1. Neglecting To Honestly Assess Your Motivation to Sell
It is very important to honestly assess your motivation for selling and have a clear plan for your next move. In many cases the answers to these questions are fairly evident. You might be retiring,
downsizing or moving up to a larger home, or going through a divorce and do have a clear picture of why you are selling. The point is to get that clear picture.
If you are just testing the waters and don’t really need to sell and not really sure you want to, it could likely be a frustrating experience for all involved. A good realtor can help you assess this so that everyone’s expectations are realistic and based on honest and accurate information. In some instances you and your realtor may decide it is not the right time for you to sell.
2. Hiring The Wrong Agent
While there are no doubt many good agents who could market and sell your home, it is still important to make sure you are hiring one of the good ones. Whether you decide to interview on agent or 5 for the job, look for someone who you connect with personally and someone who demonstrates that they have a good working knowledge of the market, and are able to tell you what it is they primarily do to earn their money as they sell your home. Here are the three most important areas.
Do they have a multipoint marketing plan that centers around attracting online buyers? Are they able to tell you what marketing strategies are most effective in today’s market? Are they realistic and honest about who will be bringing the buyer for your home?
Do they demonstrate potentially good people skills and verbal skills that will help them in being an effective negotiator for you? For instance, if they are willing to drop their commission significantly right away in negotiations with you, that’s not a good sign. How easy will it be for them to give away your money during a price negotiation if they so easily give away their own?
The third important area where realtors earn their money is in fashioning the sales contract most effectively for their clients and getting the transaction through escrow and closed.
Your realtor doesn’t necessarily need to be the person doing the most business in town or the person with the slickest high tech presentation. Just be aware of the these things mentioned here and ask a lot of good questions to avoid the mistake of hiring the wrong realtor.
3. Improper Home pricing
It is rare that an equity seller (a standard sale where there is equity in the home for the seller to take away after the sale) will price their home too low. The greatest danger is pricing the home too high. Sometimes this happens when a seller has a recent appraisal from a refinance that he or a neighbor just
received, and they equate this with actual market value. They are not necessarily the same thing. An experienced expert Realtor will help you avoid this.
Many experts define starting too high as setting the initial price more than 3-5% (varies some with price point) above what a thorough review of the sold, pending, and active comps suggest your home should go for (market recommended price). History shows time after time that homes priced to high to start with ultimately often sell for less than the initial market recommended price, especially if effective price amendments were not executed in a timely manner. They also take substantially longer to sell.
Work closely with your realtor to set the optimal initial price to insure selling for the highest possible price the market will offer. Review the showing activity and price for any needed price amendments every 3-4 weeks (can be less often on higher priced luxury homes) to insure that you are pricing competively on an ongoing bases.
4.Neglecting To Honestly Assess the Condition of Your Home
It is extremely important to consult with your realtor to determine what things can be done to maximize the sales price and minimize the time on the market for the sale of your home. Assessing the condition requires looking at things like interior/exterior paint , carpet, clutter, and yard condition. In some instances it may also be appropriate to look at upgrades in kitchen and bathroom areas.
An experienced realtor can help you decide which things will make a difference in your particular situation. Sometimes you shouldn’t or can’t do much, such as is often the case with a short sale. However, a little paint, cleaning or replacing carpet, and sprucing up the yard can go a long way to enhancing the results of the sale. Your realtor can help guide you through this process and explain the benefits of presenting your home in its best light.
5. Neglecting To Properly Stage Your Home Including De-Cluttering and De-Personalizing
Once you have honestly assessed your homes condition and determined what needs to be done to the physical structure, it also very important to de-clutter and de-personalize the home.
To effectively de-clutter think of any of the model homes you have been in. The mantle over the fireplace has 1 or 2 items on it rather than the 8-10 items many of us accumulate on ours over the years. The same goes for kitchen counters, dressers, book cases, coffee tables, etc. Box extra items up so they are handy to retrieve when you get to your new home and put them back up there. It will make your home appear bigger and more inviting.
