BAM Key Details:

  • According to a new Zillow® survey, 84% of Americans who sold a home for the first time in the past two years have regrets. 
  • The top four regrets of first-time sellers include decisions regarding pricing, online impressions, timing and home improvements. 

In the midst of a red-hot seller’s market, where multiple offers, over-ask bids, and waived contingencies were the norm, it’s hard to believe anyone would regret selling their home over the past two years.

Yet a recent Zillow® survey found that a staggering 84% of first-time sellers wish they made different choices when selling their homes.

This begs the question: with such a strong market, what could possibly be the source of these regrets about selling? 

Keep reading to learn the biggest of first-time sellers.

Regret #1: Pricing Incorrectly

Once sellers start seeing the offers roll in, they often think they priced the home too low. It’s the number one regret for first-time sellers over the past two years, with 39% wishing they had set a higher list price to begin. 

But we’re in a different market today than we were two years ago. With a median time on market at 73 days nationwide, well-priced listings are the fastest to go under contract at 31 days. In addition, 22% of listings had a price cut in January, signaling that some sellers are starting off too high with their list prices. 

So while it may be tempting for sellers to aim for a higher listing price, it could hurt their chances of getting the best offer for their home. It’s critical to educate consumers about the most current stats for your market, so they don’t have regrets about pricing down the road. 

This spring’s sellers are more likely to regret pricing their home too high. The price their neighbor commanded a year ago may no longer be realistic. They need to adjust their expectations if they want to avoid having their home linger on the market. It’s more important than ever for sellers to rely on the advice of a great local agent who understands their neighborhood and has a winning pricing strategy.

Nicole Bachaud

Senior Economist, Zillow

Regret #2: Bad Online Impressions

Buyers rely on listing photos and videos more than ever before. So if a property doesn’t make a great first impression online, it’s more likely to be overlooked by potential buyers.

The vast majority (87%) of first-time home sellers think some type of digital marketing could have helped them get a higher sale price. Among their options, 39% think better listing photos could have made a difference, while 25% believe a virtual tour should have been included. 

As a listing agent, be sure that the media package you offer sellers is of the highest quality. And professional listing photos are just the starting point—drone photography, floor plans, and 3D virtual tours help gain up to 69% more page views and 80% more saves on Zillow.

Regret #3: Wrong Timing

Perhaps surprisingly, 25% of first-time sellers wish they had listed their home at a different time. 

This can be due to personal circumstances, but a large stressor for sellers is timing the sale of one property with the purchase of a new one. More than one-third (36%) wish they knew just how quickly their home would sell. 

Always make sure your sellers have a plan—and a backup plan—of where they will move after their home goes under contract.

Regret #4: Not Making Home Improvements

Repairs don’t always have a high ROI—but the right home improvements can make a big difference. Of the first-time sellers surveyed, 25% think they could have gotten a higher price if they had invested in more home improvements. 

Be sure to review any projects your sellers are thinking about making, and show them the data on ROI for each. Often, the simplest improvements make the biggest difference.

The right projects can pay off. Sellers need to think strategically about their return on investment before diving into repairs and renovations. Landscaping, interior painting and carpet cleaning are the most commonly completed seller projects for good reason. They boost online curb appeal and send a powerful signal to a buyer that a home is well-maintained.

Amanda Pendleton

Home Trends Expert, Zillow

Takeaways for Agents

When sellers have regrets during a seller’s market, it points to the need for more support through the home selling process. We don’t know whether the sellers in the Zillow survey chose to ignore the advice of their agent, were working with the wrong agent or trying to sell on their own. 

But we do know that after the sale, they were left with regret. 

This underscores the importance of educating consumers about the complexities of selling a home. An experienced agent can help sellers avoid common pitfalls, navigate negotiations, and make informed decisions based on the most up-to-date market conditions. 

With lawsuits on the rise, it’s clear buyers and sellers are feeling remorse in today’s market. It’s up to you to ensure your clients understand their options every step of the way.