4 Don’ts When Selling a Home

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine

Kelly O’Ryan, an office manager for Coldwell Banker in Lexington, Mass., recently highlighted several tips of what home owners shouldn’t do when trying to sell their home in an article at RISMedia. Here are a few don’ts that made it on their list, see if you agree!

1. Don’t slack off on home maintenance. Houses in need of TLC often attract investors or property flippers, which are known for submitting low-ball offers. To attract offers and the highest bids, sellers should attend to any upkeep and maintenance issues before putting the house for sale.

2. Make sure the home isn’t being overshadowed outside. Nothing kills curb appeal more than a home you’re selling that you can’t even see. Be sure to trim trees or bushes to ensure they aren’t blocking any windows or the exterior of the home.

3. Remove wallpaper. Wallpaper and borders can be a nuisance to remove so you might want to take these personal decor touches down before you list the home. Neutralize the homes in subtle colors that will appeal to the most buyers and allow buyers to better visualize their personal decor moving in.

4. Don’t keep an empty home empty. Buyers can struggle in picturing themselves moving in if a home is left empty. Vacant homes can feel cold and rooms can look smaller than they really are. That’s why O’Ryan reminds us why builders spend thousands of dollars staging model homes. If your listing is vacant, consider staging it to bring in furniture and accessories to help define the various rooms functions.

See more of O’Ryan’s tips at RISMedia.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to share the above ideas.

  2. Also, keep in mind everyone doesn’t like beige. The last couple of homes I remodeled and sold have had some color or I used a nice gray. Gray is a very neutral color and soothing to the eye. It shows up well on photos and I leave color swatches around the house and people will see that anything that matched beige looks even better with gray.

    It depends on your market area, but I sold them because all the other homes were beige or white and mine always stood out. This works regardless if the property is suburban or urban because your property will stand out.

  3. Sara

    Please share your gray paint color–brand/shade. I am afraid of gray because I’m afraid it will look dirty.

  4. Marc Minkin


    Watch a few HGTV home shows. You will see a number of them now using gray. I agree with haus and I’d keep it light, but I’ve seen accents of darker shades that really make the house stand out. If you aren’t comfortable picking colors(I’m color blind) hire a stager (my wife picks our paint colors). I don’t think you can consistently use just one shade. Sometimes its going to depend on furnishings, flooring, appliances, counters or cabinets.
    Good luck,

  5. This is exactly why our first home has all our furniture and we eat off a card table! If you own two homes, don’t leave your first vacant. It just invites lowballs!

  6. Bonnie

    As a realtor – use the senses to attract. Sight- clean, neat, inviting. Sounds – soft music such as David Lanz, piano. Smells – nothing overpowering – open the windows and let the fresh air in and get the pet odor out!

    Also pull back curtains, clean windows to let the light shine in….

  7. Constance Zaidain

    I always stage a listing that’s vacant. . .clients want to come in and have the property feel like a home. I always do a walk through with my clients and make suggestions and recommendations. . .You are doing your clients a disservice if you don’t. Curb appeal, staging, fresh and inviting paint colors and cleanliness can really affect the client getting market value for their home. . .

  8. Keith

    Be aware that when you remove the wallpaper you may need to do repairs to the sheetrock or even texture the walls to match the rest of your non wallpapered walls. It’s a good suggestion but it can get expensive to texture plus the mess. Otherwise you will have flat walls that may look out of place next to a textured one.

  9. Wall paper isn’t only a nuisance to remove but it can also make the property look outdated. Sometimes wall paper can be painted, but when it can’t, remove it!

  10. Regarding the VACANT HOUSE:
    1. A vacant house is like a vacant stare. Buying a house is an emotional experience and emotion influences what people buy and how much they will pay. Vacant houses are devoid of life, and the chance to make an emotional connection is lost.
    2. Vacancy distracts buyers from looking at the house itself. They wonder: “Is this a divorce? Why did they move out? Are they selling because they have money problems? Is this home hard to sell?” They’ll make a low-ball offer, thinking the owner is desperate.
    3. When a house is vacant, buyers focus on flaws. They look at nail holes, carpet wear and gaps in the molding rather than how the space works. In a vacant house, floors, walls and ceilings are all the buyers see. This drives the price down.
    4. People can’t visualize how furniture fits. An empty bedroom might appear awkward or a living room might seem cavernous. Some spaces might confuse buyers because a use is not obvious. Buyers are derailed and move on to the next house.
    5. Vacant houses don’t show as well as staged and occupied homes. Without people, even the best home quickly looks and smells vacant. Dust settles, leaves scatter, and stale smell spreads. These cues often shorten the showing time, leading to fewer sales.

  11. Great key points – especially #4 and NOT keeping a vacant house empty. Using a stager and leasing furniture for the key areas will provide an exceptional ROI (not to mention a faster sale!). The investment of a good stager and appropriate furnishings will pay for itself.

  12. @ Michelle…absolutely! Money well spent if the house sells quickly, and using a stager and leased furniture almost always will.

  13. I agree that staging a home is absolutely critical. Buyers walking in to a home with no furniture can have a really tough time visualizing how rooms will layout, which makes it harder for them to picture themselves living there. Great tips that I’ll definitely pass along.
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