1. Failure to effectively market the property. Good marketing distinguishes your home from hundreds of others on the market, selling its benefits not just its features. The internet is the #1 tool for selling homes, open houses and print advertising are only moderately effective. Only 1% of homes are sold at open houses, and less than 1% of people purchased their homes after seeing a print ad!
2. Basing your asking price on needs or emotion not market value. Many sellers base their pricing on what is termed as Subjective Value. To an appraiser, subjective value is based on emotions. For example, how much a seller paid for their home, how much they love their home, and overall pride of ownership is considered subjective value. Objective Value, is what ALL appraisers base the true value of a property.
Setting the asking price of a property should always be based on Market Value. Appraisers call this objective value. Objective value looks at the condition of the property; it’s location, what properties with similar features in the same area are selling for, what other properties in the same area are listed for, and the overall condition of the economy and real estate market.
If your home is not priced competitively, homebuyers will prefer larger or better homes in the same price range, increasing your time-to-sell. When your price is later lowered, buyers may be wary because they suspect other reasons the house has remained unsold so long.
3. Failing to "present" the home. A property that is not clean or well maintained often suggests hidden defects that increase the total cost of ownership. Sellers should make necessary repairs, and spruce up the house inside and out, keep it clean and neat, or risk chasing away buyers brought in by realtors. Buyers will leave themselves a large margin for error for the cost of repairs, reducing their offer price.
4. Over-improving your home before you sell it. Most buyers will base their decision on purchasing a home based on how they feel about the kitchen and bathrooms. If these areas of the home meet both their emotional and physical needs it makes it easier to sell a home. It is a good idea to get a real estate professional to do a market assessment of what your home is worth BEFORE improvements. The next step would be to get a written estimate for improvement costs; then have your real estate professional give you an update on the market value to determine how much more money your home will sell for AFTER improvements are made. This will let you know whether it makes sense to upgrade your home first, then put it on the market, or to just put it on the market for sale the way it is.
Sellers may spend thousands of dollars doing the wrong upgrades to their home prior selling, expecting to recoup this cost. If you are thinking of selling, ask your realtor which upgrades are cost effective. Typically the most important and saleable areas of any home are the kitchen and bathrooms.
5. Choosing the wrong Realtor® or choosing for the wrong reasons. Many homeowners list with the agent who tells them the highest price, or a popular Real Estate company in the area. Remember it is NOT the sign that sells a home it is the real estate sales agent. Sellers should always choose the sales agent who provides the most experience and the one the seller thinks has the best negotiating skills. More experience could mean a higher price at the negotiating table, selling in less time, and with less hassles along the way.
6. Failing to take the first offer seriously. Many sellers believe that the first offer received will be one of many to come, hoping to hold out for a higher price, especially if the offer comes in soon after the home is listed. Often the first offer ends up being the best buyer, and many sellers have had to accept far less money than the initial offer much later on in the selling process. The first 2 weeks of the listing term is critical. It is this time that the home will usually get MOST of its action. Do NOT let how quickly the offer came in determine your decision to accept it or not.
7. Using the "Hard Sell" during showings. Buying a home is an emotional decision, and buyers are looking to see if a house is comfortable for them. Good Realtors® let the buyers discover the home's features on their own, pointing out only features they are sure are important to them. Overselling your home during showings make buyers think they are paying for features that are not important to them and can lose the sale.
8. Not knowing your rights and obligations. The contract you sign to sell your property is a complex and a legally binding document. An improperly written contract can allow the purchaser to void the sale, or cost you thousands of unnecessary dollars. Have your Realtor® fully explain the contract or have your lawyer review it before acceptance .
There are many television shows today that focus on home staging. If you have not watched any, do yourself a favor and tune in. They all say the same thing: do not even consider putting your house on the market until you have taken a close look at its condition. Experienced agents know that you only have one shot at impressing potential buyers, so take some time to prepare your home for showings. You will be rewarded with a faster sale and a higher offer.
Start with the Basics
Everything from floors to windows must be spotless. Remember to clean the oven and other major appliances.
Skylights should be crystal-clear, too.
Kill the offensive odors. They're the first thing buyers notice, and often a permanent turnoff.
Put away small kitchen appliances and other items that are sitting on countertops and tables.
Remove photographs from table-tops.
Organize the closets.
Clean the drain gutters. Buyers almost always comment if gutters are full of leaves and it makes them question other maintenance issues.
Store or organize items that make the yard look messy.
Make your front entry inviting. Decorate it, paint the door or buy a new door. It's the first look at your house, so make it a good one.
Tips for Vacant Homes
Vacant homes often greet agents and home buyers with a blast of stale or mildew-laden air. As soon as buyers smell mildew, they are out the door. Deal with the mildew before you list the house.
Have you ever noticed that during colder months the interior of a house without heat always feels colder than it is outside? Leaving the heat or air conditioning running while a home is on the market reduces odors and makes the house more inviting. Keep the lawn and landscaping tidy, even if you have to hire someone to do it.
