4 Things You Shouldn’t Do If You Want to Sell Your House

A home with an addition and deck

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Preparing to sell your home is always a little frenzied. Regardless of whether you’re fully ready for the sale or thrown into the decision to sell, it can feel stressful—and even more so if you’ve made some silly mistakes along the way.

Plus, on the tails of the past two years, there are even more considerations as far as making sure your home fits current trends, makes sense in the present climate, and is really market-ready. As we move into 2022, the way we style our homes and what we prioritize is changing again—inevitably impacting what people are looking for when it comes to selling and buying.

If you’re looking to sell your home, there are some definite to-dos, and some definite don’ts. Here are four things you shouldn’t do if you want to sell your house, according to top home design and real estate experts.

Don’t Rush the Process

While circumstances are often out of our control when it comes to home selling and buying, it’s generally a good idea to try to keep things less rushed (if possible). This means scheduling tours intentionally, staging your home to share the best perspective, and taking time whenever renovations or changes are on the table.

First, improve (and don’t rush) your staging: “Never dismiss the extra effort and minor expense of staging indoors and out,” shares Jeff Lichtenstein, owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties. "Always consider any potential buyer's height and eye level as if they were walking into your home for the first time." 

Lichtenstein recommends walking through your house and considering the focal points for someone who is four, five, six, or even seven feet tall. Consider what may be blocking different areas of your home from view and be more intentional about how you can showcase the best parts rather than quickly touring or tossing some less-than-great pictures on an online posting.   

As far as renovations go, while they are often done for positive reasons, some experts say to use caution.

“I would avoid renovating a bathroom or kitchen if you are planning to just turn around and sell it,” suggests Todd Maloof, Real Estate Agent for Hudson Dwellings. “You certainly won’t get that investment back, especially now due to shipping delays and price increases for supplies. And, most importantly, you won’t be able to enjoy the project.”  

It’s important to factor in shipping delays with respect to renovations—especially in the current climate. Ask yourself: Is improving my worth the risk of potentially delaying the sale process if there are any shipping delays?  

Another consideration is, of course, the market. While you may not always have control of when you’re selling your home, if you do, it’s smart to consider how the market is positively or negatively impacting the potential sale.

“Don’t sell when inventory is high,” cautions Alison Bernstein, real estate expert and founder and president of Suburban Jungle. “Certain times of the year, we have tons of buyers circling, yet not enough inventory. Late summer and late fall are both great times to throw your gorgeous listing on the market— even though it is not prime ‘selling season’ your home will be sure to stand out!”

Don’t Neglect the Influence of the Past Two Years

As much as we want to avoid conversations about the struggles of the past two years, in the world of home design, they are (unfortunately) unavoidable.  

“In a world with so many things out of our own control, home organization is one way we can exhibit control over our own lives,” shares the Modsy team in their 2022 Trend Report. “Creating a home that feels cozy and calm is the perfect way to feel safe and at ease with the chaos of the outside world.”  

As such, when it comes to preparing a home for sale, keeping the past two years in focus is incredibly important. While 2021 was all about shifting from this idea of ‘productivity’ in the home to relaxation, 2022 continues to highlight comfort as a priority.

So, what does this mean as far as designing and selling your home? It’s important to focus on the current trends in order to make sure your home makes sense with what people are gravitating towards—in both priority and appeal. However, you don’t want to neglect the focus on comfort and safety. People are looking for spaces that feel safe, welcoming, and homey. And if you’re thinking about selling your home, deviating from this focus will definitely be more harmful than helpful.

Don’t Prioritize Trends Over Function

Keeping your home current and progressive is great; however, with any trend-following comes the caution of over-following. (Yes, there is such a thing as ‘too much’ when it comes to preparing your home for sale.)

The key is to not prioritize trends over function, especially in staple areas of your home like the kitchen, bathroom, or master bedroom.

“While a large and luxurious shower in the primary bathroom is a desirable upgrade, make sure to preserve a bathtub in [the] secondary bathroom for optimum future marketability,” shares Sarah Barnard of Sarah Barnard Design. “Soaking in the tub might not be your thing, [but] prospective homeowners will appreciate having the option.”

Another trend Barnard suggests opting out of is artificial turf.

"One of the main benefits of having a garden is connecting with nature. Instead of covering your soil with commercially manufactured artificial turf, consider planting native grasses or ground cover that does not require mowing,” she says. “Native plants support local wildlife, reduce water use and enhance the beauty of our landscapes.”

Don’t Discount What You Have

Finally, it’s important to stop devaluing what you have. For example, rather than saying you only have two bedrooms—because the third doubles as a home office—highlight the fact that you have three bedrooms and an office space. Making a subtle shift like this can help potential buyers to see the good in your home rather than the areas of improvement.

Another consideration is to put aside the perspective that you have to renovate (or make a lot of renovations) in order to make the sale.

“If you're thinking about selling your house, the first thing you want to stop doing is any renovations that are not going to improve your property value,” shares Russell Enyart, real estate agent and founder of EnyartHomes. “We walk properties all the time with clients who think their custom wallpaper, removing a room, and installing a super expensive new pool are going to dramatically improve their selling price, when in fact, they can often have the opposite effect.” 

Instead, appreciate and highlight what you have while doing smart updates. 

“Smart updates, such as neutral paint, neutral window coverings, updating old flooring and neutral, good quality kitchen and bath renovations will yield the best return on your investment,” Enyart says.