Selling Advice

DOs and DON’Ts of Selling a Home!

“How come you’re not stressed?” I had a client ask me the other day. Things were kind of exploding all around me, and the situation was tense, but stressing along with the client was not going to solve anything. I needed to have a clear vision and plan of how we were going to deal with what was happening. I needed to be emotionally unattached to the property to be able to connect all the dots. In any real estate transaction, and trust me when I say this as I have worked with hundreds of buyers and sellers, there are almost always hoops to jump through. Sometimes the items are minor in nature, but more often than not, complications tend to be big enough where if not solved correctly, they could derail the whole transaction. That’s why over the years, I have had a few for-sale-by-owner sellers reach out to me for assistance when they found themselves quickly sinking in uncharted waters.

For me, as a real estate professional who deals with real estate related topics on a daily basis, real estate problem solving is easier than for someone who is not involved in real estate on a daily basis. I have either dealt with the issue before, or I know who to turn to for assistance, for answers, for help when needed. I have the connections and I surround myself with a team of professionals who help me power through challenges.

Kaneohe Bay, Oahu

SELLER TIPS – Selling a Property 101

Choosing the Right Agent

It’s important for Sellers to do some research prior to hiring their real estate agent. Google the agent, check out their work history, check their social media presence, read reviews. If you don’t see anything good, move on. Don’t just pick anyone. All agents ARE NOT equal. Experience just like in any business is important. A real estate license takes only a few hours to complete. As you can imagine, much of it is about rules, etc, but real hands-on education happens on the job. Every sale has its own challenges. There is no formal education that can prepare anyone for situations that arise, and there are some crazy things that happen with the properties and the people.

Every sale is a learning experience, and that’s cumulative over the years. There are, however, exceptions to experience. New and hungry agents can be very effective if they have the right support. They may not have the knowledge, but with the right guidance, they can navigate through the challenges. They may also have more time for the seller. The opposite is also true. Agents who have been in business for years, and who are not keeping up with the current real estate environment and education, will not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s real estate environment. Pick the person who you believe will be the best fit for you and who will best help you with your sale.

Hawaii Kai, Oahu


Let’s just get this one right out of the way. Here’s why. It is totally understandable that Sellers want to make as much money as they can from the sale of the property. That’s why some people choose to go the For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) route and others go with a discount broker. There is nothing wrong with doing so if you are prepared to go it alone. It’s not an easy process. In a 2017 study done by the National Association of Realtors, a typical FSBO home sold for $200,000 compared to $265,500 for agent-assisted home sales. That’s a ton of money lost that Sellers could have made. When it comes to discount brokers, the situation is similar. Discount brokerages are volume based, hands off models, with a much larger portion of listings never selling. Typically limited assistance and limited marketing is offered to the seller. In contrast, full-service brokerages charge more, but with the right agent, the property and the seller will have support, the right marketing, and more eyes on the listings. There is a right model for every seller. Just be aware that a lower commission doesn’t necessarily mean a higher NET Income from the sale.

Detach Yourself from the Property

There are many reasons why people sell their homes and condos. Upsizing, downsizing, 2nd home, investment, etc. In all of these scenarios, the expected end result is the sale of the property. Once the decision to sell has been made, it is important to shift the mindset away from homeowner and become the seller. The distinction being that one has an attachment to the property and one doesn’t. As hard as it may be to do, it is best to take the emotional attachment out of the transaction. It is best to focus strictly on the process of selling the property. The property has to be prepared for the next owner. Here are some actions you can take to help in the selling process:

  • Declutter and clean
  • Depersonalize and make as neutral as possible, so buyers can imagine their belongings in the home
  • Refresh if necessary. New paint, new fixtures, etc.
  • Stage – You can use your own furniture, hire a stager, or stage virtually.

Virtually staged property. Clean, bright professionally photographed room.

Dangers of Overpricing

Price the property according to the market. An experienced agent will explain the current market conditions and will know all comparable properties. Buyers are savvy. If the property is overpriced, they won’t even come to look at the home/condo, let alone bring an offer. Overpricing leads to missed opportunities. “Lets price high, and we will negotiate” is not a good strategy. As a seller, you will be forgoing showings, and the Days on the Market will accumulate, often leading to a stale listing. At that point, Buyers begin to ask “What’s wrong with this property?”, which leads to even less interest. Buyers love to look at new listings. They are online daily looking at properties. Listings fatigue sets in when the same listing shows up continuously. They pretty much just start ignoring some listings. Well priced, fresh listings are the most viewed properties online. This two-week window is the best opportunity for Sellers to get exposure. Interest drops the longer the property sits on the market. Of course, not every property will sell in two weeks, but the goal is to generate as much interest as possible in the early days for maximum exposure. Read more about how to price your home here.

