Professional mistakes occur in the real estate world, and some are more serious than others. Whether it’s a mispriced home or unprofessional photography, real estate agents can sometimes accidentally jeopardize home sales.
This article will outline some of the most common mistakes that real estate agents can make. Learn to identify and avoid the errors below.
1. Mispricing a Home
There’s a science to pricing homes, especially if you’re looking to sell a home in a hot market. Experienced real estate agents will consider factors like property characteristics and comparable sales to avoid mispricing a home.
You’ll want to set a price that allows the home to be found in any online real estate searches. Set a charm price — for example, $499,000 instead of a rounded home price of $500,000 — so that the home is included in more property search results.
Don’t get overly creative with your asking price. Keep the price set to the nearest thousand — $350,000 instead of $349,764 — to avoid unwanted follow-up questions from potential buyers. Try to keep the listed price of your home within 10% of the average home prices in that neighborhood over the last three months.
You’ll also want to align the home’s square footage with its asking price. Take a look at the asking prices for local, similarly-sized homes. Use these prices as a starting point when listing a house on the market.
Real estate investors should also understand how to accurately price a home. When you choose to sell your property in the future, you’ll already know how to set an accurate asking price. If you’re a real estate investor, you can also use nationwide real estate data networks to assist in the home pricing process.
2. Skipping the Pre-Listing Inspection
Under ordinary market conditions, inspections are a common step in preparing a property for listing. Pre-listing inspections can help proactively identify potential issues in the home, which sellers can address before the home is listed. In an extremely hot seller’s market — that is, when demand is especially high and listings are being sold quickly — it is sometimes possible to skip the pre-listing inspection, since buyers are so keen to acquire the property and may not care about existing issues. However, more often than not, this is not a step that can be safely skipped by agents.
Home inspectors can complete a pre-listing inspection within an hour or two, and the process can help you improve your chances of selling any home. Inspectors perform a complete walkthrough of the home, identifying places inside the house where repairs might be necessary.
Outside of an unusually hot seller’s market, you may find it more difficult to sell a home when you skip the pre-listing inspection. You may find it harder to set an accurate price, since you’re unaware of potential problem areas inside. Once potential buyers perform their inspections, your seller may need to cover the full cost of all requested repairs.
3. Lack of Staging
Staging — the preparation of a home before it is shown to potential buyers — helps to make your home look and feel appealing. Effective staging can increase the likelihood of a sale, in the same way that unprofessional staging can make a home feel used, dated, or unkempt. Real estate agents should use staging to help any seller show off their home’s best assets and declutter the property to make it easier for buyers to visualize an updated furnishing scheme.
When staging a home, remember that you’re trying to highlight its strengths. Start with the outside of the home: make sure that the grass is trimmed, the porch is clean, gutters are empty, and the welcome mat is in place. On the inside, emphasize the size of the kitchen by clearing counters of any clutter and giving cabinets quick paint touch-ups if necessary.
Move furniture away from the walls to help prospective buyers imagine themselves in the space. Take some time to clean each bathroom, removing any mold and restoring grout between tiles.
Even if you’re planning a virtual showing for a home, you should still stage it properly. Virtual showings help potential buyers view homes from a distance, whether through prerecorded videos, public live streams, or 3D tours. Real estate agents should still complete the staging process before virtually showing a home, to introduce each interested party to the home’s features.
4. Poor Advertising
Dedicated advertising strategies can help spread the word online about new home availability. When you take time to advertise a property, it can reach new buyers on the internet and inform locals about a home’s best features. On the contrary, real estate agents who don't advertise, or who advertise incorrectly, only hamper their ability to close a sale.
Consider the following options to creatively advertise your home online:
- Online pay-per-click ads
- Property-specific websites
- Free or paid home listing websites
- “For Sale” signs
- Print advertising materials, including posters and fliers
- Social media
Many real estate agents are proponents for social media advertisement, given how efficient social platforms can be in spreading a message. You can post pictures online in seconds, prioritizing professional home images that can improve home appeal. Once your social media page becomes a trusted place for new home listings, potential buyers may consult your opinion at the beginning of their home buying journey.
5. Sharing Unprofessional Photos of the Property
Do your best to snap home photos that show off its best features. If you share unprofessional photos of a listed property, you risk turning away potential buyers with unattractive camera angles, filters, or unclear images.
With the right approach, home photos can greatly improve your chance of reaching a sale. Clean windows and turn on lights to enhance interior lighting and take photos from the corner of each room to improve the amount of space you can photograph.
Before you take each picture, make sure that you’re only including essential features in the frame. While you’ll want to include attractive furniture pieces, remove items like reading glasses, newspapers, shoes, and anything else that doesn’t contribute to the space.
Focus on kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms when photographing a home. Many buyers are primarily interested in these rooms during the home buying process, given how often they are used daily. Use a tripod if necessary in some rooms with a tighter fit, to ensure that you can capture the entire space. By contrast, you won’t need as many photos of attics or storage spaces.
6. Not Communicating with Clients
Communication is essential. As a real estate agent, it’s your job to maintain communication with sellers and buyers at all times. Even if you’re dealing with difficult real estate clients, these professional skills can lead to a streamlined real estate transaction.
When you’re working with real estate clients in person, start with the right body language. Keep your posture straight and arms uncrossed during conversations, particularly when you’re listening to your client speak. Maintain eye contact to indicate your interest and keep responses brief. You can share your own experiences that can inform a buyer or seller’s opinions, but make sure that clients feel free to make their own decisions.
Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what they’re looking to get out of the home buying or selling process. Ask questions that allow your clients to define specific expectations, hopes, and doubts. Ask follow-up questions if any responses are unclear. Once you understand what your clients want, you can take steps to help them achieve their goals.
7. Doing the Bare Minimum
Most thriving real estate agents truly love satisfying their clients. Whether you’re driving clients to an open house or answering calls after hours, there are many ways to demonstrate commitment to a buyer or seller.
Anyone buying or selling a home is taking a major life step. They’ll need support, not only with transactional details but also in affirming their decisions. As a real estate agent, you’re more than a home broker. You’ll serve as an advocate for each buyer or seller, helping them make decisions that improve their quality of life.
To best serve clients, stay up to date on the latest real estate industry standards. Make sure you're familiar with local tax laws, property tax rates, mortgage rates, and other details clients will consider when buying or selling a home.
Going above and beyond for clients also means staying familiar with any developing real estate trends. Free real estate education platforms can walk you through wholesaling, marketing strategies, and other real estate basics. After you register and complete free real estate courses, you’ll obtain a certification that can further improve your qualifications.