I used to think that buying or selling a home was easy. Of course, that was when I was seven and my only responsibilities were to ride around in the real estate agent's car. Today, I know it’s a big, complicated, grown-up world out there—and selling a home is no exception.
If you’re thinking about or already involved in selling your home, you’ll want to be sure to sidestep these common costly mistakes!
1. Overvaluing or undervaluing your home.
There are many ways to arrive at a selling price for your home, but some methods are more reliable (and thus more conducive to a quick sale) than others.
- Potential Risks: Basing your selling price on outdated real estate data (including what it was worth when you purchased it), asking only what you need to make a profit or similar biased information.
- Potential Consequences: Having a home that sits on the market and gathering the wrong kind of reputation amongst real estate agents and prospective buyers (the more price cuts you make, the more prospective buyers will want to bargain you down still further).
- Your fix: In your research, look at what comparable homes in your area are selling for, and what their final (after price cuts) selling prices have been. Also, do a survey of comparable homes that are on the market now—if all else was equal (including price), would you buy your home or another home that is currently for sale? Then set your home price accordingly.
2. Skimping on (or skipping) marketing and advertising.
Your home can only sell if prospective buyers know it’s for sale (which means proper marketing and advertising).
- Potential Risks: Assuming your real estate agent "will take care of marketing," thinking you only need to advertise locally (what about families moving to your city from somewhere else?), ignoring the power of home staging and photography to sell your home.
- Consequence: Your home sits on the market while homes around it sell.
- Your fix: Stage your home and take beautiful photographs. Then market the heck out of your home! Tell everyone you know. Mention it in your social networks. Check your agent's work. List it online locally, regionally and nationally. Put up signs in your front yard, at your local coffee shop, at the library or anywhere that an interested buyer might see it.
3. Shadowing prospective buyers as they tour the home.
Think about your last trip to the department store. Did you enjoy having the eager salesperson (who works on commission) trail you around the store, peppering you with questions and overselling everything you paused to gaze at? Probably not.
- Risk: For most people, being followed too closely brings up a totally reasonable desire to flee (this is the opposite of what you want your prospective buyers to do!).
- Consequence: The more you push, the more they back away.
- Your fix: Give your prospective buyers their space to tour at leisure, talk amongst themselves, read your materials and ask questions when they’re ready. Your relaxed and open presence can do more to sell your home than any kind of "hard sell" approach ever will.
4. Choosing the wrong real estate agent.
When you choose a real estate agent, you’re basically choosing a spokesperson for your home—and you. This is not a choice to make quickly or lightly.
- Risk: Choosing the wrong agent is an easy mistake to make. For instance, a trusted friend recommends someone, you’re in a hurry to sell and you choose before considering all the variables (marketing expertise, network, sales history, customer ratings, success in your area, etc.).
- Consequence: Your home sits on the market while those around it sell.
- Your fix: Force yourself to research and interview at least three real estate agents before you make your final selection. This will allow you to have a better idea of all your options.
5. Making it all too personal.
Yes, this is (or was) your home. Yes, you know it very well. Yes, you share a history together. But when you list your home for sale, be sure you’re ready to sell.
- Risk: Listing your home before you’re emotionally ready will show through in all kinds of ways (like leaving out all of your family photos for buyers to view).
- Consequence: Your home will not sell (at any price) because you’re not ready to leave.
- Your fix: Take your time, remove anything you want to take with you before you list, stage it to show in a neutral setting as best you can, rein in your desire to tell personal stories or offer more information than is asked for, and when the time comes—be prepared to let your home go.