Top Mistakes Home Sellers Need to Avoid in 2014

ActiveRain, an online community of real estate professionals, recently surveyed agents to find out what common mistakes are made by sellers when trying to sell their home for the best price and in the least amount of time.

If your goal is to sell your home for the best price in the least amount of time, then there are some definite things you as a seller should avoid.

1. Overpricing your Home – Don’t Do It!

So you want to test the market?  See if someone will take a “bite”.  Maybe you’ve heard the market is going up (market indicators say they are!), but overpricing a home is one of the biggest mistakes sellers make.  When you hire a professional real estate agent, she will prepare comparable sales near your home to recommend a price range for which she recommends listing your home.  Often times, many sellers ignore their realtors advice and insist on listing at a higher price than is recommended.

Keep It Real!What happens when you overprice?  The first week or two of listing your property generally yields the most amounts of views online.  Buyers who are searching in a price bracket just below where your home is listed (and in the price bracket that your home should be listed in the first place), will not even bother to look at your property since it is more than they can afford.  As a result, you have now missed a significant amount of buyer opportunities.  Chances are they will chose another home and that buyer is gone forever!

Now weeks have gone by, maybe months and you’ve had some showings but no offers.  You finally decide to lower the price upon your realtor’s recommendation.  What’s important to note is that “days on market” equals “money lost”?  You’ve now paid your mortgage, utilities and upkeep for several months.  Meanwhile the other house nearby that was priced correctly is already “Under Contract” or has already “Closed”.  Take it from professional realtors, overpricing your home will only lead to you losing thousands of dollars and becoming frustrated with the selling process and even your realtor.  Remember, most buyers will not purchase an overpriced home when they can buy a home comparable to yours for less.  Let’s price it right together!

 2. Showing Availability – Make your Home Available to Show!

Get ready to be inconvenienced!  I understand that some sellers work from home, some have young children that have nap times or maybe an elderly parent living with them.  All are reasonable reasons for not wanting to show your home at certain times of the day.  Sellers however, need to understand that a serious buyer may only be available at times that are not convenient to the seller.  Generally when agents work with a serious buyer, we may be showing about 10 – 15 homes on their “must see” list at any given time.  Let’s say we’re showing between 10am and 3pm and there are 2 other homes near yours that the buyer wants to see.  We’ve mapped out our route and we will be in your area about 2pm.  The showing instructions however, say that your home cannot be viewed between 2pm and 4pm.  The chances of the buyer wanting to wait around to see just your home are miniscule.  Often times the buyer may need to find a house ASAP! Or maybe they are from out-of-town and just have that one weekend to look for homes.  In either case, the buyer moves on to the other homes on the list and by the end of the showing day, has already made a mental note of the home they want to buy.  Keep in mind that the more people who see your home, the higher the chances are of finding a buyer.  Opportunities lost may never be regained!  If you are serious about selling your home, you must be prepared to show it, no matter how inconvenient it might be for you.

3. Cluttered Space – Make Plans to Clear the Clutter and Depersonalize

This is especially difficult for home owners who have been in their homes for a long time.  You may have collected a lot of “stuff” overtime.  Potential buyers want to be able to visualize how they are going to live in your house.  If there are too many personal items and clutter, this can be a major turn off for a buyer.  Be willing to compromise and keep in mind that selling your home is a “beauty contest”.  While yours may be the best house, if it does not appear that way to the buyer, they will choose another home over yours.

4. Unpleasant Odors – what’s that smell?

The absolute last thing you want to happen is to have a buyer enter your home, turn around and walk right back out.  Cigarette smoke, pet odor, cooking (as pleasant as it maybe to you), mold,  even strong potpourri can be a turn off to potential buyers. It’s often an uncomfortable conversation for a realtor to have with their seller.  No one wants to hear that their home smells.  Consider how a serious buyer thinks – “This could be the home for me and my family, but will that smell go away?  As much as I like the kitchen in this house, the last house we saw felt good and smelled good, I think we’ll pass on this one”. Don’t let your realtor avoid having that conversation with you, keep a clean smelling home. Get those carpets steam cleaned, empty the pet litter, use mild smelling potpourri or candles, and if you do smoke – please, please do it outside and away from the house.

5. Be Willing to Make Repairs Prior to Listing

As agents we understand why a seller would not want to spend a ton of money on a house they are about to sell.Home Repair  On the other hand, no buyer wants to purchase a home that requires a ton to repairs shortly after moving in.  A few hundred dollars spent on repairs could mean thousands more on the sale price.  When repairs are done, it makes the house more appealing to a wide range of potential buyers.  Buyers are turned off by insurmountable repairs; taking care of those repairs can be the difference between selling your home for top dollar and selling it at a discounted price. Your choice!

6. Sellers Must be willing to Negotiate with Buyers – take your emotions out of it!

The final price for which a home will sell is generally based on how well both the seller and buyer are willing to negotiate.  Understandably, sellers want the most amount of money they can get for their home while serious buyers don’t want to overpay and start off with negative equity in a home they purchase.  Don’t feel offended by a low offer!  Every buyer tries to get a good deal.  Instead, be prepared to negotiate.  You might be surprised how that low offer turns into a favorable one for you.

Price is not the only thing to negotiate on the sale of your home.  Buyers are often turned off by sellers who are unwilling to negotiate on other things, such as – seller contribution to closing costs, repairs after inspection, blinds, fixtures, work-out equipment, repairs, paint, furniture …and the list can go on.  Each party needs to feel comfortable with the sale.  You don’t want to kill the deal over something minor.  A seller that understands the importance of negotiating is a seller that will get their house sold!

 * Data provided by ActiveRain is an online community of real estate professionals who exchange best practices, write real estate blogs, and get free education from the industry and their peers.


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