5 Mistakes Home Sellers Should Never Make

home seller mistakesTrying to sell a home in today's market requires courage, smarts and a fair amount of humble pie-eating. It's a buyers' market, which means sellers are expected to roll over and grovel appreciatively over each showing their agent landed.

Sometimes, whether through ignorance or a last gasp of pride, sellers make one of these critical mistakes that actually worsens their situation. So if you are trying to sell a home, make sure you:

1. Don't move out with your furniture.

Let's say you're no longer dancing to the unemployment blues and finally landed a job that happens to be in another city. You need to sell your house fast and relocate because there's a paycheck with your name on it, but it's 3,000 miles away. By all means, you can move post haste. Just don't take your furniture with you. Nothing sells worse (and by worse, we mean for less money and takes much longer) than an empty house.

Think about all those new developments you have toured. Which of the identical units looked the best? The ones with the furniture in them. Empty houses are cold and depressing. The rooms may look bigger without furniture but they also look soulless. Plus a house recently stripped of wall hangings often screams "paint me" at the top of its lungs.

2. Don't assume home-staging is just for the wealthy.

Getting back to point No. 1, you want the house to look good and maybe your old La-Z-Boy lounger has passed its prime. Professional home-stagers are the magicians of the modern-day decorating world. They move things around, bring in a few pieces, stash away some of your junk and -- voila! -- your house looks like it's worth $100,000 more than you're asking and suddenly you have a buyer drooling. In fact, you might like the new look so much you don't want to sell anymore.

A study by Stagedhomes.com found that 94.6 percent of homes that were professionally staged sold within 33 days, compared to an average of 196 days for homes that are not staged. Staged homes stay on the market 83 percent less time than a home that has not been staged.

Staging is something you should consider if you do need to move out your furniture.

3. Don't think your dog doesn't smell.

We here at AOL are pet-lovers. We even are allowed to bring our dogs to work with us. But we also know that not everyone shares our affection for our four-legged friends. In fact, it's been estimated that 15 percent of the population is allergic to dogs and even more are allergic to cats.

Pets need to be removed for showings. Crate them and leave the crate in the garage.

But to focus on the odor issue. We often grow immune to smells that we live with. Many an ex-cigarette smoker has commented how he never smelled the cigarettes while he smoked them but now that he's stopped, he can smell someone smoking in the next car on the highway. Same principle applies to dogs. Admit it: Can your pooch really roll around in the dog park and come home not a little odoriferous?

Steam clean the carpets and upholstered furniture; launder the bedspreads if Fido has been known to sneak up on the bed; and ask a pet-less friend to give your house the sniff test.

4. Don't think that buyers will understand that you have kids and tolerate a little mess and clutter.

It's just not so, my friends. The perfect house showing, says just about every agent bearing a Realtor's membership card, is one where the personal affects are missing. You want prospective buyers to be able to envision themselves living in this house. Your son's Little League trophy belongs in the garage, packed in a box ready to be moved. Having clean bathrooms and kitchens are most critical. Nothing turns a buyer's nose up more than dishes in the sink or a bathroom in need of a good cleaning.

The declutter and cleanup advice applies to the outside of the house as well as the inside, said Jim Hamilton, regional vice president of National Association of Realtors. He says that 70 percent of the decision about whether to buy a home is made as the buyers drive up to it.

5. Don't price the house based on what you need to get out of it or what you think it is worth.

Price it based on what it will sell for. Otherwise, what's the point of chasing the dog around with a can of Lysol and making your kids pick up their clothes: You won't be moving anyway.

For more on selling a home and related topics see these AOL Real Estateguides:

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