The 9 biggest mistakes people make when they try to sell their homes, according to real-estate agents

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  • Business Insider asked real-estate agents around the country about what it's really like working in their industry.
  • We asked agents about the top mistakes people make when trying to sell their homes.
  • The biggest mistake a seller can make is overpricing their home, according to most of the agents.
  • Other common mistakes include not decluttering the home before listing and failing to realize that some furnishings are too taste-specific to appeal to most buyers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Business Insider asked real-estate agents around the country about what it's really like working in the industry, what they wish they could tell their clients, and the biggest mistakes people make when trying to sell their homes.

Almost every single agent we talked to said the biggest mistake sellers make is overpricing their home.

Other common mistakes include not decluttering the home before listing and failing to realize that some furnishings are too taste-specific to appeal to most buyers.

Here are nine of the biggest mistakes people can make when trying to sell their home, according to real-estate agents.

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1. Overpricing the home.

1. Overpricing the home.

The biggest mistake people can make when trying to sell their home is overpricing it, according to almost every real-estate agent we talked to.

"The best thing you can do is price at fair market value or just below fair market value, but when you overprice a property you miss out on all of the buyers who see it during the first month on the market and then over time you reduce the price until it sells," Spencer Cutler of Corcoran, who sells homes in New York City with an average price of $6 million, told Business Insider. "It wastes time, effort, and sometimes nets you less money than if you priced it correctly to begin with."

Michael Hahn of Compass, who sells $1 million homes in New York, said sellers often make the mistake of overpricing their home in order to leave room for negotiating.

"It's better to price at the market level or even slightly under to yield the most profit in the end," Hahn said.

2. Failing to accept that not everyone has the same taste they do.

2. Failing to accept that not everyone has the same taste they do.

"The inability to step back from one's own personal asset is very normal, but it can be damaging when selling a home," Maggie Ross of Compass, who sells homes in Brooklyn at an average price of $2 million, told Business Insider. "Sellers often think that their subjective taste will be appreciated by the wider market, and that's not the case."

3. Not paying attention to the market.

3. Not paying attention to the market.

Tim Swearingen of Coldwell Banker Bain in Washington and Oregon, who sells homes priced at $1.2 million on average, says one major mistake sellers make is not paying attention to market conditions.

"Good brokerages have weekly meetings about the changes in [the] market and how that affects every end of the housing spectrum," Swearingen said. "Dips, increase and other changes can greatly affect how the sale of your home can change and how people react to your property — your broker is at the front lines when putting a deal together and we are constantly getting feedback that wouldn't be appropriate to share with you."

4. Not choosing the right agent.

4. Not choosing the right agent.

Not choosing the right real-estate agent to work with can be one of the biggest makes a home seller can make.

"Don't choose an agent just because you know them — make sure you do some research and interview multiple agents that specialize in your type of home and/or neighborhood," Adam Feinberg, an agent at Anchor NYC who sells homes with an average price of $725,000, told Business Insider.

Brian K. Lewis of Compass, who sells $2 million to $10 million homes in New York City, says the best agent is one who has access to top-tier marketing and connections in the brokerage community.

"Most sales happen with a participating buyer's agent on the other side," Lewis said. "If the agent that a seller hires is good, experienced, has a healthy ad budget, and has a solid track record and a robust marketing campaign, that is wonderful. However, it's important to also ensure that the agent is well-liked and respected — and easy to deal with — in the eyes of their industry."

5. Not using an agent at all.

5. Not using an agent at all.

Not using an agent to help sell their home is yet another common mistake people make when trying to sell their home, Victoria Shtainer, who sells homes in New York in the $4 million to $10 million price range, told Business Insider.

6. Keeping décor that's too taste-specific.

6. Keeping décor that's too taste-specific.

Another common mistake is having furniture that's "too specific," according to Barnett.

"The biggest mistake a seller makes is having furniture that is too specific," Barnett said. "A seller could have a beautifully renovated home, but if the buyer doesn't like the furniture, it can negatively impact their perception. It's best to keep furniture minimal and neutral so buyers can focus on the home."

7. Not decluttering the home before listing.

7. Not decluttering the home before listing.

"The biggest mistake a seller makes is not decluttering their home prior to listing," Jared Barnett of Compass, who sells homes from $2 million to $5 million in New York City, told Business Insider. "Too much furniture makes a room feel small, giving buyers a hard time envisioning the potential of the space."

8. Failing to make their home as beautiful as possible.

8. Failing to make their home as beautiful as possible.

Robin Kencel of The Robin Kencel Group at Compass in Connecticut, who sells homes between $500,000 and $28 million, said a big mistake is when sellers don't put themselves in the minds of the buyers and fail to make sure their home presents as beautifully as possible.

"I am fastidious (some sellers would say 'torturous') to be sure that every room is as organized as it can be and looking beautiful, which could include painting rooms, editing out furniture, changing out old carpets, etc," Kencel said. "Unless you are positioning your property with an aggressive price and selling it 'as is,' taking the time to make that strong first impression is well worth it."

9. Not staging the home.

9. Not staging the home.

"Sellers think buyers can 'see' past clutter and an old paint job," says Martin Eiden, an agent who sells homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn for between $700,000 and $7 million. "A fresh coat of paint, staging, and styling is essential."

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