How to Avoid the Top Home Selling Mistakes
So…you want to sell your home. That’s great, but do you know everything involved in selling a home?
Are you sure?
Selling a home is probably not something you do every day, so it only makes sense you wouldn’t know everything. And while you might know how the basic process goes, you more than likely, aren’t all that familiar with every detail involved…and there’s a lot—a whole lot!
So what should you do?
Well, we can tell you that for most people, trying to go it alone will generally not only cost you time, but it will likely cost you money. Therefore, we always recommend you enlist the help of a real estate agent. There’s a reason real estate agents are required to go to school and become licensed (just like a contractor) before being allowed to enter the field. It’s because there are so many factors and legalities involved in a real estate transaction from start to finish that it’s not something everyone could jump into without knowing exactly what they are doing.
#1 Home Selling Mistakes
The top mistakes home sellers make is hiring the wrong real estate agents for reasons such as the agent is a part time agent, none or very limited communication, lack of web presence, hiring a family member to name just a few. Before hiring a real estate agent, you should ask questions such as, are you familiar with the area, what unique selling technique that sets you apart from other agent, what kind of marketing do you do? And some of the not so obvious questions that will help you narrow down your selections to just one—one who truly understands YOU—one who knows exactly how to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.
How to Avoid the Top Home Selling Mistakes
Even if you have a real estate agent helping you sell your home, it’s always best to take some time to thoroughly learn and understand the process. This will help you make educated decisions along the way versus guessing and hoping it all works out in your favor.
OK. Let’s get started!
1. Prepare Yourself and Your Family Emotionally
Most people have at least some emotional attachment to their home. It’s a place they have lived for a while, a place where they raised their kids, and have made lots of fond memories. Right? Does this sound familiar? It probably does and that’s why you really shouldn’t skip this step.
Take a few minutes now to get your mental home selling state of mind in check. You first need to realize that this is a business transaction…it’s not personal.
Potential buyers will be touring your home and some will probably pick it apart. But that can be a good thing. You see, when someone likes a house, it’s common for them to try to find fault in it. These are known as objections; however, when someone is objecting to your home, what they are really saying is they are interested. They are interested enough in it that they are taking the time to sort things out in their mind. If they didn’t like it—they wouldn’t bother, they would just move on. So you see, it’s really all a matter of reverse psychology on their part; therefore, don’t be offended when you should be getting excited.
Once you have your head wrapped around the emotional part of selling your home, it’s time to talk with your kids. Take the time to explain the entire process to them, give them the game plan, and make sure you put a positive spin on things while giving them something to look forward to when you get to your new location.
2. Preparation Is the Key to a Successful Sale
If you want to get the highest dollar sale possible, you will need to spend some time preparing your home in a way that will attract the most buyers.
What does that mean?
That means cleaning (lots of cleaning), decluttering, and properly staging your home. It also means if you are thinking about selling home maintenance is critical. Going through your home and performing any maintenance issues that might exist is a must. So let’s talk about this in a little more detail.
Go through your house and clean everything from top to bottom. And that means baseboards, the dust bunnies on the ceiling, the inside and outside of all cabinets and drawers, polish all wood, and wax all floors (if you have waxable flooring), etc. Don’t forget to clean all the door, drawer, and cabinet knobs. The last thing you want is for a potential buyer to touch a sticky doorknob and be grossed out. That one simple act could easily kill the deal.
You should also clean your windows inside and out, as well as the screens. If a buyer sees dirty windows he/she might assume the windows are bad, and they will promptly ask you to replace them whether they are truly bad or not.
A spotless home looks well cared for and just feels better. You want your potential buyers to get a pleasant, warm and inviting feeling while in your home and not that yuk feeling like they don’t want to touch anything.
And one last mention, you need to clean and organize your garage. Many buyers cherish their garages and if they can’t see how your garage looks and how they might be able to utilize it, that also could easily kill the deal.
Technically, by saying clutter, we aren’t insinuating that your personal decor and things are clutter, although most of us harbor clutter to some extent. What we are saying is to go through your entire house and throw away the things you don’t need and box up everything you don’t use on a daily basis. There are several reasons for this.
The more you remove and box up, the bigger your closets and cabinets will look. And the more you remove your personal items and decor, the easier it will be for potential buyers to envision themselves living there.
Most homes will sell quicker and usually for more money when they are staged. Staging a home means strategically placing the right furniture in the right places and using decor to highlight a home’s features. The purpose of staging is to show how a home’s space could be used and to make it visually appealing to the point it feels warm and homey to everyone who looks at it. If a buyer feels comfortable and could see themselves living there, you probably have a sale. Besides, who buys a home they don’t feel comfortable in—no one that’s who! So whatever you do, don’t skip this step.
