Massachusetts Real Estate


Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Massachusetts Home


Metrowest MassachusettsAs a Realtor representing home sellers in numerous towns throughout Metrowest Massachusetts over the last twenty two years, I have found that there are certain obstacles that will make a home much more difficult to sell.

The following information provides some insight on how to make your home sale go a lot smoother.

Some of the thoughts and information provided has been borrowed with permission from a sharp cookie and friend, Jason Crouch who covers Austin Texas Real Estate.




Frankly, the price is the most important factor in getting your Massachusetts home sold, especially with other underlying economic factors affecting consumer confidence.  One of the best ways to prevent your home from selling quickly, or at all, is to list it at a price that the market will not bear.  Most people don't like to overpay for any kind of purchase, never mind the purchase of your home.

This is a sensitive issue for most people, because we tend to get emotionally involved with our homes.  Many people think of their homes as an extension of themselves and their lives.  This is partially true, because our homes are the places where some of the most important events of our lives occur:  the baby's first steps, holidays and time with family, cooking and family meals.

While this attitude is understandable, when it comes time to sell your home, it's necessary to take a different view.  A home sale is a business transaction.  Your home, which you value so highly, and may even still somehow see as "basically new," will not be seen as such to potential buyers who are looking for a home in excellent condition, in a good location at a reasonable price.

Keep in mind that market value is determined by what a motivated and qualified buyer is willing to pay for your home, not simply what you feel it should be worth. Carefully looking at comparable sales is very important.




I have had clients who want to get everything perfect before selling, which is a problem in and of itself, but more often as agents we see deferred maintenance items on homes that we are looking to list and sell. 

"What the heck is deferred maintenance?"

What this means is that sellers are saving money in the short-term by allowing things to remain broken, but when it's time to sell, it's time to fix these items.  It's probably best to put yourself in the buyer's shoes for a moment - would you like to buy a home with problems that the seller refused to fix?  Perhaps if it was priced well under market, but otherwise you wouldn't. Homes that are in poor shape tend to get severely penalized when it comes time to sell.

Another common trait among sellers that we have worked with over the years is the idea that you have negotiated a fair price, so the buyer shouldn't ask for any repairs.  Again, put yourself on the other side of the deal.  While the buyer may be thinking this way, the more likely scenario is that they want the right price AND the right condition. Of course on the other side of the coin, a good Realtor is there to protect your interests as well. As a home seller the last thing you want is a 2nd round of negotiations after the home inspection for items that were clearly visible prior to the inspection. In other words we won't be negotiating about the old carpets in the bedrooms!



This one is certainly more difficult in some cases than in others.  Every once in awhile, I see homes that are "showing ready", but usually they need some help preparing to show.  First and foremost, de-clutter!  You may be able to throw away a lot of things, or you may need to rent a storage unit, or both if you are in a serious clutter zone.  Regardless, this is an absolute necessity in a competitive market.  Your agent can usually help with some good ideas, or you may wish to hire a professional home stager (recommended if you can find a good one who is reasonably priced).  

As a side note, you want to make your home as neutral as possible, in order to appeal to the broadest spectrum of buyers.  Home builders have known this for years, which is why they hire professional decorators to assist with the design and staging details.  You want to eliminate any odd decor items that may appeal to your unique sense of style, but which may appear strange to buyers. Earth tones always work well.




I  have worked on a  few Real Estate sales over the years ago that had minor issues, yet the sale was almost blown over something that may have cost $500. 

When you are selling your home, keep the big picture in mind rather than allowing yourself to get hung up on something small.  Is it really worth blowing your sale over something small or over a cheap repair? 






As I mentioned above, a home sale is really just a business transaction, although it can often be difficult to make this distinction when you have so much of yourself invested in your home.  I have had a number of occasions when my clients did not personally like the people buying their home, but I have to gently remind them that they will not have to deal with them very long, and then they can move on with their lives.  Don't allow your emotions to prevent you from getting your home sold.  If you don't like the buyers, it really doesn't matter, as long as the terms are agreeable. 


Keep the big picture in mind and move forward.



