An overwhelming share of Americans who sold a home for the first time in the past two years wish they had done something differently (84%). A new Zillow survey conducted online by The Harris Poll finds that even in a sellers’ market, many recent first-time sellers have regrets about the pricing, timing or marketing of their home.
Rookie mistakes can be costly, especially when selling one of life’s biggest financial assets — a home.
Here are the top four regrets first-time home sellers can avoid to set themselves up for success this spring.
The most common thing recent first-time home sellers wish they had done differently is set a higher list price (39%). It’s understandable, given those who sold during the pandemic’s red hot housing market saw nearly every home command a sky-high price.
But today’s market is different. Pricing a home too high could lead to a slower sale or force the seller to drop their price. The median time on the market is now 73 days nationwide, but well-priced listings that find a buyer take only 31 days to go under contract. In January, nearly 1 in 4 listings had a price cut (22%), which is 10 percentage points higher than last winter. That’s why nearly 3 in 4 agents believe pricing is the most important thing sellers need to get right in a less frenzied housing market.
“This spring’s sellers are more likely to regret pricing their home too high,” said Zillow senior economist Nicole Bachaud. “The price their neighbor commanded a year ago may no longer be realistic. They need to adjust their expectations if they want to avoid having their home linger on the market. It’s more important than ever for sellers to rely on the advice of a great local agent who understands their neighborhood and has a winning pricing strategy.”
Ignoring online curb appeal
Nearly 9 in 10 recent first-time sellers think something could have helped them get a higher sale price than they received (87%). Almost 2 in 5 (39%) think better listing photos could have boosted their bottom line, while 1 in 4 recent first-time sellers (25%) think a virtual tour could have helped sell their home for more.
Most prospective buyers shop for homes online, meaning sellers can’t ignore online curb appeal. A great listing media package that includes professional high-resolution photography and drone photography helps showcase a home’s best features. However, today’s buyers expect an even more immersive experience. Listings that also include a 3D home virtual tour or an interactive floor plan get 69% more page views and 80% more saves on Zillow.
One-quarter of recent first-time sellers (25%) wish they had listed their home at a different time. While the best time to sell will always depend on a homeowner’s personal circumstances, if the owner has flexibility, the second half of April is the optimal time to list a home for sale nationwide, Zillow research shows.
Timing the sale of a home with the purchase of a new one is one of the biggest stressors sellers experience. More than one-third of recent first-time sellers wish they had known how long — or how quickly (36%) — it would take to sell their home. Nearly 2 out of 5 recent first-time sellers (37%) say selling their home on their timeline and/or with a flexible closing date or selling their home quickly was their top priority, more than the share of sellers who prioritized getting top dollar (26%).
Skimping on repairs
Sellers gearing up for the spring home shopping season need to roll up their sleeves and spruce up their homes if they want to attract bids from a smaller pool of buyers. More than one-quarter of recent first-time sellers (25%) think they could have gotten a higher sale price if they had invested in more home improvements and repairs.
“The right projects can pay off,” said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home trends expert. “Sellers need to think strategically about their return on investment before diving into repairs and renovations. Landscaping, interior painting and carpet cleaning are the most commonly completed seller projects for good reason. They boost online curb appeal and send a powerful signal to a buyer that a home is well-maintained.”
Roughly two-thirds of recent first-time sellers (66%) took on at least two home improvement projects to prepare their home for sale. Nearly 8 in 10 recent first-time sellers (78%) believe the projects they completed helped their home sell.