Common Mistakes When Selling Your Home

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Selling your home can seem like a minefield. There are so many things to consider: which real estate agent to go with, how much to advertise the home for, competition from other sellers in the area, the costs that you might incur throughout the process, the list goes on.

Mistakes are made and selling a property will always be a learning experience, particularly if it’s your first time. While it’s important to be flexible and receptive to potential buyers and any changing circumstances or unexpected occurrences, it’s also important to go into this process with a good level of basic knowledge around what it is you hope to get out of it, and what it is that you’re able to offer as a seller.

Here you will find some basic tips to help you avoid common mistakes when selling your home. These tips will assist you in selling your home with minimal mistakes made, reducing the potential for unexpected costs and other issues or delays throughout the selling process.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home

1. Not Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Selling your home independently without the help of a real estate agent may be tempting. As the fees that come along with selling your home begin to accumulate, you might be considering ways of cutting costs and saving money, but going without an agent altogether is usually not the best way to do it.

Real estate agents are highly skilled and should have extensive knowledge that proves invaluable when it comes to selling your home. Commission rates might seem high, but when it comes to negotiating on sales or dealing with any unexpected problems that may arise, agents really prove their worth.

Not only will your estate agent handle negotiations, paperwork and communications with potential buyers, but they’re also great at garnering interest and attention, significantly increasing your chance of an efficient sale at your desired price.

It’s also important to remember that not all agents charge the same rates. Compare the rates of a few different agents when you are choosing one to represent you. The traditional cost is 6% of the home’s selling price (3% to the seller’s agent and 3% to the buyer’s agent), but some agents offer reduced commission. Getting that 6% down to 5% or less can make a big difference in the fees that you’ll pay, and you’ll still get the services of a professional. This article on discount real estate agents and brokers covers the details of a few options.

2. Hiring the Wrong Real Estate Agent

So you’ve decided to hire a real estate agent, brilliant! But choosing an inexperienced or unskilled agent could be more detrimental to the sale of your home than not hiring one at all.

You might have a family member or friend who is a newly practicing real estate agent and offers to work on your behalf. If they’re offering lower commission rates or a closer working relationship, this might seem appealing. It’s so important though that you use a realtor with extensive experience and a great deal of knowledge in this field, regardless of friendships or family loyalty.

While it’s great to support your friends or family in their business endeavors, particularly if they’re just starting out, entrusting them with the sale of your home might not be the best way to do this. It’s likely that this will be the most significant amount of money you have to deal with in your lifetime, so be sure to choose a reputable, experienced professional to help you through the process.

3. Overestimating Your Home’s Value

It’s very common for homeowners to overestimate the value of their own home. We love our homes and sometimes we tend to overlook the flaws because we’re used to them or because we like the other details of the home and overlook the negatives. Our homes mean a lot to us, but that shouldn’t cloud our judgment regarding the true value of the home.

When it comes to selling you home, it’s important to be realistic and offer a reasonable asking price. Advertising your home at a value that is inordinately high in comparison to others in the area is likely to be immediately offputting to prospective buyers. Again, this is where a great real estate agent should guide and advise you, enabling you to agree on a reasonable, realistic asking price. Zillow and Redfin also provide estimates of home values that may be helpful.

4. Expecting a Full-Price Offer

Buying a home generally entails lots of negotiations. Buyers are unlikely to initially offer you the full asking price. They’re much more likely to place a lower offer in the hopes of compromising and agreeing on a price to suit both parties.

As a seller, whether or not you choose to accept the lower offer is entirely up to you. It’s also largely dependent on the current level of interest. If you have more than one prospective buyer, the sale becomes competitive, so you can usually end up with a higher price as the two buyers aim to outbid one another.

A good real estate agent will usually advise that you advertise the house for a price that is slightly higher than the expected sale price (while still being reasonable and realistic) so that when it comes to negotiations you’re able to drop the price slightly, while still receiving an amount you’re happy with. 