Nationally, over 80% of the homes listed "for sale by owner" end up listing the property with an agent.  Clearly, this is a very low success rate.  To be sure, there are exceptions, such as when you are in a VERY hot area with good drive-by traffic.  Statistically, you actually stand a better chance of opening a new restaurant than you do of selling your own home.


If you do decide to "go it alone", keep in mind that you are responsible for screening everyone that sees the house, and for being available during the day for showings.  You also need to familiarize yourself with the offer and purchase and sale contracts.  Add to this the relatively new challenge of tighter mortgage guidelines (Can this buyer truly qualify to buy the home?). 

These are all details that your agent can and will handle for you.




If you choose the wrong person to list your home, this is something that is difficult to overcome during the sales process.  If the agent has a bad, pushy or argumentative personality, no matter how experienced they are, RUN the other way!  Having a dishonest agent is another terrible situation to be in as a seller.

Some agents will mislead you by giving you an inflated value for your home in order to get you to list the home with them, or they may try to scare you into thinking that your home won't sell at all unless you drop the price dramatically.

Primarily, you want someone who is friendly, loyal, honest, and who has your best needs in mind. Knowledge of the market is very important - make sure you understand what homes you are competing with and which homes have recently sold. The homes sold being the most important. 

Lastly, an agent with good marketing skills is worth their weight in gold. Make sure the Realtor you choose knows how to market your home online - This is critical. When interviewing a Real Estate agent Google their name. You should see pages and pages of results. If not you may want to continue to look elsewhere...Why? If a Realtor does not know how to market themselves, how could you possibly expect them to do a good job marketing your home!



NOT TRUSTING YOUR AGENT (unless it's the guy above)

Now that you have hired the CORRECT agent, trust them to do their job, unless you are given a strong reason to think otherwise.  This includes allowing the agents to communicate on your behalf, rather than attempting to speak directly with the buyers.  In some cases, it is necessary or even advisable for this to occur, but usually it doesn't help matters, especially during the negotiations.

In addition to selling lots of homes, I have watched a bunch of the home-selling shows on TV, and time and time again, I am able to predict the outcome (price, problems, etc.).  This comes from experience, and it is something difficult to teach or to learn from a book.  Trust that the advise your agent gives you is solid, as this is what they do every day.



Selling with bad timing can happen at least three different ways:

a. you are selling and you don't know where you are going,

b. you put your home on the market immediately before you have to move, or

c. you are selling at the wrong time of year. 

If you have no idea where you are going to buy next, it's probably not great to put your home on the market, unless you simply cannot afford your home anymore. The inevitable outcome of listing too soon is that you will receive an offer from someone who wants to move in right away, and you are forced to either reject the offer or move to temporary housing, then move again when you find the right home.  If you are like me, you don't enjoy moving, so why put additional stress on yourself?

If you are building a home with a particular time line in mind, or if you are starting a new job and you have some time to prepare, don't wait until it's too late to get your home listed.  You don't want to leave the home vacant or worse have two house payments while you are trying to sell.  It's never too early to contact an agent and ask when you should list, with your particular needs and timing.

We sometimes have clients who spend too much time getting their homes ready to sell, and they miss the big selling window in our market.  Don't spend an inordinate amount of time preparing your home and end up missing the primary selling season in your area. Here in Massachusetts the best time to sell a home is in the Spring.



This is a critical point: buyers DO NOT work around your ideal schedule. If it is a reasonable time of day (i.e. you are awake and most normal people also are), LET THEM LOOK.  Even if things are in disarray, LET THEM LOOK.  Even if the buyer's agent doesn't give you any notice, LET THEM LOOK.  Although I always try to prepare for showings the day before they happen (or at least several hours ahead of time), there are times when a buyer will spot a sign and ask about a particular home that is not on the list.  Sometimes, they buy this home.  Keep that in mind when you have your home listed. 


Another good point which warrants mentioning here is to get out of the house when buyers are looking.  Preferably, this means going for a walk or going to run errands, but at the very least, go outside and give them some privacy while they are looking with their agent.  Buyers never feel at ease when you are in the home hovering around them.  LET THEM LOOK on their terms.  If you are concerned about valuables, lock them up somewhere.





