House Marketing Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home

Fully Renovated House in Quebec, Canada
Photo: Anatoli Igolkin / Getty Images

When real estate markets cool down, inventory typically increases, and the number of buyers decreases. Slowing market conditions make it more difficult to sell homes, yet some sales still take place.

Why do some homes get offers while others sit on the market? The answer may have very little to do with the home itself, as many real estate agents might claim. In some cases, it lies within the poor quality of the marketing efforts.

The following mistakes get repeated over and over by both sellers and agents. Don't let them happen to you.

Uploading Poorly Taken Photographs Online

Pictures speak volumes and often get noticed before the written word. Since they're the first things a potential buyer will see, why leave a bad first impression? The job of photos is to entice the buyer to want to see more of the home in person.

You don't want to give potential buyers a reason to cross the home off their list, so be sure to avoid publishing photos like these:

  • Dark photos with rooms' drapes or blinds closed
  • Photos turned sideways
  • Photos of cluttered rooms
  • Uncropped photos with unnecessary elements in the pictures
  • Photos that show pets sleeping on the sofa
  • Unflattering photos of only the front of the house
  • Photos that haven't been adjusted for online viewing

Withholding Important Information or Descriptive Comments

When there are many homes on the market, simply providing a property address and noting the number of bedrooms and baths is insufficient information for a home buyer. It says nothing about why a potential buyer should make an appointment to see the home, however.


Good marketing tells a buyer why a particular home is better than the dozens of others on the market.

To accomplish this, sellers should focus on:

  • What makes the home unique
  • The motivating factor that made the seller buy the home in the first place
  • How a perceived negative factor can be addressed to accentuate its positive attributes

Underestimating the Importance of Broker/Agent Previews

Just like buyers, agents don't have the time to look at every home on the market. Think about what can you do to entice them to come to see yours. Agents are more likely to sell a house they have toured, so sellers can benefit from offering things that attract selling agents.

  • Provide catered lunches, even beyond the ordinary sandwiches and bottled water. Be creative with culinary selections, because food always motivates.
  • Offer drawings for small gifts or gift certificates.
  • Give online gift certificates that can be immediately emailed.

Restricting Access for Showings

If an agent can't easily show your home, they will show another agent's more readily available listing instead. Don't give an agent a reason to pass up your home. Any of these issues can hamper showings:

  • No lockbox on the property
  • Restricted hours available for showing
  • Showings require 24-hour notice
  • Showings allowed by appointment only 

Offering a Lower Commission Than Other Listings

It's not that agents are greedy creatures who show only high-fee listings, though some are highly motivated by the prospective income. Agents tend to view lower-commissioned listings as those that the seller isn't very motivated to sell.


If the seller isn't motivated, an agent might assume that the seller isn't willing to negotiate on price. In slowly moving markets especially, buyers expect to negotiate, and agents whose buyers want to negotiate will show only listings where negotiation is possible.

Not Including Buyer Incentives

An incentive doesn't need to cost the seller anything if the home price is structured to account for the incentive. Here are some typical incentives:

  • A certain dollar-amount credit toward the buyer's closing costs
  • A home protection plan
  • Pre-paid homeowners' association fees for a year
  • A buy-down mortgage interest rate
  • Weekend getaway for two

Saying No to Advertising

You can't keep your home sale a secret and still expect to sell it. Whether you pay for advertising or your agent does, you need to let everyone know that it's for sale. The best way to do that is to advertise. Here are some ideas for advertising in the digital age:

  • List your home through online portals and classified ad websites.
  • Promote it on social media to reach a large audience.
  • Consider creating a property website specifically for your home.

Saying No to Virtual Tours

Virtual tours are becoming more and more important. There is no better way to initially view a new potential home than in the comfort of one's pajamas, in front of the computer, looking at a 360-degree or 3-D tour. Some buyers won't even consider a property listing if it doesn't include a virtual tour. Basic requirements are:

  • A minimum of two spins—and preferably more if space lends itself.
  • High-resolution or HD photos that buyers can print or save to their computer.
  • Ability to share photos so buyers can send the pictures to friends and family.
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