When selling a home… every seller wants the same thing – TO SELL FOR THE MOST MONEY and in the SHORTEST TIME POSSIBLE.
As a real estate professional… this is exactly what I want for you too. With that said, there are usually just two things that might be keeping this from happening. PRICE and CONDITION.
After location (which we can’t change)… price and condition are always the deciding factors for buyers. Consequently price and condition have a direct impact on the amount that a buyer may offer.
Here’s the good news… as the seller… YOU CONTROL PRICE and YOU CONTROL CONDITION.
So – whether you’re thinking of selling, or if you’re trying to sell right now and having a hard time – let’s take a look at the top five ways that you might be sabatoging your own sale.
MISTAKE #1: THINKING YOUR HOUSE IS SPECIAL.
As a homeowner, you are proud of your home. You might even think it’s superior to all others in your neighborhood. This might be because of the time and money you spent remodeling it. Perhaps you hand-picked every slat of Brazilian Hardwood and personally laid it, or chose a ridiculously expensive gold leaf wallpaper that you just had to have. You may assume if you spend a lot of money on bells and whistles, that MUST make it worth more, right? Wrong.
Buyers are looking at your home, trying to envision it as their home. They’re easily distracted by your loud, hot pink bedroom walls and won’t consider that it was a custom color made to match the loud pink zebra comforter and matching curtains. They’re also mentally calculating how much money they need to spend to refinish those hardwood floors, repaint and have that wallpaper removed.
(SIDE NOTE: 80% of people hate wallpaper, The other 20% hate YOUR wallpaper.)
You must understand your house isn’t special to anyone but you, so it’s always best to cater to buyers by showing them your homes cleanest, most neutral face. You need to scrub your home until it shines, ditch the clutter, paint, make needed repairs, and keep up with your landscaping.
And if you’ve hired (or ARE hiring) a professional real estate agent then you need to trust them on where to price your home. Because if you can’t, don’t or won’t trust them (and by THEM, I also mean ME)… then what’s the point? Don’t trust the tax assessor… don’t trust the Zillow “zestimate”… and don’t trust the idea that since a neighbor is ASKING for a million dollars, then BY DEFAULT your home must be worth a million and ONE dollars
Trust the person whose job it is to protect YOUR best interests.
And remember one important thing: Just because you spent $50,000 on a kitchen remodel doesn’t mean you’re getting every penny back (despite what your shoebox full of receipts might be telling you). Money spent does not always equate to an equal (or better) return on that investment.
MISTAKE #2: THINKING YOU’RE A SALESPERSON
As a seller you may think you’re being helpful by sticking around during showings to help agents and potential buyers see how special your home is. You might think the buyer’s agent can’t possibly know how to showcase your home as well as you can, or have any clue what the really important things are to point out.
So you stick around, you smile super big and you’re super nice to everyone. You point out the hardwood floors, custom wallpaper and things that you love about the house, because you are a better salesperson than some real estate agent who has never lived there, right?
Here’s what you’re hoping. That you’re connecting with the potential buyer. That you’re coming across as being super nice. That you’re being helpful and enlightening.
But in reality… while gushing over all the things you love, those may be the very things the buyer hates. Instead of connecting, you’re disconnecting from that potential buyer. You may even being coming across as being super annoying, cocky or even creepy.
Most people are innately nice. So buyers will greet you with a smile and be kind about your home as they’re speaking to you. But, in my experience, it’s extremely common that those nice buyers were just looking for the exit the entire time you were talking to them so that they could go about THEIR JOB of judging your home without offending you. The biggest complaint of most FSBO (For Sale By Owner) Sellers… is that the people who came to see the home TOTALLY loved the house, but never made an offer. That’s because the majority of people would rather be kind than be honest.
The best thing to do is leave the house and give the buyers some space. Buyers want privacy. They don’t want to be cornered into awkward small talk with the homeowner. And they especially don’t want to feel rushed when making the most expensive purchase of their life.
MISTAKE #3: THINKING THEY WILL COME BACK
Imagine you had a long day at work. It’s a hot, muggy day. Your car’s air-conditioning is acting up and making you stick to your seats on your longer-than-usual commute home. Your kids are bickering and everyone is starving. Then your phone rings. It’s your real estate agent calling with a last-minute showing request… in ten minutes. This is NOT what you need right now, but you want to sell your house.
You have two choices:
Option A = Plead for the showing to be rescheduled, because you mistakenly assume the buyers and their agent will gladly rearrange their schedule around yours and come back.
— OR —
Option B = Remind yourself that you want your home sold, and these buyers may only have the next hour or so to see as many homes as possible before making a decision because they’re relocating from out of state (or whatever their unique situation may be).