This is another area where having a good agent comes into play.  A good quality agent will prevent you from buying something that is not a wise decision (near a hazardous waste site, close to a loud highway, etc.).  If you can make a smart decision on your purchase, when it is time to sell, you will be much happier.  You can't change the location of your home once you have made the purchase. 




The above information on the top 10 mistakes to avoid when selling your Massachusetts home wasRE/MAX Executive Realty Hopkinton MA provided by Bill Gassett, the team leader for the #4 RE/MAX Team in Massachusetts in 2007. Bill can be reached via email at or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 22+ Years. Bill's office is conveniently located in the center of Hopkinton MA at 77 Main Street.

I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! I would welcome the opportunity to earn your business.

For Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate and homes see Metrowest Mass Real Estate. Want to have MLS access to beat other buyers to your dream home? Sign up with no obligation at my MLS Property Finder Site.

I service the following towns in Metrowest Massachusetts: Hopkinton, Milford, Upton, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Mendon, Hopedale, Medway, Grafton, Northbridge, Uxbridge, Franklin, Douglas, and Framingham MA.

Click here to view Bill Gassett's Real Estate profile.



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Building lasting relationships by helping people move in and out of Metrowest Massachusetts for the last 22 years.

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comment balloon 54 commentsBill Gassett • October 29 2008 08:09AM


Hi Bill...Great Post. You put and lot of time and effort into writingthis very informative Post for your consumers in Metrowest Massachusetts.

Well Done, thanks for sharing from both you and Jason.

Posted by Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation, Accredited Real Estate Consultant (RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

This is good.

I don't believe that price alone works in a vacume.  Price based on similarly situated properties in the area plus condition seem to work.

The thing mission from the Zillow and now property value models is condition.  But, that's another thorn in my side. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Fred - Thank you for the compliment. I am sure this applies everywhere. It is more or less a Real Estate guide for those that wish to sell their home in a timely manner.

Lenn - Thank you. It seems that homes that are in less than perfect condition today get punished more than it would take to fix them up. For example if I know something is going to cost $5000 to upgrade it seems a buyer will look for a credit of $8000 - $10,000. Buyer's in a challenging market do not want to deal with anything and in fairness to them they usually don't have to because they have CHOICES.

Melissa - Thank you very much. I appreciate your compliment. You right this pertains to pretty much anywhere around the county.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill - Great advice for sellers in your town and mine...  I can't stress the importance of 'MAINTENANCE'... no one can let their property go and expect that buyers won't notice...  Annual maintenance is part of home ownership.

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) almost 11 years ago

Debbie - Without a doubt maintenance is critical especially in a challenging market. Buyers have too many choices these days. I have found that the homes that have work needed will get punished more in the market place than the actual cost to fix the problems.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

morning Bill, speaking for the consumers, thx for the "everything I need to know before selling my home in today's market". I love your detailed, realistic overview. A must read for any seller in any market, really well done!

Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... ( almost 11 years ago

Bill- Great post with some really good tips and examples of their importance.  I always like to tell people that the best time to sell is when they're ready and commited to do so.  Yes, there are market fluctuations and certain times might be better than others in a perfect world.  But every season has it's benefits and drawbacks and finding the agent that can help the seller maximize the benefits and minimize the drawbacks is the key. (imho)  I do agree that it's important for sellers to understand timing and that procrastinating or "overimproving" could have a negative impact for them moving forward.

Posted by Matt Moxhay, Moorestown Real Estate (Prudential Fox & Roach) almost 11 years ago

Marti - Thanks Marti. I am glad you found my selling tips useful!

Matt - Thank you very much. Timing is everything in Real Estate but homes do sell throughout the year. Like you mention every season has it's benefits. Here in Massachusetts the Spring is recognized as the best selling season because everything looks the best and statistically speaking there are always more homes sold. I always tell people though that eventhough in the Winter the are less homes sold does not mean it is a bad time. In the Winter there will typically be less competition and more serious buyers in the market place.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill - Thanks for the (partial) re-blog.  I'm glad you enjoyed my post so much.  I hope you have a great week!

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) almost 11 years ago

Bill   LOL  and so true  Love the photos  so good it should be a link on your website ! 

