Sellers Don't Always Take Recommended Path

What does it take to sell a home successfully? Sellers and real estate practitioners have their own ideas.

November 1, 2005

Homesellers and their real estate practitioners usually share the goal of a quick and profitable sale, yet they don’t always agree on what it takes to get there, according to the findings of a recent survey.

For starters, many sellers aren’t planning very far ahead for putting their home on the market—something that real estate practitioners warn against. Forty-four percent of 100 practitioners who were surveyed say they recommend that clients start thinking about the selling process two to three months ahead of time, but only 23 percent of the 500 sellers surveyed say they follow that advice.

Instead, roughly one of every five sellers say they started thinking about the process just two to three weeks in advance, and 11 percent waited until the home actually hit the market. To be fair, a good portion of the respondents did see the value of planning ahead, with 36 percent saying they start thinking about the sale six months or more in advance.

The survey—commissioned by, a unit of Lending Tree Inc.—sought to find out what licensed real estate practitioners and sellers consider as key factors when selling a home. Results were released in October.

When it comes to getting the property ready for sale, 44 percent of real estate practitioners said the most important thing to do is to hire an inspector to point out needed repairs and then have them fixed, but only 27 percent of sellers agreed. Instead, 41 percent of sellers said that spackling holes and painting the walls take top priority.

However, both groups cited the kitchen as the room prospective buyers care most about, and both said enhancing curb appeal is most important for getting the exterior of a home ready for the market. They also concurred that spring is the best time to sell.

For pricing the home, two-thirds—64 percent—of practitioners said sellers should ask for 5 percent to 10 percent above what they would accept. Just more than half of sellers agreed.

Fifty-two percent of practitioners said sellers should follow their advice for setting the asking price. While 35 percent of sellers said they determined price by comparing their home with others in the neighborhood, a solid 27 percent said they relied on their real estate practitioner.

A solid 65 percent of sellers said they hired a real estate practitioner during their last sale, compared with 28 percent who sold it on their own, and 7 percent who used a limited-service company. In a good sign for practitioners, the majority of sellers said they would hire a practitioner again in the future.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.