The Root of Home Seller Mistakes [Not fluff or BS]

Real estate giant, ActiveRain, asked 1,000 real estate agents to rate the top three mistakes made by home sellers.

  • 77% said, “overpriced home.”

  • 32% said, “cluttered space.”

  • 34% said, “Showing availability.”

The other results include, 21% “unwilling to negotiate,” 20% “Won’t make repairs,” and 28% said, “unpleasant odors,” presumably pet odors. In other words, according to the 1,000 real estate agents asked, “It’s all your fault,” you—being the home seller. The client.

My question is, if agents know these are the mistakes that home sellers make, why do they not step in and instruct clients of ways to avoid these mistakes? And second, if they refuse, why does the agent accept that homeowner as a client? I mean, isn’t that the whole purpose of retaining a real estate agent, in the first place, to make use of his experience and expertise? Why would any agent work with someone who ignores their best advice?

I was watching an episode of Botched the other day on the E! Network, a TV series about two plastic surgeons, Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif, that fix the cosmetic surgery blunders of other plastic surgeons.  To start, each new prospective patient undergoes a rigorous consultation. This is where the investigative work is done. After the consultation, if the two surgeons don’t agree that they can help the patient, or…if they get the impression that the patient isn’t going to follow their strict instructions, when it comes to recovery and post-op procedures, they refuse acceptance of that patient as a client.

Here is something I have learned about those at the top of their respective field. The true professional values his reputation more than anything else—even money or fame, or any kind of award or peer recognition.

If the Botched plastic surgeons accepted a patient, as a client, that they knew was going to be worse off, because they couldn’t help them, or end up with a horrible result, because they refused to follow post-op instructions—ultimately, who does it reflect poorly on? The doctor or the patient? Of course, it tarnishes the reputation of the cosmetic surgeon. After all, he is the Authority and supposed voice of reason.
And when asked, “Who did your surgery?” The patient is going to say what? “Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif.” You got it. That’s exactly what they’re going to say.

This is why I refuse to accept just any homeowner as a client. I don’t do listing presentations or give sales pitches, because I am not in the convincing business. My business is “getting clients the best result.” This means, there is a checklist of agreements we must come to. First on that list, we must agree to work as a team. So many agents and homeowners, work in opposition.

But beyond that, unwillingness to address any of those items above is no different than a defiant patient, refusing to follow important post-op instructions. Unlike most agents, why would I ever accept a “patient,” who is determined to sabotage the success of their “procedure” i.e. home sale? I wouldn’t.
I don’t want that “botched” outcome on my record, any more than Dr. Dubrow or Dr. Nassif wants it on theirs.

Besides. There are solutions to each one of those “mistakes.”

For starters, by replacing the inferior price-driven approach most agents utilize( a.k.a. Comparative Market Analysis, Free Home Evaluations, etc.), when pricing clients’ home, with the more sophisticated Value-Driven Approach, the objective shifts from simply getting the home sold to protecting the investment, which can prevent homeowners from losing a significant amount in ROI (in rare cases, even more than that).

This is something I’ve written about many times and have documented the details of this approach in my book—read chapter 3.

But the skinny of it is this; value dictates price, and there are at least a dozen different ways, depending on the “starting position” of the property (see my article on ‘Differentiation’— published March 2017 or email me for a copy) to positively manipulate a home’s value to elevate price. This, by the way, is something I’ve learned from studying Warren Buffett’s proven investment philosophy. Turns out, Buffett’s “brilliance” applies to pretty much every aspect of selling real estate. Something my clients have been benefitting from.

Second, if a homeowner won’t make “time” to show their home to a prospective buyer, I would fire that client, and let’s face it, they deserve a sub-standard result.
And, for the record, this is not a “mistake.” It can be explained as something much simpler. “The homeowner is not serious about achieving the best outcome.” So why would any agent ever work with that homeowner? Any agent who cares about his or her reputation, wouldn’t, certainly not me.

Of course, I suppose some agent’s reason that a poorly sold home, even, if at a much lower sales price, is still a commission check. And any commission check is better than none. Hey – I can only speculate…what goes through these agents’ head. I can’t really understand it…

Third, a process known as professional staging—something I have done for almost every home seller well before we’re on the market—is the solution to that “cluttered space” mistake. And because professional staging is quite different than “general” staging, which typically amounts to no more than the rearranging of furniture, the entire home selling process tends to be much more effective.

I have found the reason most home sellers are unwilling to do certain things is because they don’t understand how it is going to make them more money. But this is purely a matter of perspective — to see the money, your ROI, your profit as already there in full, you, as the seller, will understand the importance of making proper preparations to not lose any of it.

If my unique approach that I adhere to like a religion, no different than Warren Buffett does his investment philosophy, didn’t deliver clients a better result—you can bet clients wouldn’t refer my services to their friends or family members. The fact that they do, though, explains why I continue to implement the methodology I have worked hard to test and perfect.

The real secret, though, this is something I talk about in Chapter 8 of my book. And that is getting an accurate and comprehensive Real Estate Diagnosis™, first, before ever thinking about putting your home on the market. I know this sounds like common sense. But rarely is it done.

How can you do “surgery,” though, and get the best result, if there’s no diagnostic consultation to investigate the best course of action?

You can’t.

This is why so many homeowners end up with Botched home sales. It is also the reason why so many real estate agents, like those surveyed in ActiveRain study, blame clients for the “mistakes” they make. Sorry, but if you’re the professional—and the agent is supposed to be—then any sub-standard outcome is that agent’s fault. Not the homeowners. The agent should own up to it.

Further, no rule states that any real estate agent must accept every client. On the TV show Botched, Dr. Dubrow and Nassif turn away just as many, if not more patients than they actually accept.


If a homeowner indicates he is unwilling to do what is necessary to obtain the best result, the agent shouldn’t work with that client… but, by all means, don’t accept the client, then blame the homeowner, for his mistakes, because the home sale turned out Botched.

That is just poor etiquette!

The professional will always accept responsibility, because the client should be adhering to the professional’s tested and proven approach. And, if the professional doesn’t have a tested and proven approach, then you must ask, “Is this person really a professional?”