Jack Hunter

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Eight Common Mistakes Sellers Make

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid if you are thinking of selling...


Basing asking price on needs or emotion rather than market value. Many times sellers base their pricing on how much they paid for or invested in their home. This can be an expensive mistake. If your home is not priced competitively, buyers may reject it in favor of homes similar to yours at a lower price. At the same time, the buyers who should be looking at your house will not see it because it is priced over their budget. The result is increased market time, and even when the price is eventually lowered, the buyers are wary because "nobody wants to buy a house that nobody else wants". You may get lower offers and find the buyers less willing to negotiate. Every seller wants to realize as much money as possible from the sale, but a listing priced too high often eventually sells for less than market value. 


Failing to showcase the home. A property that is not clean or well maintained is a red flag for the buyer. It is an indication that there may be hidden defects that will result in increased cost of ownership. Sellers who fail to make necessary repairs, who don't spruce up the house inside and out, and fail to keep it clean and neat, chase away buyers as fast as Realtors can bring them. Buyers are poor judges of the cost of repairs, and always build in a large margin for error when offering on such a property. Sellers are always better off doing the work themselves ahead of time.

Over-improving the home prior to selling. Sellers often unwittingly spend thousands of dollars doing the wrong upgrades to their home prior to attempting to sell, in the mistaken belief that they will recoup this cost. If you are upgrading your home for your personal enjoyment - fine. But if you are thinking of selling, you should be aware that only certain upgrades are cost effective. Always consult with your Realtor BEFORE committing to upgrading your home. 


Choosing the wrong Realtor or choosing for the wrong reasons. Many homeowners list with the agent who tells them the highest price. This is a poor approach. The best approach is to decide on your agent first, then review the sales data your agent will provide, and finally set your asking price with your agent's help. You need to choose an experienced agent with the best marketing skills to sell your home. In the real estate business, an agent with a good track record and lots of happy clients usually costs the same as someone who is inexperienced. An experienced agent can get you a higher sale price and a quicker sale with minimal disruption.   

Over-selling your home. Sellers sometimes ask their agent to promote certain features of the home. Buying a home is an emotional decision. Buyers like to "try on" a house and see if it is comfortable for them. It is difficult for them to do if the agent is following them around pointing out every improvement that you made. Good Realtors let the buyers discover the home on their own, pointing out only features they are sure are important to the buyer. Many sales are lost by overselling. If buyers think they are paying for features that are not particularly important to them personally, they may reject the home in favour of a less expensive home without those features. It is also important for sellers to be out for all showings so the buyers can be comfortable in the home.

Failing to take the first offer seriously. Often sellers believe that the first offer received will be one of many to come. There is a tendency not to take it seriously, and to hold out for a higher price. This is especially true if the offer comes soon after the home is placed on the market. In a normal market, an offer can come quickly because buyers will be made aware of the home immediately. This is the objective of marketing, after all. That first offer may well be a good offer, so take it seriously and look to your agent for the best advice. Experienced Realtors will prepare their sellers so they are ready and know what to expect in the sale process. 

Not knowing your rights and obligations. The contract you sign to sell your property is a complex and legally binding document. An improperly written contract can allow the purchaser to void the sale, or cost you thousands of dollars. An experienced Realtor who knows the ins and outs can fully explain the contract you are about to sign, as well as the various clauses that are typically used, so you can proceed with confidence.

Failing to effectively market the property. Good marketing opens the door that exposes the property to the marketplace. It means distinguishing your home from hundreds of others on the market. It also means selling the benefits, as well as the features. Proper marketing is critical in order to get top dollar for your home. For maximum impact, your agent should employ a variety of marketing tools and develop a personalized marketing plan for your home that takes into account the nature of the current market.