Washington, DC

This column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Edgewood resident Jessica Evans. Email her questions at  [email protected].

5 Mistakes That are Costing Sellers Money in Today’s Market

  1. Not Preparing
  2. Overpricing
  3. Skipping Easy Upgrades
  4. Not Compensating for Negatives
  5. Selling Off Market

Prepare For the Worst, Hope For the Best

In today’s sellers market, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t really have to do much to prepare your home for sale, because there will be plenty of buyers. In reality, while buyer demand exceeds supply, there are no guarantees that your home is going to sell instantly or for the price that you want without proper preparation.

Your home may never be a 10/10 and that’s OK, but you should put some time and effort into making sure that it shows its best. The little things can add up and impact a buyers impression of your home, don’t skip on repairing anything not in normal working order, thorough cleaning, de-cluttering and de-personalizing and staging — these can all make a difference.


This time of year it is especially easy for sellers to look at similar homes in their neighborhood that have sold and think they can sell for more.

It’s true that prices have been going up, but a solid pricing strategy includes pricing at the market value, not above. It is important to be honest about property condition. If your kitchen is 10 years old, it does not have the same appeal to buyers as a newly renovated kitchen.

Similarly, a 1st floor location in a building is not going to sell for the same price as the 5th. It’s as important as ever to really analyze the differences between your home and the other homes that have sold recently, and price accordingly.

Overpricing can have dramatic effects on the end sales price, in as little as 14-21 days a buyers mindset is likely to shift to thinking that your home is overpriced (which it probably is if its under $1m and sits on the market for that long) and offers will reflect this. Pricing appropriately for the market value is the surest way to get the highest possible sales price.

Don’t Skip Easy Upgrades

It is particularly easy in a sellers market to get into a mindset of not wanting to spend any money preparing your home for sale because it feels unnecessary. It’s important to keep in mind the potential return on any money that you spend on upgrades, and know that the more appealing your home is to prospective buyers the more it will sell for.

A few examples of easy upgrades include: switching out dated light fixtures, replacing carpet (with new carpet or even better a different type of floor), painting, replacing door or cabinet hardware and resurfacing outdated bath tub or tile.

Compensate for Negatives

Try to think in advance what objections buyers might have of your home and see if there are any solutions that might help, sometimes knowledge or information alone can make a difference.

  • Here are a few examples:
    • Have an outdated kitchen or bath? Get an estimate from a reputable contractor so a buyer can see what it would cost them to change it.
    • No parking? Research rental parking options nearby and provide information to prospective buyers.
    • Unsightly view or limited natural light? There isn’t much you can do to change this but adding additional lighting with natural style bulbs and nice window treatments will make a big difference.

Selling Off Market

This may be one of the more controversial recommendations but objectively there are very few good reasons for selling off market.

“Off market” typically refers to a sale in which the home is not entered into the MLS database and does not appear on 3rd party websites like Zillow, Redfin or Realtor.com.

If one buyer is willing to pay a certain price for your home, it’s pretty hard to conclude that there are not other buyers who might be willing to pay more, particularly if the home has been marketed to only a small number of buyers. There are many real estate agents who encourage their clients to sell off market, but it’s important to fully consider the pros and cons and how limited exposure can affect your end sales price.

Having your home on the market for any period of time isn’t fun, but is it worth tens of thousands of dollars? I think to most sellers it likely is. Timing can be another factor, but there are several strategies that are effective particularly in a sellers market for selling and buying at the same time without risking a substantial amount of money.

Without a doubt you know your home best, and you likely know your building or neighborhood inside and out, but it goes without saying that hiring the right expert for the job of selling your home is going to make you or cost you money.

The right expert should guide you through the process of preparing your home for sale, make recommendations on improvements or upgrades (including which ones to skip) based on their understanding of the target buyer for your home.

Homes don’t sell themselves for top dollar but with a little effort and the right team you can achieve this goal.

Thinking about selling and wondering about how to prepare? Send me your questions, I’d be happy to share my thoughts (with absolutely no strings attached) — [email protected].


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