland Park, Glencoe, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Golf, Morton Grove, and Northbrook. Many of these cities have homes that will easily cross the $1 Million mark and the most expensive of these cities will have entry-level homes at that price point and move up in price very quickly from there.

Now consider from a buyer’s perspective, when they are about to spend their hard-earned dollars to purchase a home in that price point, how much work do they really want to spend fixing that home prior to moving in? You could easily price your home lower and hope that buyers come through and feel they are getting a deal, but then you’re throwing away tens of thousands of dollars.

On the flip side, what does it cost to have a painter and a handyman come through just before you sell your home to fix the “little things”, do paint touch-ups, or freshen up your home with a new coat of neutral paint? Possibly cover up that burnt orange color paint in your dining room you thought looked “nice” when you last painted the home 10 years ago?

One thing you should be asking your realtor or agent when listing your home is, what can I do to make my home more marketable and get more money for it. Many clients wonder why they would or should do work and upgrades before they sell their home?  If they haven’t done it while they lived there and won’t be able to enjoy the upgrades, why do it now? My response in most cases is, put yourself in a buyer’s shoes, what will they be looking for. What will you as a buyer be looking for when you are buying your next home? Will you want the home with the kitchen that needs new cabinets, countertops, and appliances or the gourmet kitchen with granite and under cabinet lighting? Will you be able to appreciate all a home has to offer if the walls are lime green and fluorescent orange? Can you see past it? Neutral colors have a greater chance of pleasing the largest amount of people, they provide a clean palette on which buyers could picture their own colors. Many buyers find it difficult to image what a home can look like with a little work, or what that might actually cost.

Which would you prefer:

Outdated Kitchen

Outdated Kitchen


New Kitchen

In the end, many borrowers find it easier to move into a home that is move-in ready. The extra cost doesn’t look like much to a buyer when it comes to a monthly payment that will be spread over 15 or 30 years.  What may cost a couple hundred dollars to fix, may easily add thousands to your bottom line.

So when you’re selling your home? Take the time to make it look good and reap the reward of extra money in your pocket. You and your buyers will appreciate it.


One thought on “These Home Selling Mistakes Will Cost You

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your points here. It always amazes me when I walk into a house and see easy fixes that were just ignored. The money that the seller is losing on some of those items really makes you wonder who their agent is, and why they didn’t push them to make the repairs…

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