Ten Things Not to Do if Your House is For Sale

House4Sale_displayThe inspiration for this list came to me while I was witnessing a couple of houses for sale. I figured that among other things these items would be pretty obvious. I have to believe they were just not top of mind when the listing broker showed up to sign the listing. Of course, no listing broker worth their salt would point out particular areas needing improvement until the agreement is signed. After the ink is dry, it is hoped some discussion would take place.

Top Ten Things Not to do if Your House is For Sale

10 If your house is for sale, do not decide to make your regular batch of sour kraut during the broker open house. If you do, at best those attending are all sour kraut lovers. At worst, small notes will be made on the file to the effect that a complete cleaning will be needed to get rid of the dead animal smell. (Where did someone get the idea sour kraut smelled like a dead animal?)

9 If your house is for sale, do not assume everyone will overlook all the repairs that have been put off. At best, you might be able to save the deal by reducing the price to offset what is needs fixing. At worst, you will be the proud owner of this house until it falls. (Or until you get off your butt and get the repairs done.)

8 If your house is for sale, do not think the words, “Don’t mind the mess,” will cause the potential buyers to follow your advice. If you do, at best the potential buyers will politely spend a few moments and then disappear. At worst, the potential buyers will factor in the mess in their offer price. (How do you feel about paying the buyers $1000.00 per messy room in a reduced offer.)

7 If your house is for sale, do not think you can shove all your junk into the garage. If you do, at best your potential buyers will be the same kind of folks who don’t use their garage for cars. At worst, your potential buyers will assume all your junk will remain with the house and will make for the nearest exit. (Gee, you told them you would have all that stuff moved right?)

6 If your house is for sale, do not hang around while potential buyers are visiting. If you do, at best the potential buyers will think you don’t trust them. At worst, the potential buyers will believe that you have some creepy alternative motive for spying on them. (The creepiness of the motive will escalate the more they see you.)

5 If your house is for sale, do not think your prize massive collection of garden gnomes has the same appeal to potential buyers. If you do, at best your potential buyers will wonder what other collections you have that will have to be shipped. At worst, your potential buyers will think your house is cursed by the garden people and will make tracks out of there. (Some of those ceramic folk look like they might be dangerous after dark)

4 If your house is for sale, do not leave your pet Parrott behind for the showing. If you do, at best the potential buyers will learn a couple of new words that Polly has heard from you. At worst, the potential buyers are both grossly allergic to exotic bird droppings due to many years serving in the Peace Corps in the jungle. (Your first inkling of a problem isย the flashing EMT lights and police cars in front of your house all being interviewed by the Nightly News.)

3 If your house is for sale, do not go ahead with the plans for that four-week vacation. If you do, at best you will need to come home early to sign papers. At worst, you will come back after the vacation to find every light on, running water, and wide open doors due to some showings. (You hope you will be able to get rid of that swarm of mosquitoesย which look like they are carrying malaria.)

2 If your house is for sale, do not forget to have your pest and house inspection. If you do forget, at best the potential buyers will have it done, and the finding repairs will be up to you. At worst, the potential buyers will employ “Midnight House Inspection and Pest Control,” whose fee depends on the amount of problems they can find. (You never knew you had a black widow spider infestation did you Bunkey?)

1 If your house is for sale, do not try to do it yourself. If you do, at best you will avoid obvious pitfalls of “for sale by owner.” At worst, you will find yourself in litigation over unforeseen issues which will be resolved by price reductions. (Makes the 7% commission look cheap now, doesn’t it?)


  1. So glad I am not selling my house…..entertaining John, have a good day.

    1. Thanks Michael. You as well.

  2. I think I’ll let my daughter deal with this after I’ve moved onto a more permanent residence.

    1. Good idea. I never want to move again. After 22 times I’ve had it.

      1. Wow – that’s quite a record John. I’ve moved a bunch, but hopefully I am set now.

  3. Not sure why people think that about sour kruat. Definitely more of a pickled compost smell. ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Pickled compost. i love it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Great list, John! After buying our current house from the original owner, I know whenever we get around to selling, we’ll use a realtor. The previous owner was one of those passive-agressive types who tried to stick us with fees that she was supposed to pay, etc.

    It amazes me how some people don’t clean up their house when it’s for sale. I understand the owners might still be living there, but leaving dishes in the sink, clothes strewn about, towels draped every which way in the bathroom … well, they left nothing to the imagination ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Or to the olfactory tour of a dump. Thanks Marie. Have a great Monday. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. LOL! Great list, John! Number six reminded me of the time I hid in a closet when an agent brought someone by at 8:45 pm on a work night…I was in my P.J.s.

    1. Ha ha ha. I hope you stifled your breathing and weren’t discovered. ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. They never knew. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Ha! Loved the one about the parrot. Also #10.
    The house in the picture could be marketed to rock climbers…
    I’ve had horrid experiences with real estate agents. My list would be a little different. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
    Have a marvelous Monday. Mega hugs!

    1. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect way to sell a house. It is all too traumatic. Have a beautiful Monday. Hugs

  7. Haha! Great list. You put some humor into a terrifying subject. Thinking of having a house on the market gives me hives. I’ve done it about six times too many.

    1. Yes. Hives material Thanks Michelle.

  8. Bought my first house in 1978 … and since then, only sold two. Not a process I relish as your list reminds me of a lot! Well done, John.

    1. Yes. The key is how to live in a house and not look like you live there.

  9. What a great list! I’ve worked in the marketing end of the real estate industry for decades and know plenty of Realtors who would LOVE this post (especially #1).

    My personal favorites were #5 and #4

    Ohh, the houses I’ve seen! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I’ll bet. Thanks, Mae Claire. You can share it if you wish.

  10. I’m sure most of us have made one or more of those mistakes. I learned my lesson, took our two small children, and went to stay with my parents. We lived next to a corn field full of mice. Naturally they got in at times. My little son pointed to the closet and said that was where the mousy lived. I tried to put my hand over his mouth but was too late. I can laugh about it now. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ — Suzanne

    1. Kids are the cutest. I hope he said that with Grandma standing close.

  11. Since I’ve been searching for a new home recently, this post will come in handy. Thanks for the smile, John. Hope all is well with you. โ™ก

    1. Good Luck on finding one you like.

      1. I think I finally have, actually. A second look will allow me to know for sure. Thanks

      2. Kick the tires.

  12. 22 home moves, you really are an expert!

    1. Yup. I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. John, thanks for the house selling do-nots! Something to look forward to in a few years when I do sell. Not to worry about sauerkraut smells, I’d bake cookies! A good smell! Have a wonder-filled week! ๐Ÿ’›Elizabeth

    1. You as well Elizabeth. Thanks

  14. We’ve always stripped and then staged any houses we’ve sold. For some reason, lived-in doesn’t sale.

    1. Yes we too. Thanks

  15. Sorry I’m running behind this week, John. Domer just left, and I’m playing catch-up yet again. Sigh. But really, it was totally worth it having him home! Great advice here, too.

    1. Hope you enjoyed the visit. It sounds like you did. Thanks for the comment. (never too late)

  16. All good advice, especially #6, even if everything else is perfect. Selling a home is hard work. I am glad that we are not planning on selling for now.

    1. I’m so glad We aren’t either. Thanks

  17. You should be a realtor, John.

    1. I play one on TV

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