Common Mistakes by First-Time Home Sellers

If you’ve never sold a home before, allow me to share a few common mistakes so you can avoid them.


Especially in this market, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overpricing. Given how much housing values have risen in recent years, it would be natural to assume that the trend will continue. Even the experts at the California Association of Realtors just predicted that the median home price in our state will go from $789,000 to $830,000 in the last nine months of 2022.

Here’s the thing: what’s true statewide isn’t necessarily true for Ukiah, and although prices may go up locally, if you price your property in hopes of capturing the coming increase, you will likely scare away prospective buyers who would have been happy to pay today’s market value.

When you put your home on the market, the list price should pique people’s interest. With that in mind, it can be better to slightly underprice than to overprice. When a property is competitively priced it often attracts more than one buyer, making a bidding war far more likely.

If you overprice, Realtors who represent buyers will tell their clients they can do better, and they won’t even schedule a showing. In fact, your property may not come to their attention at all because, when using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), buyers’ agents often filter their property searches based on what their buyer can afford. If your property is 15 percent over market, it will get filtered out.

The other problem with overpricing is that it can lead to a longer time on the market. This leads Realtors to begin wondering why it hasn’t sold, and the property can get a reputation as shopworn or tainted after a while.

Skimping on Showings

The second common mistake of first-time home sellers is restricting the number of people who view the property. The more you do so, the more you restrict offers. If your property can only be shown on Saturdays from 1-5 pm, buyers who cannot look at it then are no longer in the prospective buyer pool.

Another way sellers restrict access to their property is to forego being entered into the MLS, which is crazy when you consider that the MLS is the best way to let everyone know your property is for sale. Some sellers reason that they don’t want neighbors to know their house is for sale or they only want their agent to be able to show their property. This is like saying, “Sell my house for the best price, but don’t tell anyone it’s for sale.”

Staging Slip-ups

Let’s say your property is competitively priced and available for all to show. If your house is crowded with too much stuff or the wrong stuff, it will not attract the price it could. Home staging can reduce time on the market and increase sale price. Ask your Realtor whether professional staging is appropriate for your property. If you are Martha Stewart and your home looks like it belongs on the front of House Beautiful magazine, perhaps you don’t need help.

If your house looks like mine, you definitely need help. Even if professional staging doesn’t make sense, be sure to remove a third of the contents and clean like your in-laws are coming to dinner (you can see my previous columns for more on that at

Be sure to check next week for more home-selling tips.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.

Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.

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