9 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew About Selling Your Home


When it comes time to sell your house, having a great listing agent is one of the keys to making it happen. And yet, the agent can’t do it all—your help is needed. Help your agent help you!

Ideally, you will have an open, honest relationship with your listing agent. But even then, there are some things your agent might be reluctant to tell you. Whether to spare your feelings or because he assumes you already know, here are some things your listing agent wishes you knew. Listen up and learn!

1. Your stuff is lovely, but…

“While your home may be beautifully decorated, it still looks like your home, not the buyer’s,” says Teresa Stephenson, vice president of residential brokerage at Platinum Properties in New York.

In particular, clutter can make a home feel cramped and leave a bad first impression.

2. Stop hiding things from me

Leaky faucets? Termite infestation? An air conditioner that barely blows cool air?

“Don’t keep any of your home’s flaws from your agent because you are scared it might hurt your sale,” says Karen Elmir, founder and CEO of the Elmir Group in Miami.

Remember, your listing agent is on your side and knows what must be fixed or what can slide—so go ahead and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever you hide from an agent could rear its head as a nasty surprise later.

3. You need to fix a few things

Katie Messenger, a Realtor® with Bello Dimora Real Estate Network in Kentucky and Cincinnati, wants clients to know they might have to spend a few bucks to make their house look its best.

“Replace the trim the dogs scratched up. Clean the scuff marks off the walls. Power-wash the algae off the vinyl siding,” she says. “To you, it’s totally normal because you’ve lived with these issues for years. To buyers, these will look like expensive repairs, which means they’ll have to lowball you, or not make an offer at all, because your house ‘needs a lot of work.’” Even if it actually doesn’t.

4. Your remodeling might not pay off much

Blood, sweat, tears, and a heck of a lot of cash might have gone into your remodeling projects, but that doesn’t mean there’s a guaranteed payback for any of it, as illogical as that might seem.

“An ROI, or return, on a home’s upgrades does not necessarily increase value,” says Michael Kelczewski, a Realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Delaware and Maryland.

It largely depends on what kind of home improvement you do; here’s a list of some common renovations with their return on investment.

5. Be nice: Don’t overprice!

While listing at a high price and then coming down as necessary seems like the best way to avoid leaving any money on the table, you could actually be shooting yourself in the foot.

“If you overprice your home, buyers may not catch that, but buyer’s agents will,” points out Doc Reiss, managing broker at Town & Country Real Estate in Port Angeles, WA. “When a home is overpriced, buyer’s agents will either avoid bringing their buyers or, worse yet, they use it as an example to sell another property: ‘See how much nicer this one is for the price than the last one we saw?’”

6. Cleanliness really does count

Do people really not clean their house before it’s shown to potential buyers? Yep.

Andrew Mak, an agent with Corcoran in New York, says things like a greasy stove, dust on the floors or furniture, and unkempt bathroom fixtures like the shower, sinks, and toilets are noticed most during a showing.

“The kitchen and the bathroom are the two main areas where cleanliness—or lack thereof—is most obvious,” says Mak. Gross. (You did want to sell this house, right?)

7. Have some patience

Yes, we know you thought your beautiful house would fly off the market the moment it hit, but that’s not always the case. In fact, realtor.com data show that homes sit on the market for an average 66 days.

“The real estate process is a long process from showings to inspections to negotiations,“ says Kelczewski. “Be patient! Persevering leads to success.”

8. Don’t hurt the messenger

“When I present a lowball offer, a long list of repair items, or a low appraisal, I am just relaying information from another party,” Messenger says. “I know it’s an emotional and sometimes frustrating process; however, I am not the one writing ‘insulting’ offers, performing home inspections, or appraising the home.

“I am a representative of your best interests, so know that I am always in your corner to fight for what makes the most sense for you—not all of the other parties involved in a real estate transaction,” she says.

9. Selling your home isn’t a spectator sport

“Some sellers don’t realize that hiring a real estate agent doesn’t mean they get to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch the home sale unfold,” says Jonathan Self, a Realtor with Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

“Selling a home is a team effort, even when you hire a real estate agent. If you can keep your home clean and tidy and arrange for someone to dog sit during showings, I can be 100% focused on selling your home for top dollar. That cooperation and partnership makes it much easier for me to do a good job for you.”

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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