Summer is right around the corner, and it is the busiest time of year for real estate. If you plan on selling your home this year, there are certain mistakes that could turn away potential buyers or cause you unnecessary aggravation. Here are five home-selling mistakes you definitely want to avoid, and some advice on how to get it right the first time.
Overpricing your home can waste valuable time
Possibly the worst mistake you can make is listing your home for an unrealistic price. Many sellers figure that they might as well try to get more money, so they'll list the house 20% (or more) higher than what comparable homes have been selling for. They figure if it doesn't sell for the high price, they can always reduce it later.
While you can certainly reduce the price of your home later, this is usually a terrible idea. Buyers and their real estate agents do their research, and know when a house is overpriced. The best thing you can do is to evaluate the comparable sales in your area (or better yet, let your real estate professional do this), then price it slightly above this amount. You want it high enough to get you what you want, but low enough that it brings potential buyers in the door.
Just keep in mind that your home will receive the most attention from buyers and agents within the first two weeks of listing. By pricing your home unreasonably high you'll attract negative attention during the time when there is the highest potential for a sale.
First impressions are everything
Don't assume that a buyer will "see past" your neglected landscaping or the sink full of dirty dishes. Take the time to make sure the buyer has a positive first impression. After all, you want them to picture themselves living there.
Before you list your house, make sure you do the following:
- Cut the grass and trim the hedges. You don't need to do any fancy landscaping by any means, but make sure what is there is neat.
- Dust your furniture, picture frames, etc.
- Vacuum the carpet and sweep the floors.
- Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink.
- Put away clothes.
- Make basic repairs, such as fixing that doorknob that doesn't latch right or that sliding closet door that doesn't slide properly. Things like this will have a minimum cost to you, and will go a long way toward making a good impression to a buyer
Make your house less "personal"
As I mentioned earlier, you want your buyer to picture themselves living in your home. How are they supposed to do that if your walls are covered in family pictures and your kids' toys are all over the place?
One or two pictures is fine, but as a general rule of thumb, you want as little personalization in your house as possible. And this means de-cluttering the house as well. It may look like home to you, but if any part of your house looks like this, buyers may have a tough time figuring out where all of their stuff is going to go.
Don't reject any offers or get offended
A common mistake is rejecting an offer that's way too low, or getting offended by any comments buyers make. It's completely natural to be emotionally attached to your house and to think defensively when someone seems to insult it, but try to resist this.
Even lowball offers should be acknowledged and countered. If someone makes a ridiculous offer, counter with something reasonable. Maybe the offer wasn't meant to offend you, but was intended as a starting point for negotiations. If you simply reject it, you'll never know. Responding to low offers says that you're serious about selling, and you never know -- your counteroffer might be accepted.
Keep an open schedule
If the only times you're willing to show your house is on weekdays between 6 p.m.-9 p.m., why even bother? Setting strict conditions on when you're willing to show your house is counterproductive and severely limits the traffic you'll experience.
If you're serious about selling your home, you need to be as accommodating as possible to potential buyers. It may be a good idea to put a lockbox on the house so your real estate agent can access it for showings when you're not around. If there is a certain time you don't want showings (such as Sunday afternoons), fine. Just don't be unreasonable about it.
The bottom line
To sum it up, you need to look at the potential sale of your home from a buyer's perspective. Too many people are emotional and stubborn about the sale of their own home, and they assume other people are going to find it as charming and cozy as they do.
Keep it clean, keep things simple, and keep an open mind. If you do this, you'll have an advantage over much of your competition and could sell your home quicker and for more money.