So if this mistake can cost you time and money, not to mention cause some serious stress, why do sellers refuse to make their houses more attractive to buyers?

The three reasons you aren't getting your house ready for buyers

Lynda says there are three main reasons that sellers don't get their houses in tip-top shape.

First, they don't believe it makes a difference. Like Bill, they think their house will sell itself, so the extra investment seems like a waste of money. “Bill was really cautious about spending any money because he was being transferred on his own nickel,” says Lynda. “He refused to believe that a coat of paint would make a difference.”

Second, they don't think there's a problem. Lynda says it's often difficult to convince smokers and pet owners that their homes don't smell like roses. Bill, for example, was both a smoker and a pet owner. “Some sellers don't realize it smells because they're so used to it, or else they don't think it's a big deal,” says Lynda. “But it's a huge deal to buyers.”

Third, they think they don't have the money. Remember the clients that got $20,000 less than list price? Lynda says that it wasn't until they were all at the closing table that they finally admitted to her that they didn't have the money to make her suggested improvements. “Some sellers don't want to admit that they don't have money on hand, but I can't help them if they aren't willing to talk about it.”

So how can you avoid these problems and sell your house quickly (and for list price)?

Make your house show-ready

You've got to invest in wowing potential buyers.

When Lynda showed Bill the negative comments people were leaving about his home, he finally relented, telling Lynda, “Okay, tell me what to do.” They took the house off the market while he worked his way through the to-do list. After $2,500 in updates and repairs, they put the house back on the market at the original price. In three days they received three offers.

“Buyers are picky,” says Lynda. “If you want to get top dollar for your home, you have to prepare for that.”