For Sale by Owner Mistakes and Misconceptions

When it comes to selling your house, there is no shortage of information available. Home sellers and buyers are more informed than ever - or are they?

After working in real estate for 8 years, and having focused on For Sale by Owner sellers exclusively for the last 3 years, I have seen a notable rise in seller confidence, but also in real estate misconceptions.

That is to say - time and time again, a home seller will tell me with absolute certainty something I know to be wrong, and something that is hurting their chances of successfully selling a house.

In the next few posts, I would like to address some of the most significant and costly mistakes that For Sale by Owners make. These errors include pricing the property incorrectly and advertising inadequately. Property listings often fail to reach the right buyers, while their content falls short of scheduling showings.

In addition, sellers often fail to consider the percentage of buyers who are working with buyers agents when planning their marketing. Others will stubbornly refuse to spend even a dollar in marketing what likely amounts to the biggest investment of their lives, failing to recognize that even a small investment could result in a significantly higher selling price.

These mistakes are not always the fault of the For Sale by Owner seller. With so many sources of information to work with, it's no wonder that discrepancies would occur. There are many different interests operating in real estate, often with big money at stake, and statistics are presented from varying angles.

A crowd mentality, or conventional wisdom can influence one's better judgment, and all too often we learn that the majority is not always in the right. At times certain pieces of information are omitted in order to sell to the potential client. For example - how many Realtors do you know that mention the flat fee MLS option during their listing presentations?

Regardless of the reason, being aware of these common home selling mistakes will empower you to achieve greater success when selling your home. It is my hope that this guide will clear up some of the confusion, and help sellers to move through the process with the facts on their side.

The most common For Sale by Owner Mistakes are as follows:

  1. Failure to Plan and Strategize - Letting Conventional Wisdom Prevail
  2. Underpricing Without a Realtor - Doing All the Work but Breaking Even
  3. Overconfidence in the House's Charm (and Overpricing)
  4. Giving Up Too Soon - Hiring a Realtor Before Marketing Properly
  5. "My Friend is an Agent..." / "My Friend Says..."
  6. Under-Exposure: Listing on One or Two Sites, Expecting Everyone to See It
  7. No Marketing Budget
  8. Underestimating the Power / Market Share of Buyers Agents
  9. Offering a Commission via Craig's List to Agents Searching the MLS
  10. False Encouragement from Craig's List - Unqualified Buyers and Real Estate Sharks
  11. "Only a Realtor Can Get You on MLS, and I'm not Paying 5-6%!"
  12. "I Can Get on MLS All By Myself!"
  13. Listing With an Agent Because They Have Buyers
  14. Staging a Property Poorly (or Not Staging)

Flat Fee MLS Mistakes

  1. Paying Too Much for Flat Fee MLS
  2. Overemphasis on the Little Things vs. the Big Picture
  3. Choosing a Company with Low Service Standards

Listing-Specific Mistakes

  1. Too Many Photos = Reasons NOT to Visit!
  2. Listing Description - Redundant Property Specs vs. Emotional Sells
  3. Appearing Difficult to Work With
  4. ALL CAPS!?