Posted by Karen Ann Martin, Realtor Fall River Westport MA Real Estate Agent (Safe Harbor Realty ) almost 11 years ago

Jason - Your welcome! The information is great and applies to most markets throughout the country.

Karen - Thanks. I am going to have this on my website so great minds think alike:)

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill - I've learned so much of this from my time here on AR.  That Crouch is a pretty smart chap, eh.  You've proven to be rather high up there on the intellectual scale as well.  Great info for residents in any area.

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) almost 11 years ago

Thanks Jason. Learning new things in Real Estate is something that is very worth while. Eventhough I have been in the business for 22 years I am constantly learning new things.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill, this is a terrific blog.  If you don't mind, I'd like to link to this one myself - it's applicable for any market - from Massachusetts to PA to Alaska!

Posted by Karen Rice, Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales (Davis R. Chant, REALTORS) almost 11 years ago

Bill, WOW, What a great post. I especially love the picture of the "wrong Realtor". :0)

Posted by Mana Tulberg, Real Estate Agent - Camarillo CA (805 County Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Bill, I think that you have hit on points that can be for any city. Great information.

Posted by Danny Thornton, WordPress Guru (R & D Art) almost 11 years ago


This is "the bomb" post!!  You've so explained it to the tee!  And you've added great images too!!  I can see that any seller would appreciate this article!  You should put it in your local paper!

Posted by Yvette Smith, Realtor In Williamsburg VA, Homes for Sale (LONG & FOSTER) almost 11 years ago

Karen - Please do. I would be honored that you find it worthy to link to:)

Thanks Mana - Being a Realtor in the business for many years, I think we have all encountered that guy at one point or another:) Picking an agent is less important when the market is one fire. When the market is challenging, however, picking the right Realtor is VERY important.

Danny - Thanks very much.

Yvette - I appreciate that very much. I have added this information to my website. Having it in the local newspaper would be great.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago


Another great post and you've really addressed KEY points that really need to be taken into consideration.  These photos are great at telling the story.  Clients could easily print this as an informative handout.

Amber Gardner

Posted by Jason & Amber Gardner, We're Committed to Your Success! (Hasson Company, Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Amber - Thank you. The photos were my favorite part of making this Real Estate post.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill, Your blog is really great!  You are a terrific role model for us. 

Posted by Pat Laracy Baker, Pat Baker Dream Home Maker (Realty Executives Boston West) almost 11 years ago

Pat - Thanks a bunch. Coming from a Realtor locally, that means a lot to me!

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

All points are right on - however I am having a problem recommending staging and repairs etc. for several homes because they would be better off selling "as is" even if it is not a foreclosure--they just won't get their money back or, at best, break even.  It seems best to just price it lower (and picking the right realtor to get it on the internet). 

Posted by Cathy Tishhouse, Royal Oak Real Estate (RE/MAX Showcase Homes) almost 11 years ago

Cathy - There are a few circumstances where it would not be prudent to invest more money back into a property. You make a valid point with your comments. A good Realtor as you know, will be able to determine this for a potential home seller.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Great post as always. Love the photos on this one!

Posted by Samantha Nichols, Massachusetts Real Estate Specialist (ERA Belsito and Associates) almost 11 years ago

Sam - Thank you. Putting together the photos with this Real Estate advice was very enjoyable. I was hoping the pictures would accentuate the message:)

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago


There is a lot of great information that you have provided to your prospective clients.  It shows that you are an extremely knowledgeable real estate consultant.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) almost 11 years ago

bill - This is a great post.  It really says it all.  Would you mind if I linked to it from my other blog?  It is something that we would like all of our clients to read and pay attention to.

Posted by Pam Dent, REALTORĀ® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse (Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

You already know how brilliant this (and you) I don't need to tell you...but I will anyway! This is a very comprehensive list of what to do and what not to do. I remember a transaction in my office (another agent) that fell apart over $250. The commission was like $6000 for one side. I asked the buyer's agent why she didn't just pay the $250 to get it closed. She told me because it was her $250. YEAH...but it didn't close! So...Ms. Agent did not see 'her' $250 or any other part of the $6000. This is GREAT STUFF! GBU!

