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Top 10 mistakes when selling your house

Most people only ever move house once or twice in their lives. It’s a massive commitment both mentally and financially so how can you avoid the pitfalls of selling before that ‘For Sale’ sign even goes up?

Here are the top 10 mistakes people make when selling their house:

1. Asking too much

Becoming fixated on a certain value that you think your home is worth can put a death sentence on any potential sale. According to, 70 per cent of interest in a house comes in the first three weeks of putting it on the market. If the price is too high, your property will appear expensive and people will be instantly put off.  In contrast, if your property appears to be really good value, then you will attract lots of attention and viewings. The right price will drive competition and create a buzz about your place, which in turn will push up any offers to the absolute market value.

2. Not ready to sell

There are many reasons why ‘NOW’ might not be the right time to sell. Have you given yourself time to declutter, tidy and stage your home both externally and internally? Is a move in the next 3-6 months something you want and can achieve? Can you afford the costs of selling? Aside from the estate agent’s commission, you will need to factor in minor repair costs, moving expenses, solicitor’s fees and Energy Performance Certificates. Have a look at our Moving calculator to see how much it could cost you to move home.

Top 10 mistakes when selling your home
Top 10 mistakes when selling your home

3. Choosing the wrong estate agent

There is nothing worse than being tied into a contract with an estate agent when viewings fall flat or after that initial flurry of excitement, you still haven’t had one single offer. Picking the right estate agent doesn’t always mean going for the one who gives you the highest valuation or the cheapest commission rate. Do your research and find out who people are using in the area. How quickly do they sell homes on their books? What’s their track record on achieving the asking price? How many people in their office would be able to talk enthusiastically and with knowledge about your property? Before you choose, make sure you get all the facts and if you get a valuation, ask the estate agent to explain their reasoning. And check when they are going on holiday!

4. Overdeveloping your home

From a purely financial perspective, is it better to have the worst house on the best street, or the best house on a bad street? Over developing a house for a high resale value can be dangerous. If you extend or refurbish too much and the value of your home far exceeds that of neighbouring properties, you may be at risk of not recouping your investment on the sale.

5. Not accepting early offers

Every offer should be considered on its individual merits. Just because it’s the first one, doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. As a seller, you need to make sure you are aware of the buyer’s position, financial situation and most importantly motivation. Many buyers will call an estate agent within one hour of walking out of a viewing to ‘lock down’ any other offers. Or they might be first in with an offer because they have been waiting months for the right house to come on the market and are therefore highly motivated to move. Get all the facts so you can make an informed decision to move forward.

6. Ignoring maintenance

Any minor DIY jobs or repairs that need doing are key to making a first good impression. If a garden looks messy and uncared for, does that mean the inside is equally unmaintained?  Make sure you present your house in tiptop condition so that buyers aren’t left with that sinking feeling of what else could be wrong.

7. Not tidying up

Clutter can be a major turn off. We’re all guilty of it, but if you have windowsills crammed full of personal mementos or boxes stacked up in the hallway, it can detract the buyer from seeing the house to its full potential.

8. Showing buyers round yourself

Surely the best person to show potential buyers round the house is the person that’s lived there? Right? Wrong. As tempting as it is to wax lyrical about the joys of your home, sellers can often be too emotionally attached to pointing out all the finer details of their beloved home. Whether you feel it’s out of politeness or courtesy, following the buyer into every room isn’t going to help. It’s important to give buyers space to look around the property in their own time.

9. Saying ‘no’ to viewings

Keeping your house pristine for viewings can be a hard slog, especially if you are also living with small kids, pets or the buyers have asked for a viewing at a really inconvenient time  - usually at meal times!  However, viewings, at whatever time, are a great opportunity to sell.  Prepare well in advance so you know where to store things at short notice (think of your car boot as an extra hiding place), or try to encourage block viewings to minimise disruption.

10. Taking the “I’m in a no rush” approach

While you might be happy to wait for that big offer to land on your mat, if you keep your property on the market for too long, it can start to give the impression it’s a tough sale and will put people off. The best time to sell is within the first three weeks, while the house will feel fresh and new. Leave it on for too long and it could become Groundhog Day fodder in the property listings.