After years of less than good and often time’s bad housing news, most of the US’s markets have begun to turn around.
In fact, the latest housing statistics show that year-over-year, asking prices are up as much as 10% nationally and are rising in 97 of the 100 largest metros. With the trifecta of increasing prices, historically low interest rates for buyers and the beginning of the spring sales season, you might be thinking of selling. But even with the latest jump in sale prices, you still need to maximize equity when your home hits the market.
To get the most money out of your home, it pays to do everything right. Shockingly, sellers continue to make several costly mistakes each sale. What follows is a list of ten of the most common (and most avoidable) mistakes sellers make.
Identifying and eliminating all of these will save you thousands –even tens of thousands – of dollars.
Here are the top 10 mistakes to avoid:
1. Not Hiring A Professional To Sell Your Home – Trying to sell your home by yourself is sheer madness. You need the expertise of a professional. And, the numbers don’t lie – home sellers who try to do it themselves often end up taking longer to sell and sell for far less than homeowners who work with an agent.
2. Mispricing Your Home – Overpricing or under pricing is a huge money-losing mistake. It’s so critical to know your market and know the sales of similar homes currently for sale (and those that have recently sold) to understand exactly where to price your home.
3. Neglecting Necessary Repairs Prior To Sale – You will lose money if you don’t take care of repairs before the house goes on the market. It’s always going to cost you less out of pocket to fix things ahead of time, rather than have buyers see your house in disrepair. It’s a guarantee that they will offer less or ask for a credit back for the work that needs to be done before the deal closes. And, not getting necessary repairs done prior to selling sends the wrong message – if you have neglected repairs that a potential buyer can see, what have you neglected that they cannot see? Some will not even bother to write an offer fearing other more costly hidden repairs.
4. Refusing To Declutter Your Home Prior To Listing – Clutter eats equity and kills deals. One of the least expensive improvements you can make to your home is to declutter and create a sense of spaciousness throughout, from the kitchen countertops to the overstuffed closets to the trophy-lined shelves in the den. It costs you nothing to get rid of all that ‘stuff,’ yet it reaps big rewards.
5. Selling Your House Empty – Selling an empty house makes buyers feel the same way: empty. Homes need to be dressed or ‘staged.’ Don’t worry, you won’t need to go out and buy new furniture and accessories. Chances are, you have plenty to choose from already; in fact, that’s usually the problem (see tip four, above). Editing out items – lots of them – may just leave you with the perfect amount of furnishings for a simply staged home (space is your friend, after all). If your furniture is already in another house or taking a cross-country trek, I highly recommend making the small (but critical) investment in a local stager to give the for-sale home a new look that will charm potential buyers.
6. Letting Your Ego Get In The Way When Negotiating – Too many sellers take negotiating personally and lose out on creating a win-win deal. Remember, this is a business transaction – perhaps the biggest one of your life. Take your ego out of the equation and put your head back into it.
7. Failing To Complete A Full Set Of Disclosures Prior To Closing – Regrettably, too many sellers can be held accountable because they didn’t reveal it all. Being upfront and forthcoming about any of your home’s issues will save you lots of money and time, especially if the buyers end up uncovering problems themselves – and they always do.
8. Mistiming the Sale For Maximum Tax Benefits – Even a sale mis-scheduled by one day can cost you tens of thousands in extra taxes. Don’t be left a day late and many dollars short. Make sure you talk to your accountant to find out if any long term capital gains tax breaks apply to you, and check your calendar to determine when they come into play.
9. Overlooking Junk Fees and Extra Expenses At Closing – Home sellers throw thousands away by not requesting and confirming a list of fees and expenses long before closing day. Make sure you and your real estate agent review estimated closing cost statements long before it’s time to hand over the keys. Learning of these fees on closing day is way far too late to be try to rectify costly mistakes or discounts and credits.
10. Poor Photography – Too many great homes have horrible camera phone photos in their sale listings. With more than 90% of all buyers start their home search online why would you leave the presentation to that? I guarantee that you won’t ever get a second chance to make the perfect first impression.