5 Questions Home Sellers Botch Most

When you decide to sell your property, be it to relocate, to upsize or downsize, or for practically any reason, you’ll have to put your thinking-cap on because there are going to be a lot of questions to answer. It will start with your search for a listing agent, when you are trying to find a great marketing partner. After that, it will be the listing agent asking the questions.

Because of the various laws associated with real estate sales, particularly those which are specifically designed to protect consumers, you’ll have to give open, honest answers. The fact of the matter is when you put your residence up for sale, you’re making a public declaration and have to be accurate about the information you provide.

Too often, sellers try to conceal defects, even such things as a home’s history, and other problems in order to facilitate the transaction. It isn’t uncommon for sellers to be less than forthcoming because it could put the sale in danger. What they fail to realize is that doing so will likely be far more costly in the long run.


Every home has its issues. Regardless of age, size, and location, problems exist within the confines of every property, either inside or out. It could be a small problem, like broken sprinkler head or an annoyance, such as a drain which clogs regularly. It could also be big, like cracks in the foundation, a leaking roof, or a dying central air conditioning unit.

“Agents almost always have their sellers leave the property during showings so that they won’t hover over prospective buyers, but also so they don’t reveal information that would help the buyer negotiate a better price. While you may never meet a home seller face-to-face, these are important to keep in mind throughout the whole house hunting process. There is a lot of information that is not on the listing. Every property has some little quirks that the seller hopes you don’t discover. Some are minor. Others could cost you big bucks down the line. In a perfect world, owners would fess up and tell all when they fill out the property condition disclosure statements that most states require.” —Trulia.com

The reality is those problems, small and large are just part of the equation. When potential buyers walk into your home, they are quick to notice any defects. So, that little crack in the corner of the bathroom vanity becomes a very big negative. Unfortunately, buyers are typically unable to get past things which are easily fixed; paint color is one, for instance. That’s why nearly every article about staging a home or getting it ready for sale includes painting walls with neutral colors. Home sellers have to pay attention to details because buyers will certainly do so.


Speaking of buyers, you’ll probably be asked one or more of the following questions, either directly or through an agent and you should be ready to answer them without hesitation:

  1. Why are you selling? This sounds like an innocent, run-of-the-mill question but it’s actually one that can cause you to lose money on the sale. If you are under a time crunch, that certainly won’t work in your favor, so be careful on how you phrase your answer. You don’t have to be coy or even deceptive, just choose your words wisely.
  2. Have you made any recent updates? The main reason this question is asked is twofold. One is to find out if there was an underlying issue which caused a problem and the other is to learn if you made improvements without a permit.
  3. Are there any repairs needed? This is a direct question and deserves a direct, honest answer, otherwise, you are setting yourself up for trouble. If there are needed repairs, say so and be prepared to negotiate about which party will be responsible for handling said repairs.
  4. What’s the neighborhood like during commute times? This is a question experienced buyers’ agents and shrewd buyers ask because it’s going to be a big part of the final decision to put-in a purchase offer. Here again, be upfront and honest because buyers who really want to know will get in-the-know by visiting during those times.
  5. How long have you lived in the house? This question is easily answered by going to the property tax appraiser’s office and doing a quick and simple search. The reason it’s being asked is for an ulterior motive. Answer it with brevity, because you might unwittingly say something that will cause a potential buyer to have second thoughts.

Another question you might be asked is the final selling price of a home on the same block that’s similar to yours. Of course, this is to size-up and compare between your listing price and the neighbor’s selling price.