For the most part, the majority of home sellers realize they need help, ask good questions and usually follow the advice of the professional Realtor that they have hired to help them with the sale. While this applies to just about all individuals selling a home, I'm directing this advice to the 8% of sellers who have a different idea of what it takes to actually sell a home in today's (2011) real estate market.
Mistake #1. Not Hiring a Realtor
Realtors are held to a higher standard of ethics than non-members and in addition are afforded better resources for helping them with their profession. The most popular reason why real estate agents are not Realtor's is because they don't want to pay the fees and adhere to the standards. This is where you will find that most agents that aren't Realtors could be working only part time and have a full time job doing something else and cousin Louie that has a real estate license for 15 yrs but hasn't sold a home in 8 yrs might not be the best candidate for the job.
Mistake #2. Not Hiring the Right Realtor
Now that you have identified a qualified real estate professional as a Realtor then you should ask the key questions that will actually qualify this person to handle the sale of your home, like "how many transactions have you closed in the past 12 months" and "Show me in writing how you are going to market my home to the public."
Mistake #3. Not preparing the Home For Sale
What this means is simply, organize the home so that is in a presentable condition. Since the competition is tough and you may be competing against homes that are newer, have newer appliances, a more modern look or lower priced homes then the single most important thing you can do is stage the home. Like we discussed in the staging section it doesn't have to be expensive but it is always effective.
Don't confuse staging with spending $1,000 or dollars. New paint, shampoo carpeting, remove clutter inside and out and replacing pictures of the family with generic pictures is very simple to do and it affords large rewards.
Mistake #4. Not Reviewing the Correct Comps When Pricing Your Home.
Try to view your home from the buyer's viewpoint. The important tip here is: Price your home correctly to start with and make price adjustments every 16-24 days or sooner if the market is flat or declining or your the inital price didn't draw the needed interested buyers or reductions have not been effective. Numbers don't lie and while some unique properties are part science and part experience it's important to know all the details about the competition and try to leave the emmotial part of the home out of the equation.
Mistake #5. Limiting the Home's Showing Times.
The two words that come to mind are "BE FLEXIBLE!" Sure it's a hassle but don't drag it out for 10 more weeks than it could have been. You want the house sold and there is a buyer out there. When your home isn't available to show to a buyer on their time schedule then you might just consider that the home wasn't for sale that day or time.
Mistake #6. Taking a Low Offer Personal.
Many a homeowner has been furious over buyers writing offers less than the listing price and in fact we have seen sellers reject full price offers because the buyers made them angry with one or two lower priced offers before agreeing to a reasonable offer. Remember, everyone wants a good deal and the buyers usually don't personally know the seller, therefore it is simply a business deal. Just as a seller might test the selling price when first listing the home, buyers will also test the waters to see if you will accept less. This is a business transaction and try not to take the negotiations personal. The Realtor should be the calming buffer in the transaction.
Mistake #7. Taking the Ceiling Fans, or Stove When Moving Out.
Either remove them and replace with other fixtures before you start showing your home or make sure it is stipulated in the listing agreement that these do not convey with the sale of the home. It's up to your Realtor to ensure that info gets in the MLS and everyone is on the same page. The end of the transaction is supposed to be a positive experience for the buyer and seller.