What Not To Do When Selling

What Not To Do When Selling

Sarah Lefebvre
Sarah Lefebvre
18/09/2020 | 5 MIN READ

There are a lot of articles about what to do when selling a property to help you maximise your sale price, in fact we have written a number of articles on this exact topic.  But we have never written a piece looking at what not to do when selling a property and there are some important learnings for sellers here too.  

Here are 8 things you should not do when selling a property.

1. Don’t set your price too high 

Putting an unrealistic price tag on your property will most likely mean it will not sell.  Buyers are savvy; they do their research; they know how much a property like yours in your neighbourhood should be selling for.  They talk to agents, go to auctions, download free suburb reports.  They immerse themselves in the local real estate market and understand the range of property prices they could expect to pay.  So, having an unrealistic price tag on your property will turn buyers off and, in many cases, will result in an unsuccessful sales campaign.  Of course, market factors can come into play here.  If your property is unique and highly sought after, a higher price tag may be warranted. Plus, if you are selling in a seller’s market, where demand is high, a premium price may well be achievable. 

What you should do  

Your agent is your best guide here so make sure you talk to them about the market value of your property.  If you are selling via private treaty / private sale, review the property appraisal report your agent has provided and discuss it with them.  The report along with the agent’s insights will help guide you as to a suitable listing price. 


If you are selling via auction, your agent will get a good indication of market sentiment and buyer feedback during the open homes and are a valuable source of information when determining your reserve price.  It’s important to listen to them and consider other market factors before settling on your reserve.


An agent wants you to sell your property for the most amount of money possible as their remuneration is based on commission on the sale price.  They are on your team, so talk to them about what they think as they are a good source or reliable market centric information. 

2. Under invest on your advertising and marketing spend

As marketing and advertising costs are an extra expense when selling, don’t try and cut corners and under invest here.  Make sure your advertising campaign is extensive, so it reaches as many buyers as possible; active, passive and out of area.  One of our key philosophies on selling is we want to generate the maximum amount of competition in a short period of time to drive the sales price up. In order to generate buyer competition, buyers need to know your property is on the market and the most effective way to do this is through a strong marketing / advertising campaign. 

What you should do  

Give yourself enough time to plan and implement a strong marketing campaign with your agent.  Discuss the different options available to you including the many digital offerings that are available to compliment the more traditional options such as mail cards, newspaper advertising and similar.  You want to create as much awareness and engagement about your property to attract as many buyers as possible. This is a key ingredient to a successful sale.

3. Don’t forget to fix anything that is broken or needs repair

Buyers who are considering putting in an offer or making a bid at an auction will do their due diligence on your property.  This normally includes a pest and building inspection.  These are thorough examinations conducted by trained experts who will walk through your property with a keen eye looking for problems. If their report shows issues; structural, pest, water damage etc it can turn the table on negotiations.  If you are toward the end of the sale negotiation, a report with issues can give the buyer the upper hand and they may look to negotiate the sale price downwards, or if the issues are large, they may walk away from the sale altogether. 

What you should do  

Walk through your property as if it is the first time you have seen it.  Write a list of what needs to be fixed and if you can’t do it yourself organise a professional to help.  It is also worth paying for your own building and pest inspection before you put the property on the market. Finding out and addressing any bigger hidden issues that you may not have been aware of can potentially save the sale.  If you find there are some issues that need to be addressed such as a pest infestation or water damage, by fixing these and sharing the completed job report with your agent can be helpful.  It shows a level of transparency, it ensures the agent is equipped to answer any questions would-be buyers may have and it can help ensure you are not hit with any surprises during the negotiations. 

4. Don’t be offended if your agent says to make some changes

This one if often hard to avoid particularly if you are selling your home, the place you have thrown all your hard-earned money into, the place you’ve raised the kids and spent every second weekend maintaining. Don’t be offended if your real estate agent suggests you change the colour of the feature wall or style the property differently. They understand what buyers in your area are looking for and how best to position your property to appeal to them. 

