Selling a home involves more than putting up a “For Sale” and waiting for the offers to roll in. But what, exactly, does it take to make the process as simple and successful as possible? The first step is knowing what NOT to do by avoiding the following most common mistakes home sellers make:
—Not choosing the right REALTOR®.
Common mistakes people make in choosing a REALTOR® include: picking someone based on personal relationships instead of professional credentials, choosing the agent that recommends the highest listing price or choosing the agent with the lowest commission. Does the agent you choose specialize in the area you are selling in?
–Over-improving the house.
Don’t improve the house above the general level of other neighborhood homes and make sure remodels don’t end up making the house much more pricey than the rest of the neighborhood. Avoid unusual improvements like adding second stories that don’t fit in with the neighborhood.
–Making staging mistakes.
Be ruthless in depersonalizing the house. Repaint atypically colored walls, put in neutral flooring, and put away collections, family photos and other mementos. Be equally ruthless in decluttering the whole house, including storage spaces. Clear out unnecessary furniture, pack away nonessentials, and put items in an off-site storage facility. Do a deep cleaning before showing—hire a cleaning service if necessary. And remember to keep up with maintenance cleaning while the house is being shown.
–Neglecting curb appeal.
Most people won’t even come inside to look it they get a negative impression from the street. Give as much attention to staging the outside of the house as you do the inside.
–Not removing evidence of a pet.
It’s tough, but keep your pet away during showings. Deep clean carpets, upholstery and wall treatments or replace them entirely. Remove all evidence of fur throughout the whole house. Patch up walls, screens and other spots pets have scratched up. Remove stains and marks from a bathroom or kitchen cat litter box. Clean and deodorize wood floors and, if pet smells persist, strip and revarnish, seal or paint. Getting the airducts cleaned can also help with odor issues. Have a non-pet owner stop by to assess your de-petting success.
Buyers need to be able to see the house so sellers have to be flexible to get the most potential buyers through the door. Some buyers do a sweep of house tours during a specific time period and if a home isn’t available, it won’t make the schedule.
–Going to showings
Owners who attend showings tend to hover; inhibiting buyers and making them feel uncomfortable. Owner also may find it difficult to hear people talking their homes without taking comments personally and can reject good buyers for emotional reasons.
–Trying to hide problems or failure to make required disclosures.
Be clear and honest in disclosing all problems. You can still be sued after the sale if problems are later uncovered.
–Not making repairs.
A house that needs more work becomes less appealing than its competition. If a home needs a major overhaul, it immediately reduces the pool of people willing to look at it. Offering a credit to buyers upon closing to make repairs tends to be less effective than just making the repair beforehand.
–Making mistakes with offers.
Don’t ignore early offers. If the house is priced correctly and gets an offer in line with what you’re asking, take it. Be ready to act immediately–a house get the most attention and highest offers in the first weeks after it’s listed. Also don’t blindly accept the highest offer. When all aspects of a contract are considered, the highest bid might not actually be the most advantageous. It all depends on your situation so discuss offer strategy’s with your agent before you list.
–Not trusting the REALTORS® advice.
You know your home, but a REALTOR® knows how to sell it. Take advantage of their experience and listen to their advice on things like staging, pricing, and repairs.
–Not paying attention to the legal and financial details.
Even with a REALTOR® onboard, you need to stay involved with the process. Make sure you read contracts, understand offers and know what you are and aren’t agreeing to.
–Expecting an unrealistic price.
Pricing mistakes include: pricing too high, not understanding the local market, not heeding a REALTOR®’s advice, setting the price according to money you want or need for another purchase, and not being willing to lower the price when necessary.
–Unwillingness to negotiate.
Like it or not, negotiation will be necessary throughout the entire process on things like what repairs will be made, what fixtures and appliances might stay with the house and the dates when things will happen. Being stubborn will slow the process and can cut into your profits. Failure to negotiate on price, for example, can mean losing a sale during the crucial first weeks when the best offers typically will come it.