Published August 16, 2013
Selling a home in a bad housing market is tough enough, but many homeowners make it even harder on themselves by falling for some common real estate mistakes. Easily avoided pitfalls can keep your home on the market for longer than it needs to be, cost you money in the final sale price, or prevent it from being sold altogether. So before you put your house up for sale, here are some things to avoid.
The Price Isn’t Right
One of the most frequent mistakes: many sellers set the price far too high, forgetting that the sentimental value they’ve invested in the home doesn’t translate for buyers. Even those that have done their homework, looking at home prices in the neighborhood to figure out a sum, often fail to get the price right. Pegging your price to recent neighborhood sales won’t work if those homes have big-ticket features that your home doesn’t, such as a recently remodeled kitchen, a backyard porch or a two-car garage. So when you are figuring out a price, make sure to look at homes with very similar features, or pay a professional to appraise it.
The Ghosts of Past DIY Jobs
Yeah, you saved a little money by redoing the wiring yourself a few years ago, rather than hiring an electrician or contractor to do the job. But guess what, that DIY job is going to cost you when it comes time to sell. Failing a home inspection because work isn’t up to code is a great way to drive away a potential buyer or, at the very least, force you to pay to bring it up to code before the sale goes through. To avoid delays and last-minute renovation projects, get your home inspected beforehand so you know what you’re dealing with.
Sticking Around for a Showing
When it comes time for an open house or showing, the worst thing you can do is be there. Selling a home is an emotional process, and many sellers have a tendency to get defensive in the face of criticism. If a potential buyer complains about the color scheme, or notes that the carpet is looking a little dated, it’s not meant as a personal attack. But if you’re around, you risk escalating a little criticism into a full-fledged argument, driving away a potential buyer. So do yourself a favor: get out of the house when buyers come by.
Picking the Wrong Agent
A good real estate agent is crucial when it comes to getting the best possible price for your home. But many are too hasty in their search for an agent, forgetting to ask key questions. Have they worked in the community a long time? Can they provide recent references? Do they focus more on helping clients buy or sell homes? Before you pick up the phone to start dialing agents, write out a list of questions you’d like to ask and take notes while you talk to them so that you can compare their answers before you choose one.
The truth about home improvements is that you will almost never recoup the full cost when you sell. Even the most desirable upgrades, like a newly remodeled kitchen or bathroom, will allow you to break even at best. So rather than undertaking a major renovation project in the hopes of boosting the sale value, spend your energy fixing basic maintenance problems instead. Things like touching up chipped paint or steam cleaning carpets are low-cost ways to improve the look of your home.
Putting on the Finishing Touches
Curb appeal, that all-important first impression your home makes on a potential buyer, is essential in a competitive housing market, and often costs little to improve. Trimming back overgrown shrubbery, making sure the lawn is looking green and lush, pressure washing windows and siding, and putting on a new coat of paint are all great ways to make your home a welcoming place before the potential buyer even gets to the front door.