by Carlos Herrera May 10, 2023

Four common regrets from first-time home sellers

Nearly 90% of sellers in America have regrets about how they conducted their first home sale, according to a new Zillow survey. Many feel they could have made a higher profit if they’d made better decisions. But are those regrets valid?

The survey identified four common regrets among first-time sellers who sold their home within the past two years:

Incorrect pricing

Zillow found that 39% of first-time homesellers wished they had listed their home for more money. Despite that, 22% of listings underwent price cuts in January 2023 (10% more than a year prior), indicating that sellers’ hindsight about prices might not be 20/20.

During the first year of the pandemic, nearly every home sold above list price — but that’s simply not the case anymore. “The spring’s sellers are more likely to regret pricing their home too high,” said Nicole Bachaud, senior economist at Zillow. “The price their neighbor commanded a year ago may no longer be realistic. 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.”

Lack of online marketing

Nearly 90% of first-time sellers from the past two years feel they could have gotten more for their home if they, or their agent, had done something extra to give the listing “online curb appeal.” Thirty-nine percent of sellers surveyed believed that better photos could have increased profits, while 25% wished they’d included a virtual tour in their listing.

There may be some truth to this one: Zillow reports that listings on their site with 3D tours garner 69% more page views and 80% more saves.

Poor timing

Zillow also found that 25% of first-time sellers regret the time of year they decided to list their home. Research from Zillow shows that the second half of April is statistically the best time to list — however, many sellers don’t take into account how long their home will stay on the market.

Two out of five surveyed sellers shared that when they listed their home, achieving a quick closing was of higher priority than making top dollar. Additionally, 36% of first-time sellers wish they could have known how fast their home would sell, retrospectively wondering if they should have asked for more money.

Lack of home repairs and renovations

Nearly two-thirds of first-time sellers completed at least two home renovations or improvements to ready their home for the market, and 78% felt those upgrades improved their home sale. Even so, 25% of all first-time sellers from the past two years believe they could have gotten more money if they’d invested even more time and money into home improvements. 

However, Zillow home trends expert Amanda Pendleton says sellers shouldn’t go crazy with repairs or upgrades that won’t yield higher profits.

“The right projects can pay off,” said Pendleton. “[But] 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.”