As Spring approaches and the real estate market comes back to life along with the budding flowers, some homeowners are preparing to list their homes for sale. If you’re selling your home, avoid these common seller mistakes.
Below, we’ve outlined ten mistakes homeowners make when selling, and offer solutions that will help you sell your home faster.
Selling Your Home: Avoid Making These Common Mistakes
1. Mistake: Emotional Involvement
Selling your home can be an emotionally taxing experience, especially if you’ve never sold a home before, or if you’ve lived in one house for many years. Your home is more than just a building to you; it contains memories and represents your hard work, dedication, and sweat equity.
But bringing those emotions into a real estate transaction can have disastrous consequences. Buyers might not like the improvements you’ve made. They may not offer you what you think your home is worth. And they definitely won’t have the same emotional connection to your home.
Solution: Be Realistic and Think of This as a Business Transaction
To combat the roller coaster of emotions that result from selling your home, you must change your mindset. Once your home hits the market, think of it as an asset, and think of yourself more as a business person than the homeowner. You’re here to get the best possible deal you can for your property, and you can’t do that if you let emotions get in the way.
Yes, the potential buyer may want you to tear out that treehouse you spent hours building with your kids. But the profit you’ll make on the sale of the house can go towards purchasing a real home for those same children. Change your perspective and look for the positives.
The more you frame selling your home as a business deal instead of a nostalgic farewell, the better you’ll be at negotiating and accepting the best possible price.
2. Mistake: Selling Your Home on Your Own
Some homeowners look at Realtor fees and think, “I don’t want to pay that money to an agent. I’ll just sell this house on my own.”
This is a mistake for many reasons, but chief among them is the average time it takes to sell an FSBO (for sale by owner) home versus a home listed by a real estate agent. FSBO homes tend to stay on the market longer, sell for far less than agent-listed homes, and take up far too much of your precious time and energy. When you consider the potential losses due to time on market (extra mortgage payments, upkeep, and other associated costs), plus the lower sales price on average (estimates as high as 10-30% less than agent-listed homes), you’re actually losing money by trying to sell your home yourself.
Solution: Hire a Real Estate Agent
Factor in the added liability, lack of representation, and the mountains of paperwork, and FSBO sounds like an even more terrible idea. The solution? Hire a reputable, experienced real estate agent who regularly works in your area.
Realtors not only have access to real estate tools like the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other resources, but they’ll also work to get you the best possible deal with the best potential buyers, Plus, they’ll act as a buffer, protecting your interests from demanding buyers, unfair inspection requests, and stressful negotiations.
The bottom line: real estate agents will sell your home faster, for more money, and they’ll take away much of the stress of selling your home. That way, you can focus more on your move and less on trying to sell your home. It’s worth the expense to hire an expert.
3. Mistake: Picking the Wrong Real Estate Agent
Now that you know why you should hire a real estate agent, it’s time to talk about who should represent you. Not all real estate agents are created equal, and hiring an inexperienced or unmotivated agent could mean disaster when trying to sell your home.
Solution: Do Your Research and Find an Experienced Realtor
Real estate agents are plentiful. Almost all of us know someone who knows someone who is a Realtor. However, before you hire someone as a favor to your cousin’s best friend, do your research. You can search for real estate agents in your area on tools like Zillow’s Agent Finder, and you should interview several agents before committing to one.
Want more tips on choosing the right Realtor for the job? Check out this article from the online home search engine, Zillow.
4. Mistake: Selling Your Home During Winter Months
While there are instances when selling a home in the winter can be beneficial, you’re statistically less likely to find a buyer or sell above your asking price during November, December, and January.
Solution: Wait Until Spring or Summer
We get it: sometimes selling during the “off-season” is unavoidable: job transfers, family situation changes, or finding the perfect house for sale means you have to sell during these months.
But if you have a choice, wait to sell until spring or early summer. While statistics differ from city to city, homes often spend fewer days on the market and sell for a greater price per square foot when sold from April to August.
5. Mistake: Asking Too Much
Our homes mean a lot to us. As such, we often have an inflated opinion about what our house is worth. However, an increased asking price typically means your home will take much longer to sell, and it may not sell at all.
Solution: Listen to Your Realtor and Look at the Comps
Pricing your home right is just another way Realtors help you sell your home. Your agent will conduct market comparisons – “comps” – using recently bought and sold properties in your area. He or she will take many factors into account – the size of the home, improvements, lot size, amenities, etc. – and will suggest a fair market price using this information.
As the owner, you have the final say in whether you take your real estate agent’s advice and list your home at the suggested price, but a reputable Realtor will almost always recommend a price that is fair to both owner and buyer and will get your home sold quickly.
