The Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House
1. DON’T PICK A REALTOR FOR THE WRONG REASONS
Choosing a Realtor based on convenience rather than experience, may prove disastrous. When working with a real estate agent, it's critical that you have full confidence in that agent's experience and education. A skilled, knowledgeable agent should be able to explain to you exactly why your home needs to be priced at a certain level - compared to recent listings and sales of homes similar to yours. Experienced agents also know exactly what the current pool of buyers are looking for in relation to particular styles and price ranges of properties. A skilled agent can recommend changes that will enhance the salability of your home, thus increasing the price - and/or decreasing the length of time before a sale.
2. DON’T BE COMPLACENT IN MARKETING
When selling your home there are no guarantees that the ultimate buyer of your home will have simply walked through the front door. In many cases you may have to bring your home to the buyer. Effective marketing will help ensure that your property receives maximum exposure to attract a ready, willing and able buyer in the shortest period of time. Ask your Realtor to list for you all of the ways he/she intends to market your home and on what time-line. Also, be sure to ask about the home being advertised on the Internet.
It is a mistake to limit the marketing and advertising of the Property. Your realtor should employ a wide variety of marketing techniques. Your realtor should also be committed to selling your property; he or she should be available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure that your realtor is working on selling your home during these hours. Chances are that you have a job, too, so you may not be able to get in touch with many potential buyers.
3. DON’T PRICE YOUR HOME TOO HIGH
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is listing it at the correct price. It's one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate agent can more than pay for itself. Listing the home too high is actually worse than listing too low. If the listing price is too low, competing buyers will usually drive the price up with competing offers.
If the listing price is too high, you'll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the price range where your home should be. This is the flaw in thinking that you'll always have the opportunity to accept a lower offer. Chances are the offers won't even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price and aren't even taking the time to look. By the time the price is corrected, you've already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers. The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling. It's critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving - both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer. Again, an experienced, well-trained Realtor is always in touch with market trends - often even to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as-is, right now.
Sometimes, sellers obtained a re-finance appraisal and feel that is what the house is worth. Unfortunately, a re-finance appraisal may have been stated at an untruthfully high price. Often, lenders estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage re-financing. The market value of your home could actually be lower.
4. DON’T TAKE YOUR HOME'S "CURB APPEAL" FOR GRANTED.
When you're preparing your house for sale, remember the importance of first impressions. A buyer's first impression can make or break whether they even want to go inside for a look. It is estimated that more than half of all houses are sold before the buyers even get out of their cars. With that in mind, be sure to stand outside of your home and take a realistic "fresh look" and then ask yourself what can be done to make the "curb appeal" improve. Also ask your Realtor's opinion as to how to improve the curb appeal. It could make a huge difference in your final sales price.
Remember that although people can be different in personality, they tend to be the same when it comes to expectations at someone else's expense. In other words, a prospective buyer would probably like to see a perfect home from top to bottom, inside and out, when it comes to your home. Your realtor should tour your house with you and make suggestions regarding ways to increase the salability of your home. Try to do as many of the following items as possible to improve the likelihood of your home sale in an expedient way.
On the outside:
- Sweep front walkway.
- Remove newspapers, bikes and toys.
- Park extra cars away from the property.
- Trim back the shrubs.
- Apply fresh, clean paint throughout.
- Clean windows and window coverings throughout.
- Keep plumbing and all appliances in working order.
- Keep all sealant (window, tub, shower, sink, etc.)in good condition.
- Make sure roof and gutters are clean and in good condition.
- Mow the lawn frequently and plant flowers.
- Keep pet areas clean.
On the inside:
- The kitchen and bathroom should shine.
- Quick once-over with the vacuum; carpets should be clean.
- Place fresh flowers in the main rooms.
- Put dishes away, unless setting a formal display for decoration.
- Make all beds and put all clothes away.
- Open drapes and turn on lights for a brighter feel.
- Straighten closets.
- Put toys away.
- Turn off television.
- Play soft music on the radio/stereo.
- Keep pets out of the way and pet areas clean and odor-free.
- Secure jewelry, cash, prescription medication and other valuables.
- Enhance the spaciousness of each room.
5. DON’T FORGET ABOUT HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES
Be upfront and disclose to your Realtor any problems with the property. The problems are going to be discovered anyway. A decade ago, health and safety issues were rarely a part of the typical real estate transaction. Today, however, it's common for inspections relating to health, safety, and even environmental concerns to be a part of most sales contracts. California law requires the seller to disclose to the buyer any knowledge of existing property problems. In many cases, these issues have been or can be factored into the home's listing price.
6. DON’T THINK YOU NEED TO BE HOME TO EXPLAIN THINGS TO A BUYER
You will be better served if you allow the Realtors to do their job without you there. Most potential buyers usually feel more comfortable if they can speak freely to the real estate professional without the owners being present. If people unaccompanied by an agent request to see your property, you should refer them to your real estate professional for an appointment.
7. DON’T TRY TO SELL TO "LOOKY-LOOS"
A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a "for sale" sign he saw may not really be interested in your property. Often buyers who do not come through a realtor are a good 6-9 months away from buying, and they are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate.
Your realtor should be able to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. Realtors should usually find out a prospective buyer's savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. If your realtor fails to find out this pertinent information, you should do some investigating and questioning on your own. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing towards the wrong people. If you have to do this work yourself, consider finding a new realtor.
Please contact me with any other questions you have. I would be glad to help you with any of your real estate needs.