Real estate transactions are among the biggest financial exchanges homeowners encounter in their lives. If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ll want to get the biggest return on this investment possible, so it’s important to position yourself – and your home – in the best light. Here are ten common mistakes that translate into lost dollars for home sellers.
- Not hiring a REALTOR®
You may think you can save money by selling your home yourself, but the benefits of using a real estate agent far outweigh the commission. On average, homes sold with a REALTOR® sell for more than a FSBO (for sale by owner). A good agent knows the market conditions inside out and has access to the most recent market data, helping you best determine market value and pricing strategy.
Agents also know how to get your house noticed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and through other forms of digital marketing and have an established audience of people looking to buy in your neighborhood.
A good agent knows how to navigate even the most complicated situations. Expertise in liability, property disclosures and contracts is imperative when selling your home. One small mistake can ruin the sale.
- Not preparing for costs associated with the sale
Home sellers are often so focused on the money they’ll receive from the sale of their home, they forget about the expenses involved. Be sure to budget for real estate commissions, home repairs and improvements, home staging, inspection, moving, and closing costs.
- Keeping your home too personalized
Prospective buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home. As much as you love your kids, family photos and other personal items are barriers to buyers’ feelings of ownership. Remove anything in your home that is personalized: photos, children’s artwork, framed certificates, trophies, refrigerator posts, collections.
- Acting as your own photographer
Leave the marketing photos to the pros. Unless you are truly a professional photographer with particular experience in real estate photography and videography, it’s important to work with a photographer who knows how to make your house shine. First impressions matter – and these are typically formed while prospective buyers are searching for homes on their cell phones or computers. Your cell phone snapshots just can’t compete with wide-angle lenses, professional lighting, aerial photography, drones, virtual staging, and more.
- Pricing too high
No one wants to leave money on the table by selling their house for less than it’s worth, but overpricing can be harmful to the sale, too. Houses that are on the market for longer than the average time can become stigmatized. Listen to your agent, and study the comps. A comparative market analysis will help you set the right price from the start, getting you a faster sale and saving you from frustration.
- Forgoing major repairs
If you think your buyer won’t mind – or won’t notice – that roof leak or mold in the basement, think again. Buyers have become savvier and what they may not recognize as a problem, the home inspector will. Major problems could delay your closing and even terminate the deal. It’s better to confront issues before listing your home, rather than scrambling later. Consider getting a home inspection before putting your house on the market to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
- Failing to declutter
Your beautiful hardwood floors won’t be appreciated if they’re covered in toys or too much furniture. If your house is sloppy, too busy and/or disorganized, it will discourage buyers. Clean horizontal surfaces, removing piles of paperwork, toys, nicknacks, and anything that can be stored in drawers, cabinets, storage bins, or moving boxes. Give away or throw away as much as you can. Buyers want a home that looks spacious, clean, and serene.
- Forgetting the importance of landscaping/curb appeal
The exterior of your house can take a beating from the elements. Now’s the time to make it shine. Pressure-wash your house, deck, driveway, fence, walkways. Wash your windows. Weed and mulch your garden. Stain and waterproof your deck. Re-paint cracked or lackluster painted surfaces. Clean and polish door hardware and exterior lighting. Keep the lawn mowed. Consider upgrading landscaping. Wow potential buyers before they even get out of the car.
- Being too emotional
Your home has been your sanctuary – a place where you’ve sought refuge and relaxed, and held celebrations with family and friends. Naturally, you have an emotional attachment, but now you are entering into a business deal. And just like you depersonalize your decor, you’ll need to depersonalize the deal.
Don’t take lowball offers personally. Do be willing to negotiate. The more you can think of your house as a commodity and less as home sweet home, the better off you’ll be throughout the selling process.
- Not staging your home
Home staging is popular in higher-priced listings, but is becoming more commonplace in general. Home improvement shows have raised expectations in decor.
Depending on the advice of your agent, staging a home could increase an offer price by up to 10%. Staging can transform a home, making it appear newer and move-in ready.
If you have already moved out of the home you’re selling, staging is critical. An empty house seems less like a home. On the other end of the spectrum, having too much furniture is also detrimental.
Professional staging companies know how to best market your home, whether it’s a condo or a mansion. Most companies offer a range of services from à la carte pricing to full packages that can include ambience (think music and scents!) and photography.
The bottom line? Refer back to tip #1: Hire a good REALTOR®. An experienced agent has seen the full gamut of real estate sales. They know what works and what doesn’t. Rely on their expertise and step-by-step management to streamline success.
Download this list of things to avoid when selling a home.