February 28

6 Ways to Screw Up Selling a Home


Selling a home might not seem like rocket science, but rest assured, there’s a lot to consider—and a lot of money on the line. As such, home sellers can really sabotage their own efforts in so many ways.

Curious about what could go wrong? Check out these six classic ways home sellers bungle their prospects so you don’t become the next victim.

1. You priced your house too high

Even when you’re in a seller’s market (where inventory is in short supply and buyers are bidding up a storm for homes – just like we have today), you should set a reasonable listing price for your house. Unfortunately, “some people have unrealistic expectations of the market,” says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA.

“A lot of people price high because they want room to negotiate, but that strategy can backfire, since you might not get any offers,” Lejeune says.

So, to set the right asking price for your house, you’ll want to trust your real estate agent to do a comparative market analysis, a process that assesses the value of a home by comparing it to similar properties that recently sold nearby.

2. You skimped on professional photos

You can have the most sought-after home on the block, but if you don’t take good listing photos you may have trouble even getting buyers in the door. Hence, it’s worth hiring a professional real estate photographer to snap pictures instead of taking them yourself on your smartphone.

Most real estate photographers are reasonably priced—a basic shoot generally costs between $95 and $300, says FitSmallBusiness.com—and the payoff can be huge. Studies have shown that professionally photographed homes sell faster and for more money than homes listed with point-and-shoot cameras.

3. You tried to make home repairs yourself

Before putting your house on the market, you may have to do some repairs. Doing repairs yourself can save you money, but it can also create expensive problems if you make mistakes.

Indeed, “you can wind up damaging your house if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Lejeune says.

Consequently, it’s worth hiring a handyman or certified contractor, depending on the nature of the work, to make important home repairs.

“Problems with hot water heaters, plumbing, duct work, and electrical issues should always be handled by a licensed professional,” Lejeune adds.

4. You stuck around during showings

Having the seller present during a showing or open house can be a huge turnoff to a home buyer, says Jennifer Baxter, associate broker at Re/Max Regency in Suwanee, GA.

“Even if you don’t say anything to the buyer, it’s just awkward,” Baxter says. “When the seller is there, buyers don’t feel comfortable to speak freely or open closet doors and look closely at the house.”

The solution is simple: Just vacate the premises when buyers view the house.

“Let your agent represent you and handle all interactions with potential home buyers,” Lejeune advises.

5. You withheld information from buyers

Sure, you want to show your home in the best light, but not disclosing any flaws you’re aware of—like, say, a previous flood or termite damage—could come back and haunt you. For one, a home inspection might reveal this info anyway and your home buyer will be none too pleased that you kept your lips zipped. Not disclosing certain flaws is also illegal in some areas so it might even open you to a lawsuit.

Therefore, make sure you fess up to home buyers on any issues you’re aware of—which should all be provided to the home buyers in a document known as the property disclosure statement. Sure, it might scare off home buyers, but probably not—and it’s way better than getting caught hiding info afterward.

6. You let your ego get in the way

Some home sellers get so fixated on getting their full list price, they simply turn down offers that are below the bar. But that closed-minded approach can have big repercussions.

“If you’re not willing to make counteroffers, you’re probably not serious about selling your house,” Baxter says. Granted, “if you’re comfortable with your house sitting on the market for a while, you could try to hold out for a full-price offer. But if you want to sell your house in a reasonable period of time, you need to entertain offers that are below list price.”

Bear in mind if your house sits on the market for a while, it can make it more difficult to sell.

“If a home is on the market for more than four weeks, prospective buyers are going to assume that there is something wrong with it,” says Irvine, CA, real estate agent Benny Kang.

In other words, time is a-ticking! Any offer is worth considering, so try not to take it personally.

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