Don't Take it Personally
The first step is to separate yourself from any personal feelings you may have about your home. It's not your home now; it's a commodity you intend to market. As the seller, you must trust your own instincts. Try to evaluate your house as if you are seeing it for the first time.
If you were a home buyer, what would you think about the house?
What changes would make immediate improvements?
What are the home's best features and how can you show them off?
How about a look that says "comfort" or a popular decorating theme, such as the vintage, casual look of Shabby Chic.
Create a Mood
Is there a mood that you’d like to create? If you're near water, how about breezy fabrics and blue-green colors that remind us of the beach? If you're in the mountains, perhaps you could go rustic. Study the house, brainstorm, and speak to your friends or family members about possible ideas.
Pack It Up
Pack away most of your family photos. Buyers should be able to imagine their own possessions in the home. When home buyers start deciding how their furniture will fit into your rooms, you're on your way to a contract.
Pack up the bulk of large, personal collections, so that buyers don't get so distracted by them that they forget to look at the house.
Make It More Spacious
Remove excess furniture to make rooms appear more spacious.
Clean and organize the closets.
Store boxes in an out of the way location or rent a temporary storage unit so you can de-clutter every part of the house.
Expose Desirable Features
Remove rugs if they’re covering up nice hardwood floors.
Remove heavy drapes that keep out natural light, especially if there's a great view out the windows.
Add Some Life
Living (not artificial) plants go hand-in-hand with nearly any home staging theme.
How about a coat of fresh paint? Are walls in the house dingy? Are the colours dated? Should you clean curtains or other window ornaments?
Create a Mood
Bake bread during showings, or place a fresh loaf in a basket on the counter to create a warm and homey atmosphere.
Classical music playing softly in the background is nice, but choose something that enhances the mood you are trying to create. For example, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, locals and out of town buyers react positively to Appalachian folk music playing softly in the background.
Essential Curb Appeal
In addition to keeping the lawn nicely trimmed, there are other elements you can add to grab a buyer's attention before they walk in the door:
Use outdoor lighting. It does wonders in the evenings when many homebuyers do drive-bys of properties.
Buy an attractive doorknob set.
Sweep the driveway; pressure wash the house or sidewalks if necessary.
A great overall impression is often enough to make a buyer more lenient about minor repairs that may be required. You want them to fall in love with the house as soon as they see it from the street.
Occasionally, one can see "For Sale By Owner" signs, and some owners think that selling their own home will not only save them money, but believe they have an advantage over the sellers that have their home listed by a reputable Real Estate sales professional. Before you decide to take on this very important and legally complicated process…remember not even most Real Estate Lawyer's recommend selling your own home yourself in today's market. Here are a few of the reasons why:
1. You are limiting your exposure to potential buyers (less than 10% of what a good real estate broker will generate) which theoretically means your home will take ten to fifteen times longer to sell on the market.
2. The longer a home is on the market the lower the selling price is. Why? Because most buyers think that if the home has not sold after this long... there must be something wrong with the home.
3. The selling/buying process begins AFTER the buyer leaves your home. Most sellers think that all it takes is for someone to see their home, fall in love with the great decor... and the offer automatically will follow. Remember that the buying process begins after they leave your home. If a real estate sales representative does not represent the buyer, and they are looking on their own…they usually leave the home and start to talk themselves out of the buying process. Real estate professionals are trained on how to overcome buyers remorse--a very common occurrence.
4. Because of the limited exposure you will very likely end up with a lower selling price. Remember, in order to generate the highest price possible for your home… selling means exposure. You need the maximum exposure possible, to generate the highest price possible.
5. Most buyers find it extremely awkward to negotiate or even to talk directly with sellers and therefore avoid FSBO properties.
6. Lack of negotiating experience and lack of pertinent information often will result in a lower selling price, or worse yet, a bungled contract and possible lawsuits.
7. The majority of qualified buyers are working with experienced real estate professionals.
8. Many serious buyers will pass by a FSBO home merely because they recognize that it is not in the real estate mainstream, this can some times make them wary.
9. As most local buyers now retain an experienced real estate sales person to represent them as their buyer-agency, you will probably be negotiating against an experienced professional.
10. Expected savings in broker's fees will also be greatly reduced if you offer a selling commission to entice real estate sales representatives to bring potential buyers.
11. If you are planning to use a Lawyer to help you negotiate the offer, then your lawyer's fees will be considerably higher.
12. Only real estate sales representatives have access to the up-to-date market information. News reports cannot approach the timeliness or specificity available to real estate sales people. Further, real estate sales representatives are involved in home sales much more frequently than the average homeowner is. This familiarity leads to a degree of expertise that provides an edge on negotiating and successful selling.
13. You only pay the commission to the real estate broker, if they successfully sell your home at the price you are happy with.
14. Accepting an offer is one thing, ensuring a safe and successful closing is quite another. Real estate transactions usually always have problems on closing. At times, expecting the Buyers and Sellers Lawyer's to fight it out or resolve the problems, can sometimes mean the deal is lost. This is the time that your experienced real estate professional, can be the most important. Your Real Estate professional can act as a great mediator. Lawyers MUST act only on their client's instructions and are not paid to negotiate.