Most of us will end up buying or selling a home during our lifetimes, but it something in which we have no real expertise. We have plenty of friends, family members and neighbors ready to give us advice. Yet, there are several decisions that need to be avoided if we want to sell our home for a good price, in a reasonable amount of time, and without lingering complications. Below are a few mistakes to avoid if you want to sell your home successfully:

1. Not trusting your agent. The truth is that you do not have the experience and education that a licensed, professional real estate agent possesses. We would not go to a lawyer who never went to law school or a doctor who did not finish medical school, so why place the sale of our greatest asset in the hands of someone—like ourselves—who does not know the proper way to get the job done. Of course, we want to find an agent with whom we can be comfortable, but do not second-guess every decision the agent makes. Trust the professional.

2. Going overboard with improvements. We want our house to look its best when we sell it, and we all know that there are improvements and updates that we have been meaning to get finished. The temptation is to redo the kitchen, the baths or re-landscape the yard. Your agent will have some good ideas about what is worthwhile and what is a waste of money. Many updates may look good, but will not help the house sell any faster or for any more money. People do not expect, and are not quick to pay for, a perfect home.

3. Not being ready. If there is work that needs to be done, like a fresh coat of paint, make sure it is finished before the house goes on the market. Also, be sure that any issues involving proper title or financing have been resolved. If you can only sell your house if you can buy a new one, make sure that you can be ready to move out when a new buyer of you r home needs to move in.

4. Do not let your emotions drive the sale. It is easy to think that your house should get top dollar, because of all the memories you made there, and all the hard work you put into the home. Remember that your potential buyers do not know and will not care that your child took her first step in that room, or that you planted those trees in the back yard. Once you put the house on the market, it is a commodity, not an heirloom.

5. Do not try to hide ANYTHING. Maybe the basement leaks when you get a big rain, or the dishwasher is on its last legs. We want to put the best face on our property, but honesty about its faults is paramount. Most states have specific forms that set out what must be disclosed by a seller. Fill it out, and do so with complete honesty. Failure to disclose a known defect can get you sued, or negate a sale. Again, no one expects perfection; they just want to know it the chimney is likely to fall over when the next windstorm hits.

If you can listen to your agent, be realistic with your expectations and treat your prospective buyers they way you would want to be treated, you can make the sale of your home as stress-free as possible. Remember that you will be passing your home onto a new family, eager to make a whole new set of memories within its walls. Enjoy the experience.

Photo courtesy of Images_of_Money via Flickr