Most folks put up throughout the house over the years many meaningful family photos and other personal items. The majority of these items may well be going right back up in your new home when you move. However, removing most of them and leaving up less personal art and items, will help the prospective buyer to more easily view the home as their own when they are walking through it.
It will then be critically important to keep it in showable condition on an ongoing basis. That means keep the dishes done, the toys picked up, the lawn mowed, bathrooms neat and clean, and the beds made until that qualified buyer is secured.
Depending on the price point of your home a professional stager may be called in for a consultation or to oversee the staging process.
6. Not Presenting Your Home To All Potential Buyers
It only makes sense that you will get the highest price from your home in the shortest possible time if it is made available to all potential buyers. No seller wants to intentionally limit the number of buyers who see their home but here’s how it happens.
If you decide you don’t want a yard sign, statistics show you could limit as much as 20% of potential buyers who typically came from an initial call off the yard sign. Therefore a yard sign is recommended to enhance an optimal marketing plan.
Another way to miss some buyers is to limit showing ability, such as making it by appointment only. You will miss some buyers who may not have been able to get a hold of you or your realtor by the time they were out looking, and they subsequently may never see your home before deciding on another one. The optimal showing instructions are “Call First Go Direct” where the buyer’s agent must call you first and let you know when they would like to come. If you don’t answer they will leave a message with their phone # and time of showing. If you don’t call them back they will assume the showing is ok. A Supra lock box is utilized where the visit’s are logged in by agent so we always know who has been in the home.
Whether you have put some limits on showing or not, requiring you or your listing agent to be there for showings by choosing not to utilize a Supra lock box, is another way to limit buyers. With the lock box there, if an appointment has been made, at least the buyer with their agent may access the home without you or your agent having to be there.
Depending on a sellers unique situation there are times when it may make sense to limit signage and showing instructions, such as in some ultra luxury estate sales. The great majority of the time, however, it is best not to if you want to reach all potential buyers.
With regard to other marketing avenues such as the various print media, your realtor can help you determine which may or may not still be effective.
7. Hard Selling Buyers When They Are There Looking At Your Home
Following Sellers around and giving them a tour while you point out all the things you have done or like about your home is often counterproductive. The best thing to do if you are home when they arrive is to go hang out in the garage or take a short walk. Leave them alone to look. All the selling points you might want to show them should be in the MLS listing that they have a copy of.
Experienced agents will tell you that they like to have an engaging seller present because it gives them an opportunity to obtain information that could come in handy for the negotiation should their clients like the home. This exchange very rarely will benefit the seller.
A well coached seller who finds themselves in a position of answering questions by the buyers or their agent can answer specific inquiries about the home and its condition, but should always defer to their agent for anything related to the sales process or contract.
8. Trying To Sell To Lookie Loos
This is more of an issue if you are attempting to sell your home on your own without a professional realtor, something I don’t recommend if you want to get the best price (highest net $’s) from the sale. Your realtor and the other realtors bringing potential buyers will typically only be presenting pre- qualified individuals who have demonstrated the financial ability to purchase your home.
Buyers who walk into an open house or who call on an add or yard sign and indicate they don’t have a realtor helping them, are often 6-9 mo away from actually buying something. These are what we call lookie loos. Ask qualifying questions about their readiness to buy. They can otherwise waste a lot of your time.
9. Not Clearly Understanding The Real Estate Contract And Sales Process
Your agent will always bear some responsibility for this one. Negotiating the sales contract in an optimal manner for you is where an expert professional realtor really begins to earn their money. He or she should sit down with you and be able to outline a strategy for you with regard to the negotiation and contract that takes into account all the specific attributes of your particular situation, the current market, and the transaction.
This is the time for you to ask any questions you may have as you work through the paperwork in responding to an offer. Unfortunately the paperwork has gotten more and more cumbersome each year but your realtor should be able to explain the significance of each page of the basic contract and each required form.