The Top 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a House
These common pitfalls could cost you big time
You’ve reached the next chapter of your life, and it’s time to start thinking about selling your house.
It’s been a long journey.
There’s been a lot of life lived in that old house. And a lot of good memories.
But now it’s time to leave the familiarity and comfort of your old house and move on. It’s time to sell.
Selling a house. What an ordeal! Finalizing a transaction worth hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn’t just happen at the snap of a finger. Selling a house takes refined judgement. And even though you may not think of it that way, it takes good business sense too.
Think of selling a house as a business enterprise. And as a business person, you have to make your decisions objectively, using strategic judgment and clear thinking free of emotional attachment.
So before you move forward with the sale of your house, make sure you know what you’re doing. That means doing your research, understanding the pitfalls, and making sure you avoid mistakes. After all, those mistakes could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Here at Rhino Realty Triad, we’re ready to help. Here’s a list of the 6 most common mistakes made by house sellers. Don’t let these pitfalls happen to you.
Poor Marketing When Selling Your House
It sounds obvious. Of course, market your house if you want to sell it. The trouble is, as the person who has lived there for years, you’re too familiar with the house to see it the way others see it. What looks normal to you after all these years might seem ugly to potential buyers seeing your house for the first time. And after all, yours isn’t the only house on the market.
So make your house look appealing, inside and out. Spruce up the curb appeal with some clean edging and strategically located flowers. Fix the little problem areas in the house. Small things like leaky faucets, smudges on the walls, stained carpets. Things you’re used to but to a potential buyer will detract from their impression of your house.
One caveat: Do not allow extensive home-improvement projects to be ongoing while the house is being listed and shown. The completion of these projects becomes a contingency that complicates the selling process. Finish home improvements before listing the house—if you even choose to do any at all.
Also, depersonalize the house. Pack away the kids’ drawings and the wedding pictures. Let the buyer imagine the house as it will look when it is theirs.
Hiring a professional to stage your house is a smart investment. Professionals see your house objectively and know what buyers want to see. In fact, 95% of staged houses sell, on average, in 11 days or less and for 17% above the asking price compared to those not staged.
And professional house stagers post professional pictures of your house on the internet, not just cell phone snapshots that might look great to you but aren’t really professional grade.
When a house is well staged, it is generally preferred that the house be shown without the seller present. However, many house sellers are reluctant to allow frequent showings because they don’t want to have to spend time elsewhere. That too is a mistake. Try to keep your viewing schedule as open as possible so that prospective buyers don’t have to try too hard to find and schedule a time that works to see the house.
Mistake # 2
False advertising is illegal and can result in a lawsuit. That includes not only making false claims but failing to disclose hidden problems.
But false advertising of either type can also impede your sale. When the buyer finds out you have been even slightly deceptive, or have failed to disclose even a minor flaw, it destroys trust and makes the potential buyer wonder what else you’re hiding.
Here’s one extreme example. Here, in a photograph, a house seller in Sydney, Australia, managed to hide a massive water tower behind the house by using a deceptive camera angle (and probably photoshopping).
The unfortunate prospective buyer of the house later remarked, “I feel swindled.”
Of course, you wouldn’t do that, but be as upfront and honest as possible.
That being said, you can say too much. Don’t volunteer extraneous information like, “This house has been on the market for six months, and we still haven’t got an offer.” Or, “We’ve dropped the price three times.” Such comments will only encourage the buyer to low-ball you.
Good communication is paramount to a smooth real estate transaction. Bad communication can doom a deal from the very start.
Good communication requires all parties to be honest, transparent, and proactive. A buyer shouldn’t have to pull information out of a seller—they should share the necessary information freely and willingly. This establishes trust and prevents problems from cropping up at a later date and time.
It’s also critical that the buyers’ and sellers’ agents have an open channel of communication. In a hot market, failing to follow up could quickly cost you a deal. And in a slower market, it could stretch out an already long sales process.
As the seller, make sure that you’re actively participating in the process and sharing your perspective as it unfolds. If something doesn’t seem right or you have a question, don’t wait. Let your agent know so they can deal with it promptly to ensure a much smoother transaction.
Mistake # 4
Failing to Price Your House Appropriately
You love your old house. It holds many sentimental memories, and you’ve put a lot of tender loving care into it over the years.
But buyers don’t care about that. They want a house they like, but they also want to pay the right price. If you’ve set your asking price far above the market, most potential buyers won’t even consider looking at your house.
If you’re not sure what your house is worth, make sure you get multiple comparables to determine the right price. Remember that while “market value” isn’t necessarily the same as “list price,” setting the right asking price at the start of a sale will help attract buyers quickly. This allows your house to get exposure and, hopefully, sell at a reasonable price within a reasonable timeframe.
And don’t get too caught up in thinking about when to sell, such as year-end or spring. If the market is good, if the house is nice and presented well, and if the price is right, the house will sell any time of the year.
And although you don’t want to frighten buyers with too high of an asking price, don’t leave money on the table by asking too little. This can even be counter-productive. If you’re asking below market value, many potential buyers assume there must be something wrong with your house.
Not Getting a Pre-Purchase Inspection Before Selling Your House
You want your house to be ready to show. You spruce it up, get a professional to stage your house, but what if there are problems you don’t even know about?
Don’t let a potential buyer discover these problems before you do. Get the kinks worked out before listing to ensure a smooth, easy, and trouble-free sales process.
Get a pre-purchase inspection. This way, you can provide the buyer with honest full disclosure, and even better, fix any problems before the potential buyer even sees your house. If your house has an offer from a buyer who is concerned about uncertain repair costs, it’s usually because the seller didn’t consult with an inspector before putting their house on the market.
It’s worth noting that buyers generally expect pre-purchase inspections. Therefore, not having a pre-purchase inspection could turn off potential buyers looking for peace of mind before making an offer for such a significant purchase.
Not Hiring the Right Real Estate Agent to Sell Your House
First of all, as a person using business principles to sell your house, you should delegate operations to trusted and competent experts. The best way to avoid all the mistakes listed above and many others is to delegate the marketing of your house to a good real estate agent.
Studies have proven the efficacy of using real estate agents to sell houses over and over again. For example, less than 10% of houses that started out being sold as for sale by owner actually got sold by the owner. One study found that houses that were for sale by owner fetched about 30% less for their owners than when agents were engaged in selling a house.
But it’s not enough to just hire just any agent. Which agent you hire is crucial.
Before choosing an agent you should take into account the following considerations:
- How much experience do they have?
- How much of a web presence and marketing skills do they have?
- How well do they listen to you and your needs?
- Do they seem desperate by making outlandish claims far beyond the norm?
- Do they appear professional and make you feel comfortable?
Furthermore, before choosing, check out the agent’s licensing and credentials, and talk with past clients. In an interview with the agent, be sure to find out:
- How the agent plans to market your house
- What their negotiating style is
- Whether they require a contract and for how long
- How they plan to stay in communication
- What current listings they have that might be in competition with yours
Just like with everything else in life, not all real estate agents are equal. Picking the right one can mean a much faster and smoother sale and thousands of dollars in increased revenue from the sale of your house. So do your research and choose wisely.
Rhino Realty Triad
Hopefully, when the time comes to sell your house, you will avoid these common mistakes and maximize the profit on the sale.
But if selling residential real estate has so many subtle nuances, think of how much more complicated it is to buy or sell commercial real estate.
For all your commercial real estate needs in the greater Greensboro, NC, area, consult with the professionals at Rhino Realty Triad.