The selling and buying of a house can be a stressful and confusing process. Not only is it very expensive to ‘learn from your mistakes’ but very few people move often enough to gain the needed experience.
Although there is no substitute for doing your homework (start by asking your family and friends who have recently moved for their experiences) the following list of common pitfalls may be helpful.
- Pricing incorrectly (too high or too low).
Make sure you determine the market value of your home correctly: If your asking price is significantly higher than what the market is currently bearing, many potential buyers looking for your style of home will view similar but lower priced homes first. Not only does this limit the pool of potential buyers but it also increases the chances that your home will sell for less than it’s actual value. This is due to the “discount” often associated with properties that have been on the market for a longer than average time. Buyers are often overheard asking their agent, “What’s wrong with that home? It’s been for sale forever.” Alternatively, if your asking price is too low, you are literally giving away your hard-earned equity just because you did not know what the market would bear.
- Failing to “showcase” your home.
A little work can improve the first impression of your home a thousand-fold. First impressions are lasting impressions and can dramatically affect a property’s perceived value.
- Mistaking a bank’s appraisal or a new tax assessment as your home’s actual market value.
These processes are based on general guidelines such as lot size and square footage, not the specific qualities and improvements of your home. Using either of these as a baseline could cause you to over-price or under-price your property. It requires detailed background knowledge of all recent neighborhood sales as well as homes currently for sale in order to estimate value accurately. Ask your REALTOR® for a detailed market evaluation.
- Choosing the wrong REALTOR® or choosing a REALTOR® for the wrong reasons.
It is critical that you have full confidence in your agent’s experience and abilities. You want a REALTOR® who can explain the whole selling process to you, has a good feel for the market, has access to potential buyers and offers sound advice on how to improve your chances of selling. Try to avoid choosing a REALTOR® on the basis of which one gives the highest estimate of your home’s value. In order to achieve the best sale price within a reasonable period of time you need an accurate indication of what the true market value of your property is. Knowing this allows you to properly price your home, thus maximizing your chances of selling and allowing you to make your future plans with the sure knowledge that your goals can be attained.
- Failing to take current market conditions/trends into account.
Is it a buyer’s market, a seller’s market, a balanced market? What do future trends look like? Ask your REALTOR® for a full analysis.
- Not taking advantage of market fluctuation.
Moving up in a market downturn? If your $150,000 home has dropped 10% in value, so has your $300,000 dream home. Yes, you lose $15,000 on your current home, but you save $30,000 on your next purchase! Always keep in mind the big picture.
- Using “hard sell” during showings.
No one likes being pressured. As well, buyers might wonder why you are so anxious to sell. Let your home speak for itself.
- Mistaking “lookers” for “buyers.”
Many people who look at homes for sale may just be getting a feel for the market, seeing how others ‘showcase’ their homes, or even just looking for decorating ideas. Your REALTOR® deals with these situations on a full-time basis and has the experience needed to separate the “lookers” from the actual “buyers.”
- Relying too heavily on advice from the buyer’s REALTOR®.
The interests of buyers and sellers are often opposing. In an agency relationship it is very difficult for one REALTOR® to look out for the interests of both the buyer and the seller. You want to make sure you are familiar with real estate relationships and the difference between being a client or a customer before accepting advice from an agent or entering into any formal relationship with an agent.
- Limiting the marketing and exposure of your property.
Part of what a good REALTOR® does is to ensure that your property is showcased and marketed in the best and most productive manner possible. Not allowing a “For Sale” sign on the front yard, or limiting viewing times can dramatically reduce the number of prospective purchasers seeing your home and have a serious impact on your bottom line.