Posted by Elizabeth Nieves, Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team (The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group) almost 11 years ago

Christine I really appreciate your compliments. With 22 years under my belt I have learned a few tricks over the years.

Pam - You can certainly link to this post. I am honored that you think it is link worthy:)

Elizabeth - It always amazes me when I hear stories of Realtors making such foolish decisions. Talk about cutting your nose off despite your face. $250 is dinner on two weekend nights...big deal. I have made a very good income as a realtor over the years. Rarely does money ever come into the decision making process. Just as my recommendation states to a home seller.... I would never ever let a deal die over a few hundred dollars!!

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill - what a great fun way to get some serious stuff across to Sellers! And with about 25 others, I love the photos!

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 11 years ago

Sharon - I think this has been the funnest post I have made due to the pictures. These photos certainly help explain the advice especially the one of the Realtor:)

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill - This post is a winning combination of the important points you addressed and mixing in a litle humor with the visuals using the photos.  Great job on your part (and a little of Jason's) putting this together.

Posted by Julie Dumaine-Russell (RE/MAX Alliance) almost 11 years ago


These are ten very good points my friend.  What about selling for the wrong reason(s)?

Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) almost 11 years ago

hey Bill, what a ton of great info---and illustrations to boot! You are doing an outstanding job of educating your clients...hope you have a plan for crowd control :-)

Posted by Mara Hawks, Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL (First Realty Auburn ) almost 11 years ago

Donna - This was one of the funnest articles I have made to date. I guess after twenty two years seeing these mistakes occur over and over has caused me to look at the humerous side of things.

Don - Good point...there are times when people do sell for the wrong reasons and then regret it later.

Mara - Thank you very much I appreciate it.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill, great article from both you and Jason. Excellent precise information for anyone selling their home. Now, how about a re-blog of a re-blog? I would love to let readers in my area see such a great article.

Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) almost 11 years ago

Gena - Thank you very much. How about creating a post and linking to the article for reference?

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Bill, I thought that might be your response:)

Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) almost 11 years ago

Bill - great post. I always say that the secret to selling a home is 90% price. and the other 10% , well its price!

Posted by James Wexler ( almost 11 years ago

James - I would agree with you on that!! If you do not price your home properly much of the efforts of a Realtor will go for naught. An improper price is the hardest obstacle to the sale of any product and certainly a home.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Hi Bill - Great material, great reminders, great points but especially great pictures.  I was laughing out loud at their appropriateness.

Gail MacMillan Titusville Fl Real Estate

Posted by Gail MacMillan almost 11 years ago

Gail I would have to agree with you that the pictures help with the Real Estate advice immensely:)

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Barbara - Thanks a bunch. Much appreciated.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Why limit this to Massachusetts, this is great advice with a very large giggle from me down South and could apply everywhere, thanks!

Posted by Jane Page Thompson (Aiken Properties) almost 11 years ago

Jane you are right about that this Real Estate advice would apply anywhere. I am glad you got a chuckle out of it.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

This is an amazing post! You pretty much hit every single big issue. What a great way to prepare your sellers for what's to come. I'm just disappointed there's not a re-blog button! Keep up the good posting.

Posted by Kristen Wahl, CBR (Re/Max Plus) almost 11 years ago

Kristen thank you very much for the compliments. This post about mistakes to avoid when selling your home is one of my favorite articles I have ever written.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Good information to share with propspective clients.

Posted by Kathleen Lordbock, Keller Williams Realty Professionals (Keller Williams Realty Professionals) over 10 years ago

Kathleen - If every seller followed all these home selling tips there would be a lot more homes selling in a timely fashion.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 10 years ago

This is a great post and would benefit anyone thinking of selling.

I also wish you had a re-blog button on it. 

Posted by Charles Buholzer - Ribbon Gift and Incentive Consultant over 10 years ago

Charles - Thanks for the compliments on my article about mistakes to avoid when selling a home. I will add the re-blog feature for you.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 10 years ago

These are universal truths, whether you are in MA or anywhere.

Posted by Michael Sosnowski over 9 years ago

No doubt about it Michael!

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 9 years ago

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