The 10 Deadly Sins of Selling Your House

Partially reprinted from the San Francisco Examiner – Sunday, March 3, 1996 It’s wise to follow others’ good examples and to learn by others’ mistakes. So that your move will be a sane and sound one, here’s a list of 10 mistakes to avoid.
  1. Buying a replacement home before selling the old one.
    The temptation may be great to buy a replacement home first. That way you’ll know where you are going and how much you’ll be paying. And you won’t have to worry about being left out in the cold with nowhere to go if your home sells quickly. However, the financial risks of buying first are great. It’s far better to sell your current home first and endure the inconvenience of moving to an interim rental – which rarely happens – than it is to end up owning and paying for two homes when you only want one.
  2. Basing the list price of your home on the price you would like to get rather than on market value.
    Market value determines the price of your home – not wishful thinking. A buyer won’t pay more for your home just because you think you need more money in order to purchase your next home. Find out the market value of your current home by having your real estate agent prepare a comparative market analysis or by getting an appraisal from a local appraisal firm. This will tell you the value of your home based on comparable sales information. With this information, you can determine an accurate list price for the current market.After you know what your home is likely to sell for, ask your agent to prepare a seller’s net sheet. It will tell you approximately how much cash you will receive from the sale. Then, visit a mortgage broker or loan agent to get prequalified for a mortgage. They will let you know what price range you can afford to buy a home at.
  3. Failing to get a “termite” report (or other indicated reports) before listing a home for sale.
    Sellers are often required to pay for eliminating wood pest (also known as “termite”) infestation when they sell their home. They may also be asked to correct other defects. Sellers who know the condition of their home before they sell are in a better position to negotiate a firm sale because they can disclose existing reports on the properly to buyers before they make an offer.
  4. Putting a home on the market before it is spruced up.
    Buyers and real estate agents remember what they see. Their first impressions are lasting ones. If a prop­erty looks a mess when it hits the market, that is how agents will remember it.Most people lack the vision to imagine what the home will look like when it’s fixed up. It’s usually better to delay marketing a home until it’s spruced up for sale. Most buyers utilize realtors’ services to purchase homes so, realtors are more excited about showing and selling homes when they are in mint condition.
  5. Refusing to reduce a listing price that is too high for the market.
    It’s hard to be objective about the value of your home. This is why it’s important to get a professional opinion before setting a list price. Over-priced listings often take a long time to sell. Thus they can sell for less than they would have if they were priced right to begin with.It’s natural to want to get the most money possible when you sell. Competitive pricing is the way to achieve that result. If you find that your list price is too high for the market, reduce your price sooner rather than later. The longer it sits on the market unsold, the lower the ultimate selling price is likely to be.
  6. Refusing to counter a low offer.
    Sellers want to sell high; buyers like to buy low. A low offer from well-qualified buyers is better than no offer at all. A high offer from unqualified buyers only leads to disappointment. The price, buyers offer is not the most important part of their offer – if they are willing to negotiate.
  7. Insisting on being present when the home is shown to prospective buyers.
    One way to discourage buyers from buying your home is to be home during showings. For buyers to decide to buy a home, they first must discover, and discuss, all of its flaws. Buyers are reluctant to say anything negative about a home in the sellers’ presence. It’s best to leave your home when it’s being shown to pro­spective buyers.
  8. Listing with a contingency to find a replacement home.
    This is like saying that your home might be for sale. Serious buyers make offers on homes that are definitely for sale. Otherwise, buyers could wait in vain for unrealistic sellers to find an acceptable replacement home.Sellers often want a contingency to find a replacement home so that they don’t have to move twice. To avoid having to move to an interim rental, list your home with a provision that you may need to remain in possession and rent back the property for a period of time after closing. At least, the buyers know they have bought a home, even if they can’t move in right away.
  9. Setting up a complicated showing procedure that discourages showings.
    A home that can’t be shown, can’t be sold. The easier it is to show a home, the more often it will be shown, and the quicker it will be sold. There is usually a direct correlation: the more showings a home receives, the less time it takes to sell.
  10. Refusing to do anything to get your house ready to sell.
    The way most people live in their homes is usually very different from the way a home should look when it goes on the market. In order for someone to want to buy a home, they must be able to envision themselves living there. Most sellers have to de-clutter and clean their homes – at the very least.Often there’s quite a bit more work that needs to be done before a home is ready to sell. For example, in order to get the highest price possible when you sell a car, it’s wise to have it detailed to look its shiny best. The same concept applies to selling houses. Buyers pay a premium for homes that are in move-in condition.