Selling a home should be a joyous process—where you show off your digs to enamored buyers who shower you with offers that far surpass what you paid for the place originally. That’s the dream, anyway. And yet, all too often, the home-selling process is fraught with pain, surprises, and no small amount of post-sale regrets. As proof, peruse these cautionary tales of real-life home sellers, and the lessons they learned.

Moving in with Mom and Dad

Last year, Nick Braun sold his Columbus, OH, home … while his new home was still being renovated. The combination of lousy planning and poor timing meant Braun had to move out of the old house and pay to store his furnishings as he waited for the new house to be ready. “My family and I lived in my parents’ house for over three months!” says Braun.

Lesson learned: “It’s difficult to plan perfect timing when you’re selling and buying and renovating,” says Carolina Chia, a Realtor® at New York’s TripleMint Real Estate. But you can mitigate this risk by including a contingency in your contract saying that your new digs must be ready before you move out of your old. Or else, arrange to have other interim living arrangements in place. “And there’s always the option of leasing back from the buyer until the renovations are finished,” says Chia.

Rachel Ryan learned a hard lesson when she sold her first home in Hanahan, SC. “My house was sparkling clean, but there was a lot of stuff that drew attention away from the home’s key features,” says Ryan. “What I thought looked homey actually made the house seem cluttered and disheveled.” That mistake chopped tens of thousands off Ryan’s sale price. Ouch!

Lesson learned: Potential buyers have to be able to envision themselves living in a home, says Erika Dalager, at the home staging site roOomy. She advises sellers to remove as much clutter as possible and refrain from displaying personal items like family photos. Instead opt for neutral décor that showcases the space without overpowering it.

Why didn’t we fix that sooner?

Like many people, Chris Brantner put off nagging updates he’d wanted to do in his first home in Houston, TX, because of the cost. When it came time to sell, he did them all, to get a good sale price. “And guess what? We didn’t want to leave!” says Brantner.

Lesson learned: “Don’t wait to fix your home up until right before you sell!” says Brantner. “Our experience would have been so much better had we just done the updates.” Remember, many renovations that seem pricey have a great return on investment, so do them now, and they’ll pay off later. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the improvements yourself!

No parking allowed

When Brad Chandler needed to move out of state to care for a sick relative, he priced his Chesapeake Beach, MD, home to sell, and quickly went to contract. But when the buyer got a land survey—which Chandler had failed to do—it revealed that his driveway ran through an adjacent property. The day before closing, the buyers’ lender wouldn’t accept the property. “Now I have to fix that issue, and the house will be worth less in the long run,” says Chandler.

Lesson learned: Always get a survey of the property prior to selling, especially when you aren’t in a cookie-cutter neighborhood or the house is in an older subdivision, advises Chandler.

Wait, I want my home back!

For Michelle Morton, the hardest part of selling her home of 11 years in Raleigh, NC, was the unexpected emotion. It affected her so much, she tried to back out of the sale several times, but the buyers refused to budge. “I was still a mess on the move-out day,” says Morton. “I felt like I had just taken my kids’ home away from them.”

Lesson learned: Sellers are often blindsided by the heartbreak they feel when selling a home. Still, if the time is right to sell, try to focus on the benefits—like the money you’ll save and the better neighborhood you’re moving to, says Tracey Hampson of Century 21 Troop Real Estate in Santa Clarita, CA. Also keep in mind that moving doesn’t erase the fond memories you have—and that your new place will “feel like home” eventually. Just give it time.