Avoid These Seller Mistakes

You want to get the best price for your home, plus sell it in the least amount of time. In a buyers’ market such as the one emerging now, homes will take longer to sell. Therefore, it’s important that you make the right moves at the very beginning of your homeselling process to remain competitive. Here are some common traps that many homeowners fall into and how to avoid them.

1. Over-pricing — It’s easy to think your home is worth more than the current market may support, particularly after the long run-up in home prices. Since home prices have cooled in markets around the country, home sellers must be prepared to negotiate on price and terms, and stay flexible to other stipulations benefiting the buyer. Sellers must also keep their emotions in check during the process. After all, your home is special to you and your family, and you’re proud of the improvements you’ve made over the years. But, how does your home really stand up to the others? And are those improvements important to a potential buyer?

To determine a reasonable listing price, get sales statistics on homes in the neighborhood including listing prices and actual sales prices, how long it took for the homes to sell, and government valuation comparisons. You’ll also want a market appraisal on your property. Visit homes for sale in your area and compare what you see in terms of sales appeal.

2. Negligent Housekeeping — Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in the home. Take a good, objective look at the condition of your home. Clean, well-kept homes with an updated appearance always stand out, and a little decorating appeal can go a long way. You don’t have to buy new furniture to create charm, but you can put toys and clutter away, freshen up paint and carpet, make the most of window coverings, and add a few key accessories in order to send out welcoming signals.

3. Failing to Fix-It — Buyers, unless they are looking for a fixer-upper, would prefer to move into a home that is in perfect or near-perfect condition. If they have to fix the roof, a broken tile floor, the garage door, worn carpet or just about anything, this may give them pause about buying. At the very least, it may lower the value of the home in the prospective buyer’s mind.

4. Not Identifying Exclusions — This can be a cause of contention just at a critical point in the sale. Be sure to specify any special sales considerations or exclusions from the fixtures and furnishings list. Generally, anything permanently fixed to the house is an asset that stays with the home after the sale. So if you intend to take your grandmother’s antique chandelier that’s hanging in the dining room, clearly specify that the chandelier is not included in the sale price.

5. Not Understanding the Agent Agreement — Your sales endeavor will go smoothest when all parties have a clear understanding of what is expected. Understand the types of agency agreements when you sign with a real estate professional or company. Be sure to check on fees, commission percentages, marketing plans and timeframes. Most importantly, get everything in writing.

Listing Your Home During the Winter Months

If you are an area homeowner struggling with the decision about whether listing your home for sale during the winter months is good or bad, there are arguments for either choice.
Let’s start with the “pros”:
One of the best things I like about listing your home for sale in the winter months is that the holidays work to your advantage. Nothing says “home” better than a house that is well (and tastefully!) decorated for the holidays. By making sure the decorations accent the house rather than overpower it, you still funnel attention where it belongs: on your house!

Another plus that comes with listing your home in town during the winter months is the logistical reasons that keep the proportion of non-serious “shoppers” from occupying your time. I find that the majority of those who are looking for homes during the winter months are disproportionally intent on actually buying a home.
On the other hand, some of those same logistical forces serve as counterarguments against listing your home during the winter. They are the same reasons many real estate agents tell their clients to wait until the spring to list. It’s true that there are fewer daylight hours for home viewings…not to mention spates of bad weather, and the greater chance that holiday travel will interfere with both buyer and seller schedules.
All in all, I think the arguments cancel each other out: I don’t advise you to allow the time of year to prevent you from listing your home in any season. If you are otherwise ready to sell your home this month or next, I say — make the most of the season! Who knows – it has happened more than once that the right buyer is out there right now. I have marketing plans for area homes that work every month of the year — if you are ready to sell, I’d be delighted to help you launch your sale this holiday season!