With the Superbowl behind us, we've said goodbye to football and hello to the spring real estate market! As weary homeowners on the east coast clean up their properties and pray they've seen the last of the nor'easters, eager buyers are patiently waiting for a rise in inventory.
If you have landed here because you are thinking of listing your home, there are a few items worth noting from those that have gone before you. These are the things that don't work and how to correct them.
And the Survey Says...
ActiveRain recently surveyed its members to uncover the Biggest Home Seller Mistakes.
Of 1000 respondents from real estate agents, here are the Top 10 mistakes If you are thinking of listing your home this spring, be sure to read this first and avoid these costly mistakes! They may seem obvious but it still happens.
1. Home is Overpriced - 77%
"I'd Like to Start at My Price-We can Reduce it Later."
My listing presentation has 5 pages devoted to pricing alone. Why? You can have a great home, beautiful pictures and great marketing, but if the home is overpriced, it won't be shown. Plain and simple. The price of your home should be reflective of similar homes that have sold while ackonwledging the competition. I've recently had a seller say to me, "the house down the street is at xx dollars," to which I've replied "and that house has been on the market for 6 months." Just because your neighbor's house is overpriced doesn't mean yours needs to be. Overpricing often leads to appraisal issues down the road.
Overpriced homes stay on the market longer, help sell other homes and often sell for below market when they finally do sell. By the time the seller reduces the price, buyers have moved on to newer, better priced listings. Pricing is important in a slow market, but it may be even more important in a brisk market. In my service area, well priced homes in good condition are moving quickly. If a home hasn't sold in several weeks a buyer may suspect that it is overpriced or there is a major defect to the property.
When I work with buyers, I typically search for homes $25K higher than their price range to account for overpricing. When I find an overpriced property, it's hard to convince a buyer to see it "until they reduce their price." People are short on time and don't want to waste it.
2. Limited Showing Availability - 34%
To Sell Your Home it Needs to be Seen!
When you make the decision to sell your home, that is the time you need to detach and pretend as if it is no longer yours. If your agent has done a good job with marketing the property, people will want to see it as soon as it hits the market.
There is nothing more frustrating to buyers and their agents than to encounter restrictive showing terms such as "the house can only be seen from 1pm-3pm weekdays or 9am-10am on Sundays." These kind of restrictions can limit your buyer audience and reduce any chance of competition no matter how great your house is.
3. Clutter - 32%
Buyers typically consider three things when evaluating homes: location, condition and price. You only have control over the condition and the price, so this is your chance to shine.
Some buyers have imagingations and some don't. What I mean is that if the house is cluttered and unwelcoming, certain buyers may just think it's too much work and move on. The buyers that can see past the clutter may notice the nice features of your home, but you won't have people fighting over it--unless of course the price is so competitive or they really want the neighborhood.
Clutter may be a signal to the buyer that 1) you don't take care of your home, 2) you aren't serious about selling your home, 3) you may not be able to move out of the home in time for settlement or 4) there may be bigger problems that could hinder a sale.
If you want to take it up a notch, clean your home and stage it. Staging is to real estate what merchandising is to retail. Buyers buy on emotion--if they can visualize themselves living in your home, the sale is half-made.
4. Unpleasant Odors - 28%
We want to see the house, not smell it!
Excepting the seller's discosure, buyers should not be able to tell that there are pets in the home. I have had buyers approach a home and turn around at the first whiff of pet urine or cigarette smoke. Both of these odors can be difficult and costly to remove and are a big concern for buyers. Cooking fish or using pungent herbs and spices should be avoided during the marketing period as well. And lastly, scented candles. While they may smell nice to you, they can be overpowering to buyers. If you are going to infuse your home with a pleasant scent, please do it subltly.
You may be immune to the smells of your own home. If you smoke or have pets, ask a trusted friend or Realtor how your house smells. A good friend wouldn't let you go on a date with bad breath. Think of showing your home as a date with it's future owner and do yourself a favor and remove that objection before you get it.
Get your home smelling clean--without air fresheners or sprays. Coverups are a red light that something more serious is being, well, covered-up!
5. Unwilling to Negotiate - 21%
6. Unwilling to Make Repairs - 20%
"So what I hear you saying Mr. Seller is that we can take it or leave it, right?"
There is no rule that says a seller is required to fix anything, but once it is discovered there is a duty to disclose. Refusing to do repairs limits the buyer audience to investors or buyers with deep pockets. In my experience, the people with deep pockets have them for a reason--they spend their money wisely and are educated on repair costs. These types of buyers have not gotten emotionally attached to the property, meaning that if the price minus repairs doesn't equate to a fair market value in their mind, they have no problem walking away.
An emotional buyer that loves the house might be willing to accept your answer but their lender may not. Consider whether the repair affects a buyer's ability to obtain a mortgage (roof, termite, peeling paint or major defects). If these items are not addressed, the seller will need to start over with a new buyer that won't require these repairs. Seller is back to square one and the sale could be delayed another 45-60 days or more.
If a seller is unwilling or unable to make repairs or negotiate, I suggest getting a thorough home inspection and pricing and marketing the property in such a way that the price could not be argued with and that you are attracting the right buyers from the start.
7. Bad Photos. 8. The home is messy. 9. Sellers Who Play Tour Guide, and 10. Picking the Wrong Agent.
I am grouping the last four, as they are lead back to #10, hiring the right agent.
(7) You, the seller, are not in directly in control of the photos unless you take them yourself. You should definitely ask to see the portfolio of your prospective agent or ask how they will market the property. Number (8) is the similar to number 3 and the answer is the same. (9) If you would like someone to be present for showings, that can be arranged, but it should not be you. Buyers like to look at homes by themselves and be free to discuss likes and dislikes with their agent. Having you there inhibits the process. If you are concerned about theft or damage, you may ask that your agent be present for showings.
And number 10. The right agent will guide and counsel you. The wrong agent will agree with what you think and ultimately waste your time. Take the time to interview agents so you can make an intelligent decision. The risk is just too great.
Whether it’s your closets, your paperwork or finding the right agent – listing your home right the first time is your key to success.
Take the advice of an experienced agent serioulsy. They have been through it before and will likely be honest with you about these items. An inexperienced agent or an agent who just wants the listing may just agree with you so as not to hurt your feelings.
You will eventually get the feedback anyway, so you are only delaying the inevitable. A great coach I know says " if what I'm saying makes your uncomfortable, it's because I'm telling you the truth."
Please don't be offended when people give you honest feedback because not having it could cost you a sale.
If you or someone you know is considering listing your home, contact me for a no obligation consultation.