MISTAKE #1: OVER-PRICING
Everyone wants to get the most money possible when selling their home, however, the best way to do this is NOT to over-price your home. There is always the temptation to think if a potential buyer likes the home but thinks the price is too high they will just make a lower offer. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Some prospective buyers will assume they can’t get the house within their budget and will never even come to view the property. It may give buyers overly high expectations of the property. If your home is actually worth $250,000 and you list for $300,000, it’s quite likely your potential buyers will be comparing your home to other $300,000 homes, and if those are properly priced, the comparison won’t be a favorable one! Over-priced properties usually take longer to sell, and often sell for less in the end than if they had been properly priced at the start. The longer your home is for sale the more potential buyers will wonder if it’s because there is something wrong with it, and the more likely they are to try low-ball offers, since they know no one else has been interested at that price, and hope you may be desperate to sell.
MISTAKE #2: FAILING TO PROPERLY PREPARE
The expression “you only get once chance to make a first impression” describes selling a home perfectly. No matter how much you love your home, and know all the wonderful things that make it a great place to live, it’s irrelevant to the buyer if they can’t see those things when they walk in. If they don’t like it immediately it’s very rare that you will get a second chance, they will just move on to the next property for sale. That’s why it’s critical to properly prepare your home before listing. Do all necessary repairs, cleaning, decluttering, decorating, etc. Whatever is necessary to make your home as inviting and appealing as possible to as many potential buyers as possible. On the same note, you should never bring a listing to the market without high-quality photography of the entire home. Most buyers shop online first, and if you have no photos, or low-quality photos, you may not get a second glance or a second chance!
MISTAKE #3: NOT KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
It’s critical that you understand your rights and responsibilities as a seller. You should ensure you understand clearly what must be disclosed to the buyer, and exactly what you are agreeing to when signing any contracts. Your REALTOR® will be able to explain these rights and obligations to you, however if you still have any doubts you might also want to consider consulting your real estate lawyer. You should also check with your mortgage lender to confirm your “mortgage payout”. That means the amount you will owe the bank if you were to sell the home today, including any applicable penalties or fees. This is very important, because you need to ensure the proceeds of the sale will cover that amount, plus any applicable commissions, legal fees, and closing costs.
MISTAKE #4: SIGNING A LISTING CONTRACT WITH NO CANCELLATION OPTION
Imagine you are a shop owner. Would you consider hiring an employee to work in your shop, with no option to fire them if you are unhappy with their work? Probably not! While your REALTOR® may not technically be an employee, they are still someone you are hiring to do a job for you. Your REALTOR® should clearly explain to you prior to signing the listing contract exactly what services are included, and what your costs will be. Preferably they will offer some sort of service guarantee, and if you are unhappy with the service you should be able to cancel the contract. Be sure to ensure they are willing to grant an “unconditional withdrawal” if you are dissatisfied, as this allows you not just to remove the property from the market, but to re-list with another agent immediately, if you so choose. I offer a Cancel Any Time guarantee on all of my listing contracts.
MISTAKE #5: INADEQUATE MARKETING
Historically, two commonly thought of tools for home sales were open houses, and classified ads. However, most serious buyers will prefer to book a private viewing with their own REALTOR®, and will turn to the internet to start their search, not the newspaper. Ask your REALTOR® how he or she will market your property for sale. There should be a mix of methods, including online advertising, social media, industry exposure, etc. Don’t just assume that your agent is doing these things, ask to see copies of ads, or links to online advertising. While the Multiple Listing Service is an excellent tool, your agent should try to maximize the exposure of your property to attract as many potential buyers as possible.
MISTAKE #6: CHOOSING THE WRONG REALTOR(R)
Selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions of most people’s lives. It’s very important that you select the best REALTOR® for you. Both to protect your investment, and also to make the process as simple as possible for you, and reduce the stress involved. Ask your REALTOR® for a list of services included in their fee. Make sure you understand the total cost, including taxes, and how much of that fee will be used to compensate the buyer’s agent who sells the home vs. how much is retained by the listing agent and their brokerage. You should also discuss what sort of response times you can expect when contacting your agent with questions, how soon after showings you can expect updates, and how often you will be updated on marketing efforts. Search the internet for agent reviews, ask for references from past clients, what recourse you have if you are dissatisfied with the service provided, and anything else you need to know to feel comfortable before signing a listing contract. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you receive, don’t let yourself be pressured into signing a contract.