Everyone has a few flaws. But if you plan to sell your home in 2017, these foibles can literally cost you—we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. What’s more, many homeowners may not even be aware that certain actions can hurt their odds of selling their home (that is, until it sits on the market with no takers).
To help clue you in, here’s a list of regrettable blunders to kick to the curb starting now, even if you plan to put your home on the market later this year.
Vice No. 1: Overimproving your home
Dying to install new kitchen cabinets or retile your master bath? Home sellers often assume any upgrades they make to their home will pay them back in full once they sell, but that’s rarely the case. On average you will recoup just about 64% of the money you spend on renovations once you sell—and certain improvements can actually work against you if they’re unusual or undesirable in your market, warns Jason Shepherd, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group.
For instance, as much as you may be dying for a bidet in your bathroom, many others may not. Likewise, even if you consider a new swimming pool a plus, many homeowners don’t want the hassle of maintaining it (or the dangers if they have young kids).
Do this instead: Check out a Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report to see which upgrades provide the best return—and ask a Realtor® for advice on which amenities are hot (or not) in your area
Vice No. 2: Renovating without permits
We know it’s a pain to apply for permits before you knock down that wall or add a deck, but this corner-cutting will come back and bite you when you decide to sell. Without proper permits, buyers may worry whether the work done on your place is up to code—and as a result refrain from making an offer.
Do this instead: Don’t be a scofflaw; pull necessary permits. Usually, building permits are required for any renovation that involves opening/building walls, electrical, and plumbing changes.
Vice No. 3: Limiting showing hours
Sure, no one wants to leave their home at dinnertime. But buyers are busy juggling work, family, and looking for a new home. If you limit showings to a few hours on weekends, you might miss a potential sale.
Do this instead: Stay flexible and cooperate with buyer’s agents who want to show your house, even if it’s inconvenient.
“Sellers need to make their home available for viewings 24/7,” says Karin Jackson of William Raveis Real Estate in Newport, RI. “Limiting showing times gives buyers the impression that the sellers are going to be difficult.”
Vice No. 4. Overlooking curb appeal
Make a good first impression on potential buyers.
Even if you lavish tons of attention on prepping the inside of your home for buyers, it’s easy to overlook the outside. But keep in mind, your curb appeal is the very first impression buyers have of your home, so it pays to put some elbow grease into prettying up the exterior, too.
Do this instead: Make sure your paint job is pristine and your lawn is tidy and mowed. Also replace dead shrubs, prune trees, put out some potted plants, mulch garden beds, and freshen mailboxes.
Vice No. 5: Relying heavily on open houses
Open houses were a great way to sell a house in, like, 1975. These days, the vast majority of houses are sold through the internet, says Matt Parker of Seattle, author of “The Real Estate Sales Secrets: What Top Real Estate Listing Agents Do Today to Sell Tomorrow.”
In fact, Parker says, open houses can be risky, giving strangers the opportunity to case your home and break things.
Do this instead: While you can certainly hold open houses, don’t depend on them too much. Look for agents who mine for buyers by using the internet and social media.
Vice No. 6: Not following your agent’s advice
Sure, you no doubt know more about your home than anyone else. But your real estate agent knows more about how to sell it. And your agent may make some suggestions you might not like to hear, like that you need a new paint job or that the asking price you had in mind needs to be lowered a bit. It’s tempting to take offense or just ignore this advice, but if you do, you could risk seeing your house sit on the market and grow stale.
Do this instead: Listen to your agent. That doesn’t mean blindly following all advice. But when it comes to pricing, consider the comps your agent presents, not your gut feeling or wishful thinking. Agents buy and sell hundreds of houses in their career; you’ll probably buy and sell a handful in your lifetime. You’re paying for their experience, so follow their advice.
Want more advice on selling your home? Here are a bunch of home-selling vows to make and take seriously, starting now.