6. Mistake: Standing Too Firm
Interested buyers may ask for concessions, allowances, or will ask for specific repairs. Buyers who refuse to compromise on anything will find themselves without a deal.
Solution: Compromise and Give Concessions
Negotiations between seller and buyer require a bit of compromise on both sides. Therefore, be open to making necessary repairs or lowering the price a bit. Perhaps your buyer needs you to help pay closing costs or wants you to offer an allowance for new carpeting. If it’s a reasonable request, it’s worth spending a few dollars to keep the deal from falling through.
7. Mistake: Underrepresentation Online
Even the most perfect house won’t sell if it’s not online. Some 98% of younger home buyers begin a home search online. Of those, 87% say photos are the determining factor when considering a home.
If your home is underrepresented online, it’s less likely to sell quickly.
Solution: Lots of Photos, Bold Marketing Plan
Your real estate agent should ensure your home is listed on every possible website. Your agent should also have a clear marketing strategy to get your home in front of as many buyers as possible through social media campaigns, flyers, contacting other agents, and holding open houses. Ask about your Realtor’s plans to market your home before hiring them for the job.
Moreover, every home for sale should have professional photos that highlight the very best features. If your real estate agent doesn’t hire a professional photographer, insist they do.
8. Mistake: Hiding Problems
Some homeowners believe they can mask significant problems – like plumbing leaks or failing appliances – from buyers. But this kind of trickery often backfires and leads to expensive repairs and stalled negotiations.
Solution: Make the Repairs or Lower the Price
There’s no use hiding significant problems: the buyer’s inspector will find them, and you’ll be expected to fix them. Buyers can walk away from a deal due to inspection, so it’s better to address problems before you’re under contract.
Your other option is to disclose the issue but lower your asking price accordingly. However, realize that you may eliminate many potential buyers using this strategy. Repairs that pose a safety issue must be addressed before a buyer can get insurance on a new property.
The bottom line? Fix the known issues now, before your home goes on the market and save yourself the future headaches.
9. Mistake: Not Preparing for the Sale
It’s something real estate agents see far too often: homes that are anything but camera-ready, and owners who don’t want to put in the elbow grease to make their homes shine. Homes that look outdated, need repairs, or are cluttered or messy simply do not sell.
Solution: Clean, Stage, and Add Some Curb Appeal
Before you list your home for sale, your Realtor will suggest some ways to make your home more appealing to buyers. Clear out the clutter, stage your home to make it appear more open and inviting, and spend some time improving your curb appeal.
Just a few small changes can have a significant impact on your overall profits.
10. Mistake: Underestimating the Cost of Selling and Moving
Perhaps the worst mistake a homeowner can make is to miscalculate the expense of selling and moving. If you don’t have enough money to pay your Realtor, pay any necessary closing costs or other seller fees, and pay for potential repairs or renovations, you may find yourself in a tough spot.
Solution: Take a Hard Look at Your Finances and All Associated Costs
Know your financial situation and understand your financial liability fully before putting your home on the market. This article from Opendoor lays out some of the most common costs of selling your home, including:
- Real estate agent commissions: 5-6% of sale price.
- Staging costs: 1% of sale price.
- Landscaping, curb appeal, and repair costs: vary depending on scope of project.
- Seller concessions: Expect 2% or more of total sale price, depending on what seller asks and what you can negotiate.
- Closing costs: up to 3% of sales price.
- Other costs, including moving costs, HOA fees, insurance, home warranty inclusions, mortgage payoff, and transfer fees.
Selling a home can be costly. Make sure you’re financially prepared for every expense along the way.
Final Words on Selling Your Home
Listing your home for sale can be a stressful undertaking. However, with some preparations and expectation management, you can successfully sell your home.
Have questions? We would be happy to help! Leave us a comment here or contact us for more information!
Tyler Johnson says
That makes sense that if you list your house for too much, that people won’t want to buy it. I could see how that would make people a bit more cautious about your house as well since it’s been on the market for so long. If I decide to sell my home, it would probably be a good idea to work with a real estate agent that could help me determine the highest price where the house will actually sell.
Jarom Linton says
I love that you talked about how there will be a mountain of paperwork to tackle when you are trying to sell a home. My spouse and I are thinking about selling our house this year so that we can move into a bigger space. We need to find a good agent that will be able to help us buy and sell homes quickly so that it’s not too taxing on us.
Becca Stewart says
Yes! The paperwork involved can be overwhelming. Find a great real estate agent is a great way to reduce your stress when selling a home. Thanks for your comment!
karan singh says
you really explained everything that can happen when you are selling a house, I read it and I understood so many things that I didn’t know Before. I am glad that I found this article. thank you
Becca Stewart says
Thank you for your comment, Karan. We appreciate you reading!