Realtors Say These Are the Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make

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Realtors Say These Are the Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Selling your home can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the ins and outs of the sales process in your state. Knowing common mistakes and how to avoid them can save money, time, and heartbreak. Premiere DC real estate agent, Kimberly Diggs, and Long & Foster Sales Agent, Maria Forman, say some of the biggest mistakes boil down to cutting corners. From pricing the home without professional help to ignoring suggested repairs, home sellers can become their own worst enemies. Luckily, you can prep for success by avoiding these common stumbles and heeding advice from experts.

Home Seller Mistake #1: Doing it Yourself

Choosing to sell your home by yourself, also known as For Sale by Owner (FSBO), can be a big mistake for home sellers who have no prior background in real estate. Chances are, if you’re not a working real estate agent, you won’t know the latest regulations on home sales in your market or best way to handle showings, pricing, and negotiation.

“Attempting to sell a home on your own is not only incredibly time-consuming but risky,” Diggs says. “Realtors have access to tools and resources to streamline the home-selling process. They are also continually trained on local laws and contracts to ensure their clients are adhering to local, state, and federal laws.” Every jurisdiction has different requirements for what a seller must disclose to a purchaser and these rules can change. “Failing to disclose material or latent defects of a home can end up costing the seller a great deal in legal fees,” Diggs warns.

Sellers may think they’re saving money and time by acting as their own agent, but there’s a lot more to selling a home than taking great pictures and booking showings. FSBO homes can face staging challenges and take longer to receive offers. It’s best to have an advocate—a real estate lawyer or agent—to help home sellers navigate the tough terrain.

Home Seller Mistake #2: Not Using a Reputable Agent

A common reason why home sellers avoid hiring real estate agents is to avoid paying the commission. Usually, sellers pay both the seller’s and the buyer’s agents. This means most sellers can expect to pay between 6 and 8 percent of the purchase price in commissions to the agents on both sides of the deal. This is why many home sellers choose to sell by themselves or to go with an agent who offers low or no commissions. While this might seem like a good idea at the outset, home sellers could run into problems with getting the best service or the full attention of a cut-rate agent. Inexperienced agents or those with a questionable past may be willing to offer low commissions in order to rebuild their reputation, but that’s not really in the seller’s best interest.

Forman advises home sellers to, “hire a good, reputable real estate agent who knows your area. They will help you do a comparative market analysis to price your home correctly and get the most exposure of your property to potential buyers. In addition, they can provide invaluable advice for your home.”

Diggs adds, “One of the worse mistakes a homeowner can make is not pricing their home in line with comparable sales and market conditions.” Pricing your home too high might turn away qualified, ready, and able buyers, leaving it on the market for a long time. Pricing it too low will rob you of thousands of dollars. Either way, a reputable agent can help deliver a speedy and well-priced sale.

Also, a good agent brings marketing and advertising support, including professional photography. Most potential homebuyers first see the home they eventually buy online. Thus, outstanding photography is critical. Forman says that home sellers should avoid taking their own photos or letting their agents do it. Most reputable agents will hire an experienced real estate photographer for this very important task.

A good agent is well worth their commission, so home sellers would be wise not to skimp on this important step.

Home Seller Mistake #3: Neglecting Upkeep

“Some sellers do an amazing job getting their homes in immaculate condition for photos and their market debut, but as time passes, they fail to maintain their home’s pristine appearance,” says Diggs. Sellers should be sure to continue upkeep, such as cleaning and lawn service, until the sale closes.

Forman adds that home sellers who live in their homes have to be sure the home is really clean before showing it. “Decluttering and depersonalizing it should be the first step,” she says. But, keeping it clean before every showing—making beds, putting away laundry, washing dishes, and minimizing clutter—ensures a positive first impression for each and every potential buyer.

“Add some landscaping out front, paint areas that look worn or dirty, and clean the windows—this makes a HUGE impact on the overall look and feel of the space. If the property is vacant, consider hiring a stager,” Forman suggests. Also, keep the hot tub cover free of debris like leaves. Staging a home often leads to quicker sales and increases the sale price.

However, it can be hard to live in a spot-free home without leaving any trace behind. So, some sellers choose to live with friends or family after their house goes on the market, or families might feel better checking into a temporary hotel or extended-stay apartment. Having the sellers out of the home can make it easier to ensure that impromptu showings are just as quick and clean as scheduled ones.

Home Seller Mistake #4: Avoiding Minor Fixes

No seller wants to overspend on a house they plan to sell. However, buyers can be picky and detail-oriented. This means minor fixes might become major turn-offs. Owner-occupants rarely want to move to a place that needs several repairs. After all, with home prices and interest rates so high, they may not want to fork over more money in the immediate turn to tackle a series of minor annoyances. Thus, to attract a wider pool of potential buyers, sellers would be wise to repair small nicks, dents, and damage proactively, along with tackling any larger, necessary repairs.

“Sellers know their homes better than anyone, and they really should not bypass addressing issues they are well aware of,” Diggs adds. “Sometimes buyers perceive a litany of small issues as an overall lack of maintenance and walk away from a deal.”

Final Thoughts

Selling a home is often an overwhelming undertaking. But home sellers can make things go more smoothly by avoiding common mistakes that prolong the process. A 100 percent DIY approach is likely to make it harder to sell the home for top dollar. Plus, the months of stress from managing offers, staging the home, handling repairs, and finalizing closing negotiations can make the process all the more exhausting.

Hiring a reputable agent and following their sage advice can help home sellers find the right buyer to seal the deal quickly.

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