Professional Photography

There should be no excuse for not using a professional photographer. Your listing needs to stand out online. Photos are the Buyers’ window to your home online. Don’t settle for anything less from the person you decide to hire to market your home. During your research, look up the Agent’s previous listings, or request samples. If the pictures look bad, then that’s a pretty good indication that the rest of the marketing will be under par as well. If a sample property is supposed to have a beautiful view, yet the windows are all white and blown out, then that’s a huge disservice to the seller. This is what Buyers look at online. Bad pictures lead to fewer showings. Critical features are often missed with bad photography, like a beautiful view, for example. Do you want that to be the representation of your property?

When using a cell phone or an amateur camera, the view out of the windows is often white, or the interior is dark, as the camera cannot capture indoor and outdoor lighting all at the same time.

Video, Drone, 3D Virtual Tours, Floorplans

At least one of these add-ons should be included with the listing:

  • Video
  • Drone photography/video
  • 3D Virtual Tours
  • 2D Floorplans

All agents now have access to these features whether through their company or through an outside vendor. The MLS has a limit on how many pictures can be included with each listing. A property walkthrough is an amazing way to take people into the house and make them feel like they are there. It allows potential Buyers to get an idea of the true layout, especially in large homes, and see details that are not always displayed in the pictures.

3D dollhouse view that leads to a 3D walk-through tour of the entire home.

What Does the Internet Strategy Look Like?

Don’t be afraid to ask the agent about their online marketing strategy. With most Buyers starting their search online, and continuing to use the internet throughout the transaction, the agent you choose to work with should have a strong online presence and a well-crafted online marketing plan. Placing the listing on the MLS is NOT enough in today’s competitive real estate environment. Some questions to ask:

  • Will my Zillow listing have a video? It makes a listing more prominent on the platform.
  • Do you or your company have a personal website, active social media accounts, blog (like the one you’re reading now) where my listing will be promoted?
  • What other types of online advertising are you offering?
  • Where else is my listing going to show up?

A multi-platform online strategy is very important in today’s real estate marketing.

Other Types of Marketing

What are some other ways of how the property will be promoted? This can include mail advertising, affiliate advertising such as Christie’s or Luxury Portfolio, agent-to-agent advertising, company promotions, open houses, brokers opens, personal connections, etc. There are so many ways to get the word out about the property. Online is the quickest and generates the most views, but we can’t forget about traditional advertising.

As a Seller, get all the information up front before the “For Sale” sign goes up.

If you have questions about Oahu real estate, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Let’s stay connected


Hawaii life and Chrisite's real estate kinga mills

About the Author

Kinga Mills

Kinga Mills is a REALTOR Associate, Luxury Portfolio Affiliate, Military Relocation Professional with Hawai'i Life. I adore Hawaii, its people, and the natural beauty that surrounds me. I live on Oahu. It's a pretty incredible place to call home. There is a little bit of everything here. From pristine beaches and quiet neighborhoods to the trendiest of restaurants in the urban Honolulu. I simply love Oahu and the variety it offers. My real estate career allows me to enjoy the Island life, and to work with some amazing people. With over a decade of experience and hundreds of closed sales, I provide my clients with expert buying and selling advice. My goal for clients is to enjoy the process, while my team and I handle the details. As a member of the Hawaii Life Military Specialized Team, I regularly provide real estate assistance to active-duty military personnel who are PCSing to Hawaii, to the mainland, or overseas. For the Luxury Real Real Estate buyers and sellers, I am affiliated with Luxury Portfolio International and Forbes Global Properties. These exclusive affiliations extend an even greater reach, exposure, and effectiveness within the global luxury marketplace. In my time off, I love walking along the beach, enjoying meals out on the town, and taking family vacations. Sign up for my Oahu Hawaii Life blog updates and follow my journey. You can also find me on HGTV "Hawaii Life" Season 14. I look forward to helping in making your Hawaii Life real estate dreams happen! You can email me at or via phone at (808) 722-3985.

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