Never, ever, go with Option A.
No matter how you feel or what kind of day you’re having, you need to be accommodating. Sometimes you just have to bend over backwards. Buyers hold all the power because they’re the ones with the money and ability to make your dream of selling come true.
So as you load up your hungry, fussy kids, you smile and wave as you back out of the driveway and head to the nearest drive-through. You’ve made the right decision! You realize you must suck it up and make your house available… even when you really don’t want to, because buyers will rarely come back at a better time.
MISTAKE #4: NOT BEING WILLING TO NEGOTIATE
So you got an offer on your home, and you accepted it! Congrats! Regardless of how long your home had been on the market or what the final terms are, this is exciting because it means all the showings are over and you’re roughly 30 to 45 days away from closing.
The offer may call for you to assist with closing costs (typically called a closing cost credit). It may call for you to leave your cherished kitchen table or appliances. The buyers may also have conditions on other items being fixed, replaced or removed from the home.
And even if you agree to all of that… after the home inspection (when things that the average person may not notice are uncovered), the buyers may ask for some additional repairs to be made.
This is not uncommon at all and it’s nothing to become adversarial or upset over.
This is where you, the seller, need to be willing to meet in the middle and show the buyer that you’re serious about selling. Otherwise you risk your deal falling apart and being stuck with the house which you’ll eventually shell out more money to fix anyway.
Sure, you can always re-list your home, but it may sit on the market for 30, 60, 90 days or more. Meanwhile you’ll have to deal with more showings, keeping the house spic & span and through all of that… you could very well STILL end up with an identical request list from the next potential buyer.
Please remember that this pending sale on your home has contingencies, and it could fall apart for a number of reasons. The home inspection is the first opportunity to lose your buyer. The mortgage contingency clause is the next. While the burden of navigating the mortgage process – and ultimately SECURING the final loan to make the purchase – is the burden of the buyer, there is one part of it that is not. The appraisal.
Your home needs to appraise for (minimally) the sales price that’s stated in your contract. On top of that… there may be conditions that the the appraiser mandates in accordance with the lenders requirements to finalize the loan. Items like railings, peeling paint or noticeable safety concerns may cause the appraiser to generate a punch-list of items that need to be addressed in order for the appraisal to be submitted.
Both the inspection and appraisal parts of the process may require you to be flexible and willing to negotiate. If you aren’t – and the deal falls apart – then you will have no one to blame but yourself.
Whether the first offer is on the 1st day you’ve listed the property or on the 90th day… once you secure an interested buyer, you need to trust your agent and work with them and your buyers to get the home sold and not waste time on bickering over a $100 light fixture or $400 home warranty.
MISTAKE #5: BEING “NOSE-BLIND” TO PETS & SMOKING
Last but not least, not everyone is a pet lover – or a smoker. Many people are allergic to cats or dogs, or have sensitive noses that can smell urine, stinky litter boxes or even evidence of past smoking – even if all of those odors are emanating from the other side of the house.
If you’re a smoker and you plan to sell. The time is NOW to start practicing your habit outside and away from the door of the home – to minimize the smoke blowing back inside.
If you have pets, then you really need to make the home look and smell as if no pets ever stepped foot in it. Your cat’s favorite spot on the couch that’s coated with 4 inches of matted fur needs to get scraped off (with a lint roller, a few hundred times – if need be). The food bowls, cat trees, pet toys, pet beds, scratching posts, cat condos, etc. need to be out of sight too. So do the fur babies themselves.
Before you leave, make sure your backyard is free of landmines. You may as well put Whiskers’ litter box in a garbage bag and store it in the garage or closet or someplace out of sight and smell.
You may also have to seek out an impartial third party who doesn’t smoke (someone you TRUST to be TRUTHFUL with you, like you’re real estate agent)… to tell you if the house is in need of a cleansing to eliminate the smell of smoke as well.
When a buyer leaves, they’ll remember their first impression, so you want it to be a good one. Odors can be a deal breaker, even if everything else about your home is perfect.
SO… TO SUMMARIZE…
Your home isn’t particularly special to anyone but you, so keep it clean and and as neutral as possible at all times. Don’t try to be the real estate agent (i.e., be sure to leave the house during showings), and take the pets with you! Don’t assume that buyers will bend over backwards to see your house – it’s YOUR job to be flexible on showings… and it would be wise to be flexible with negotiations too.
If you follow this advice, you shouldn’t have a hard time selling quickly and you’ll avoid the unnecessary stress that many sellers endure because they become their own worst enemy by sabotaging their own sale.
Was this advice helpful to you? Or do you think I’ve missed something? Either way… let me know.
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