One last mention, you don’t have to have your home professionally staged if money is tight. You could potentially use what you already have if it’s in good shape and you keep it minimal. Alternatively, you could also rent some furniture for a month or so if needed. Talk with your real estate agent about which route is best for you and your particular situation.
3. Quality Photos Sell
The bottom line is that if you don’t offer pictures of your home or just take one picture of the front exterior of your home, it probably won’t sell for what might be a very long time. Almost all buyers these days start their home search on the internet and if you don’t include pictures on your listing, they will skip your ad and move on to one that does.
In addition, poor quality, blurred pictures are just as bad, if not worse, than not having pictures at all. The best way to frustrate a potential buyer is to show them bad, blurry pictures of a house they are truly interested in. If you do, their frustration will cause them to pass over your home and find one they can see more clearly.
It’s best to use a professional real estate photographer who knows exactly what pictures to take and which angles and lighting to use.
A picture really is worth a thousand words and then some!
4. Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure
In Florida, a seller is not legally required to provide the buyer with a Home Disclosure form. However, they are legally required to inform the buyer of any known property defects even if they are selling the home As-Is. If you don’t, and the buyer finds out later, even if it’s years down the road, that you knew about a home issue you didn’t disclose, they could take you to court and sue for damages. Your best bet is to disclose everything you know about your home and don’t leave anything out. If your home has issues big or small, talk with your real estate agent for advice on how to address them.
5. Properly Pricing Your Home
Many sellers are tempted to inflate the sale price of their home in an effort to leave themselves some wiggle room in the negotiations. However, you should always present your best price up front based on the comparable market analysis of area homes your agent provided you. If you over inflate the price, your home could sit on the market for a while where it will earn the “there must be something wrong with it” stigma which is common with stale listings. The best time to attract potential buyers is when you first put it on the market. And sometimes, listing it at a fair price could cause a bidding war, which could result in you getting the higher price anyway. Your real estate agent will help you come up with a fair for your home.
6. Be Willing to Negotiate
Everyone wants to get the asking price on their home and it does happen. However, there are times a seller has to come off the asking price to close the deal. That means you have to be willing to negotiate. If you refuse to budge, even a little, your house could be on the market for a while, unless you are in a seller’s market, if you are—that changes everything.
7. Only Deal with Qualified Buyers
A common mistake many sellers make is they sign a purchase contract with an unqualified buyer. You would be more than justified to request a pre-approval or proof of funds letter accompany all offers. Doing so will ensure you don’t waste months of time holding your house while the buyer tries and hopes he/she will get approved. Then, if he/she doesn’t, you have to start all over again and that could take a few more months.
8. Be Willing to Show Your Home with Just a Moment’s Notice
If a potential buyer wants to see your house, you have to be willing to drop everything and allow them to tour your house whenever they want, even if that means they will be there in a few minutes. If you don’t, there’s a possibility they will move on to another one and fall in love with it before they get a chance to see yours.
9. Keep an Open Mind When Considering an Offer
Many potential buyers might look at your home and see something of yours they want. It might be that custom chandelier you had designed and installed, the one you said you were taking with you. It might be that beautiful (expensive) patio set you recently bought. It could be anything. Quite often, a buyer will state that he/she will buy your house if you throw in that item for free. Unless they ask for something that has tremendous sentimental value to you, it’s best to consider giving it to them just to seal the deal. You can always replace it with another later.
10. Don’t Balk at That Lowball Offer Just Yet
If you are selling your home, you are bound to get a few lowball offers. Sometimes accepting a lowball offer will cost you less money than if you were to leave your house on the market for months, have to move twice, rent something until you find another place to live, and it could also be cheaper than paying part of the down payment and other closing costs for a full-price buyer. Therefore, it’s best to consider any and all offers regardless of the price. Ask your real estate agent to help you assess the deal to arrive at your final take-home number.
The Bottom Line
Selling your home doesn’t have to be hard, you just have to learn everything you can about the process. That should include what to do and what not to do while working closely with your real estate agent to get the best possible offers on your home.
Other Valuable Home Selling Resources
Should I Hire A Listing Agent to Sell My Home – Michelle Gibson
Smart Ways to Increase Your Home Value – Bill Gasset
Home Sellers – You must do this before listing your home for sale – Glenn Shelhamer
If you are thinking about selling your home, please Contact Us today. Lakeland Real Estate Group proudly serves the Lakeland, FL, and surrounding areas.
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About the author: The above real estate article “How to Avoid the Top 10 Home Selling Mistakes” was written by Petra Norris of Lakeland Real Estate Group, Inc. With over 20 years of combined experience of selling or buying, she would love to share her knowledge and expertise. Petra can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 863-712-4207
Are you thinking of selling your home? I would love to share my marketing expertise of our latest marketing techniques with you.