3 Mistakes I Made When Selling a Home

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 14, 2021

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Couple holding sold real estate sign next to moving boxes.

Image source: Getty Images

Here are a few things I regret doing in the course of selling my house.

A little over 10 years ago, my husband and I decided that the time had come to move on from our starter home and try to find our forever home -- or the closest thing to it. We also saw that home values in our area were starting to fall, and we wanted to sell our home before that decline got more drastic.

Now one thing we did a good job of was vetting real estate agents. We were happy with the agent we chose to help us with that sale. But here are three mistakes I definitely regret.

1. Accepting our first good offer rather than waiting for more

My husband and I put our home up for sale and left town that weekend while our agent took over our open house. By the time the open house wrapped up, we had an offer for our listing price. Since I worked from home at the time, the idea of bringing in a series of people to look at my house seemed daunting and disruptive. And so rather than deal with that, we decided to take that first offer.

In hindsight, though, I think that may have been a mistake. Our home was barely on the market for a week before we accepted an offer, and had we entertained others, we may have gotten a little more money out of the deal. That, in turn, would've left us with a lower mortgage on our next house.

2. Not budgeting enough for necessary repairs

My husband and I spent some time fixing up our house before listing it. We repainted some rooms, had our carpets cleaned, and addressed some minor repair issues.

But one thing we didn't anticipate was having to make other repairs to get a certificate of occupancy, which is a requirement in many places to sell a home. Our town inspector came to check out our home and see if we qualified for that certificate of occupancy -- and we failed. The reason? A cracked sidewalk in front of our home.

At the time, I had no idea sidewalks were even our responsibility. One $1,500 bill later, we got approval to move forward with our sale, but that repair really caught us off guard.

3. Not having a home to purchase lined up

Perhaps the biggest mistake we made in the course of selling our home was doing so without having found a home to purchase. Now, we did write a clause into our real estate contract for a delayed closing for that reason, and thankfully, our buyers had no problem with it. But it did put the pressure on for us to find a home to buy quickly.

In the end, we wound up entering into a contract to buy a new construction home just weeks after selling our home. But had we not done that, we wouldn't have had anywhere to live for months. (Technically, we didn't have a permanent home for months because the move-in date for our new home was pushed from June to October, but that's a different story.)

We all make mistakes, but I'm sharing these so that home sellers can take steps to avoid them. Thankfully, I recovered from these blunders pretty easily. While we may not have scored the highest price for our home, we did get a good price -- and we managed to sell right before property values dropped significantly. We also had emergency savings to cover that sidewalk repair so we didn't have to go into debt for it, and we found an apartment to rent while we waited for our new home to be ready. But still, if I were to sell my current home, I'd make a point to do things differently the next time around.

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