5. Underestimating the Costs of Selling

It’s easy to get caught up in the asking price and how much you are able to gain from selling your home. This is often the main incentive for selling, and if you have a good awareness of housing market trends and selling in general, many people are able to make substantial profits when it comes to buying and selling properties.

However, it is equally important to consider the costs that you as a seller will incur when it comes to the sale of your home. In general, real estate agents will charge a commission fee of around 6% of the total sale price. This is fairly standard and most sellers are well aware of this. Additional costs that crop up and may catch you off guard might include further fees attributed to closing costs, repair costs, or seller’s assistance that helps the buyer with their own closing costs.

In some cases, these costs will need to be covered prior to the exchange of contracts and the handing over of keys. So you may need to have this money readily available before you have received the sum for the property. Be sure to read the small print and be fully aware of any costs and when they need to be paid.

For more details, please see our article on the costs of buying and selling a home.

6. Using Low-Quality Photos for the Listing

Good quality photos are extremely valuable resource when it comes to advertising and selling your home. A good real estate agent will be sure that professional-quality photos are used to make your listing capture as much attention as possible.

These days, open houses are dwindling in popularity and prospective buyers are much more inclined to search for homes online prior to arranging a private viewing. Good quality photos that accurately display the property’s best features will entice more viewings and more interest.

Photos should be high-resolution, well-lit, and taken from good angles. You want to show the property at its absolute best, while not deceiving buyers or altering the size or layout.

7. Hiding or Not Disclosing Significant Problems

Being open with your buyers and making them aware of any necessary repairs or problems is of paramount importance when selling your home.

Failure to disclose such things is often a breach of contracts and will result in you having additional costs to pay, or even legal action being taken. Most buyers will have an independent inspection of the property, looking out for any breaches in current building standards or potential problems that may arise in the future. So it’s really not worth trying to hide these things, they will rear their heads at one stage or another.

Not only will this increase the costs incurred on your part, but it’s also likely to set a negative precedent between you and the buyer. Attempting to deceive them in some way is likely to result in them reducing their offer or even pulling out of the sale entirely.

8. Not Getting Rid of the Clutter

This is important throughout all stages of the selling process.

When it comes to photographing your home and carrying out viewings, clutter or mess will immediately reduce its desirability. It might make the home appear smaller, not well cared for, and just generally less appealing to potential buyers. Presenting a home that is clutter-free will instill the belief that it has been well maintained, so reducing the worry of hidden issues or repairs.

It’s also incredibly important that you remove all clutter before vacating the property. If the buyer arrives on moving day to find the home or garage is filled with old unwanted items, it could cause issues with the closing of the sale.

9. Not Staging the Home

When getting rid of the clutter prior to photographs being taken or buyers coming to view the property, it’s also worthwhile staging the space in order to present it in its best possible format.

There are professionals who are available to provide this service. Staging the home in a way that is likely to maximize its desirability and show it at its fullest potential.

Alternatively, you might choose to do this yourself. Either way, a quick clean and tidy and maybe the moving round of some furniture to make the home appear bigger, lighter, and more appealing is sure to increase interest and therefore the chance of a sale.

10. Not Accommodating Buyers

Being flexible when it comes to selling your home is essential. If there is a good level of interest in the home, you might be asked to vacate the property for several hours while the buyer’s agent carries out private viewings. Ideally, you want to have as much interest and traffic as possible.

We’re not suggesting that you move out completely to allow for 24/7 access to prospective buyers, but being accommodating to as many buyers as possible means more people viewing the home and seeing its potential.

It also shows you to be a cooperative and helpful seller, something that buyers value highly as it gives a good inclination that the sale is likely to be stress-free and easy.

Conclusion

Selling your home can be an emotional time, especially if you have put a lot of time and love into your home and have made great memories there.

Following these tips in reducing the mistakes many sellers make will help to reduce the unnecessary stress that can come along with this process. Use these to reduce unexpected costs and to aid you in achieving an efficient, straightforward sale.