What you should do  

Listen to your agent about what they suggest you do to your property.  Consider ‘neutralising’ the property by toning down garish colour as you want to appeal to a mass buyer group and don’t want them distracted by the bright yellow feature wall.  Perhaps consider hiring a stylist to help prepare your property for sale.  Your agent can share some local stylists they have worked with, or you can do a search online. 

5. Don’t clutter the place with your personal items

You want buyers to envisage themselves living in your property, you don’t want them to be distracted by your photos of the family on every bench, piles of paper on the desk or all your holiday trinkets dotted around the property.  These qualities that make your property feel like ‘home’ can be off putting to buyers as it can send the message ‘this is my home not yours.  Plus, clutter throughout the property should be minimised when selling a property to enable you to create a flow through the different spaces.  Think flow, clutter free, space and light.  

What you should do  

Spend time de-cluttering your benchtops, cupboards (yes people look inside), removing the majority of personal items and if you need to, remove some of the bulky unnecessary furniture to create a better flow through the property. You want to create as much space as possible without losing the ‘feel’ of the home.  This is an art sometimes and often best done with the help of an expert such as property stylist.  They can offer advice on what needs to be changed or can go as far as removing and storing your furniture and replacing with hire furniture for the duration of the sales campaign. Your agent can share local stylists’ details, or you can do a search online. 

6. Don’t get offended by low offers 

Buyers are trying to buy a property for the lowest price possible and sellers are trying to sell for the highest - it is the art of negotiation that achieves a result both parties are happy with. Buyers will often put in a low offer to test the market and it then comes down to the skill of the real estate agent to negotiate the buyer up from that price to one both the buyer and seller are happy with. Buying a property is a business transaction, involving a lot of money so don’t get offended, don’t blow the buyer off, see how far your agent can go with the negotiation.  Obviously, you as the seller have the final say as to whether you will accept the price, so you are under no obligation to take the low offer - just enjoy the sales process and most importantly don’t get offended.

What you should do 

Talk to your agent and come back with a counteroffer. Most buyers are willing to negotiate and will come back with at least a second offer, so this process will help give you an indication of how much they are willing to spend.  As we said above, you have the final say as to what price you will accept so if it is too low you can always say no.

7. Don’t make last minute renovations that don’t add value 

While certain rooms and spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and outside areas can make or break a sale, if you’re considering renovating these or other key areas of your property before you sell, make sure you don’t over capitalise.  Solar panels, water tanks, expensive landscaping, a brand-new kitchen and bathroom will take time to recoup the cost. And in fact, some buyers would prefer these areas to be left unrenovated so they can add their own stamp and add value themselves. 

What you should do 

Find out what buyers in your area will pay more for and if you were to renovate certain rooms before selling, how much it could potentially add to the final sale price.  Your agent talks to buyers all the time, they know what features are important to them, they also have a good idea how much impact renovations could have on a sale price.  Knowing how much value they could potentially add can help guide you on how much you could spend on home improvements without overcapitalising.

8. Don’t choose a real estate agent because they are the cheapest

Don’t make the mistake of choosing an agent purely because they are the cheapest. Your selection should be based on careful consideration of a number of key criteria. A great local agent, whilst they may have a slightly higher commission rate, may have the negotiation skills, experience and market insights that could often help achieve a higher sales price. 

What you should do 

When selecting your real estate agent, you should review their online presence, their achievements, testimonials and reviews. You should see how they perform at other open homes, talk to them about the local market and assess their knowledge.  Find out what marketing strategy they would use to sell your property, their recent sales results and the quality of their references. It’s an important decision that can mean a higher sales price, so even if you’re paying a slightly higher commission rate, you’re hopefully walking away with more money from the sale of your property. To find out more about how to find the right real estate agent and questions to ask article here.

A final word

Sometimes turning the focus upside down and looking at what not to do, can shed light on areas that you may not have considered.  We hope that these insights into selling a property have been helpful.  If you have any questions about your property or your local real estate market, your McGrath real estate agent would love to share their knowledge with you.  Click here to connect


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