Home prices are continuing to inch up, and latest Price and Rent Monitor shows that home prices are up 8% year-over-year nationally, with 93 of the 100 largest metros clocking quarter-over-quarter price increases. This trend also holds true here in Mammoth Lakes California. Many homes that had been underwater during the housing downturn are now finally worth more than the amount owed on them.
With the positive momentum in the market, more home owners are ready to put their homes on the market and are looking for a quick sale. While conditions are right, sellers need to have realistic expectations. When prices are up and inventory is down, it is common for sellers to become overconfident and careless with their sale.
Here are eight of the top ways sellers sabotage their own home sale.
1. Refusing to Make Obvious Repairs Prior to Sale.
Showing a house when there are leaking faucets, cracks in the walls, water stains on the ceiling, and a broken hot water heater are all ways to turn off potential buyers. Spend money before selling to make needed repairs. These repairs will add value to your home.
2. Ignoring the Outside
Everybody knows that fantastic front curb appeal sells homes, but many sellers forget what’s out back. However, I find in Mammoth Lakes many sellers ignore the curb appeal because there is “nothing they can do about the condo complex appearance.” These people are only partially right — you cannot change the exterior of the entire complex, but you can make your front door/porch area shine. Simple things like cleaning the front door and any windows, replacing the door mat and sweeping the area and adding flowers can make a difference. If there is a back deck/porch, make it inviting by staging this area in addition to the interior of your home.
3. Hiding Problem Issues From the Buyers.
Disclose everything! Once you have an accepted offer, sellers are required to fill out disclosure statements. If you did renovations to the house without a permit over the years, disclose. If there was a roof leak that damaged the ceiling two years ago, disclose. If the electrical blows every time you run the dishwasher and the microwave at the same time, disclose. You know the history of the home better than anyone and the buyers will find out eventually. And if you knowingly have kept things from them, it sets the tone for an ugly and difficult closing. Not to mention that you are setting yourself up for the liability
4. Getting Egotistical When Negotiating
Even when you receive an extremely low offer, keep in mind the buyer doesn’t mean to offend the seller. The buyer may even know that the home is outside of their price range, but they may just love it so much that they couldn’t resist making an offer. Too many sellers take negotiations personally and lose out on creating a win-win deal. Real estate transactions are business deals. There is no room for ego here. If an offer comes in low, the mistake is to be insulted and not counter back. Always counter back and keep deals in play. Keep your ego out of the equation and put your head back into it. Remember your end goal: getting your house sold and having a smooth and successful closing.
5. Using Lousy Photos (and Not Helping your Agent Get Great Ones)
Ninety percent of all home shoppers start their home search online, and nothing can tank a home sale like terrible listing photos. But sometimes sellers don’t understand the importance of fantastic listing pictures—and that can mean that agents need to resort to grabbing a few fast photos on a cell phone or on a rainy day. After all, the only thing worse than terrible listing photos are listings with no photos at all. Think back to when you were originally looking for a home. Even if you were house hunting when online wasn’t a huge thing, you probably remember that seeing a home told you more about it than any text ever could. Even in a seller’s market, great photos can help draw in the best buyers—the ones who will be willing to make a big offer on this property.
6. Holding On to Clutter and Junk
Get rid of the “junk.” Buyers will not see past the boxes, overflowing shelves and your personal knick-knack collections. Clutter makes your home seem smaller, ultimately eating equity and killing deals. Take inventory of all your possessions and think to yourself: should I save it, store it, sell it, or trash it? It may seem like a solid amount of work, but one weekend of work could mean thousands of dollars come closing.
7. Selling A House Via “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO).
When the market is hot, many people think that selling their home on their own is easily doable. “Who wouldn’t want to save on commission?” think many sellers. Despite the lure of not having to pay an agent a commission, sellers need the expertise and know-how of a professional, who can help navigate the stacks of paperwork, provide priceless neighborhood knowledge—and negotiate on the seller’s behalf. The typical FSBO home sold for 18% less than agent-assisted home sales.
8. Overpricing the Home
This is the one major seller mistake that happens most often. It is a misstep that seems to rear its head whenever the market seems like it’s heating up. Overpricing your home is dangerous —and you can end up burned in this ‘hot market.’ You run the risk that your home will sit on the market for weeks and months and become the stale listing that every home seller wants to avoid. Know the competition and set the right price—never overprice too high in hopes that someone will unknowingly overpay.
There they are—the biggest selling mistakes.