Choosing to sell your home is a major decision, whether you are moving for a new job or downsizing after your grown children have moved out. Whatever your reasons for moving, you’ll want to do everything in your power to get the best possible price for your property. Unfortunately, many sellers fall into several common traps in the selling process due to their emotional attachment to the home. Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Hiring an Inexperienced Real Estate Agent
Many sellers make the mistake of hiring the first real estate agent they meet, even if that agent might not be the best choice. It can be tempting to save time and money this way, but it could set you up for future headaches. In a seller’s market, when there are few properties available, just about any agent should be able to sell your home successfully. In a buyer’s market, though, you’ll have a lot of competition for buyers’ attention, so you need to take your time in choosing the best real estate agent for the job.
For starters, you need an agent who is innately familiar with the local area. Ask your neighbors and friends for recommendations but do your own independent research as well. While it may be tempting to hire your sister’s friend or your best friend’s college roommate as a favor, they may or may not be up to the task, especially if they don’t live in the local area.
You also want an agent who is experienced with a variety of marketing styles. While newspaper advertisements may work well in small towns in rural areas, in major urban markets, you’ll likely do better with online listings. Be sure that the agent you choose can market your property in the manner that makes the most sense for your area.
Setting the Listing Price Too High
This is one of the most common mistakes sellers make. Many sellers have an idea in their mind about how much their house is worth. The truth of the matter is, though, that the value of a property is set by the market. A home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, so be sure to keep that in mind. When you have spent many years in a home, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it is worth more than the current market value, thanks to the many memories you have built over the years.
Instead of thinking about what the house is worth to you, do some research to find out what similar homes are selling for in your area. Look not just at the size of the home and number of bedrooms, but the additional amenities and features as well. This includes things like swimming pools, upgraded kitchens, built-in shelving and more.
Your real estate agent can provide a wealth of information in this area as well. Your agent likely works with many sellers throughout your area, so they’ll be familiar with the current pricing trends. This will help you to price your home accurately so that you can close the sale as quickly as possible.
Not Showing the House in the Best Possible Light
Of course, you do everything you can to make your house look immaculate in advance of an open house, but you need to keep your house in near-perfect condition at other times as well. Buyers can stop by for showings at any time, and you want to be prepared. While it is true that many will schedule appointments to view the home, some will not, so you always want to be ready just in case.
Being ready means keeping your house as clean as possible. Don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink and put away your toiletries and personal care products after you get ready in the morning. Make your beds and empty the trash frequently. You don’t want wayward garbage odors turning off potential buyers. It is a good idea to put away any family photos and mementos as well. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in the home, and that is difficult to do with your family’s faces smiling down at them at every turn.
Many buyers skip this important step, letting their house get messy between official showings. In some cases, this is a form of self-sabotage and may be conscious or subconscious. To avoid this pitfall, make a commitment to yourself to do your part to help your home sell. Even if you are reluctant to leave, think about all the exciting opportunities that await you after you move. This can provide the added motivation you need to get your house sold.
Ignoring a Low-Ball Offer
Getting an offer that is significantly lower than you were expecting can be a bit disappointing. In some cases, it can even feel downright offensive. However, that doesn’t mean that you should overlook low-ball offers. Keep in mind that the initial offer is just the starting point for your negotiations. Don’t let yourself be so turned off by a low offer that you end up losing a potential sale.
When a buyer submits an offer, you don’t have to accept or reject it right off the bat. You can, and absolutely should, provide a counteroffer. In your counteroffer, you can request a higher price, even if it is a bit lower than you were initially hoping to receive. You may have to make some concessions in order to get this higher price, like offering to leave your kitchen appliances, for example. Other possible tactics include offering credits towards closing costs, making repairs or improvements or closing at an earlier or later date, depending on your needs and preferences.
You’ll need to rely heavily on your real estate agent during the negotiation process. Your agent will be able to advise you as to what you can do to negotiate for a higher price after a low-ball offer. Of course, the final decision will be up to you, but take your agent’s advice to heart, especially if you are in a buyer’s market. Don’t settle for a lower price just to get the sale closed unless you absolutely need to. If you have the luxury of time, you can go back and forth in negotiations for months or wait for a better offer.
Getting Upset About Home Inspection Results
As part of the selling process, you’ll be required to have your property professionally inspected. Even if this step isn’t required by law in your area, it is still a good idea to have an inspection done before you list your property for sale. An inspection will get into all the details of your home, from the plumbing and wiring to the exterior facade and from the flooring to the roofing. This can alert you to any potential problems with the home that could turn off buyers or lead them to request a lower price.
The problem with this, though, is that many sellers get upset when their home inspection doesn’t turn up immaculate results. After living in the house for many years, you’ve likely put a lot of time, money and effort into maintaining and repairing your property, so it can be disheartening to find out that everything isn’t completely perfect. However, getting upset about the inspection results won’t change anything and will only create more stress for you.
Instead of dwelling on a less-than-stellar inspection report, do something about it. Before you list your property for sale, take the time to address any issues that can be easily fixed. For larger problems, work with your agent to determine whether you should fix them or leave them for the buyer to deal with. You’ll need to disclose these problems in your Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Form once you have accepted a buyer’s offer.
Keep in mind, though, that buyers are likely to have their own inspections done as well, so they’ll be alerted to any issues just as you have been. If you won’t be fixing all the problems before closing the sale, be prepared to lower your listing price accordingly.
Remember That Selling a Home Is a Business Transaction
It is easier said than done to avoid these common emotional pitfalls during the home selling process, so you’ll need to be careful to protect yourself. It can help to remind yourself that you are selling a house, not all the memories you have created in that house. Your memories will come along with you when you move, and you’ll have plenty more chances to make new memories, so do your best not to let them cloud your judgement.
Trust your real estate agent and try to look at everything from a logical perspective. With a bit of care and planning, you can sell your house for a reasonable price without becoming an emotional wreck in the process.
Call The Wright Choice Team today at 804-307-2589 to tour available homes for sale in the Chesterfield County area.