Home Selling Sabatoge 101!

Real Estate Agents Rank Biggest Home Seller Mistakes

A recent survey of real estate agents by Active Rain has confirmed that there are certain things a seller should avoid if they are trying to get their home sold  for the best price in the least amount of time.

The results of this survey are no surprise to real estate agents, but sellers need to understand that eliminating as many hurdles as possible to the sale of your home will help you achieve your desired outcome.

Biggest home seller mistakes

Data provided by ActiveRain.com.

Active Rain is an online community of real estate professionals who exchange best practices, write real estate blogs, and get free education from the industry and their peers.  I am an active “rainmaker” in active rain and love some of the information that they help make available to all of us real estate agents.  A great spot to share ideas, referrals, best practices and brain storm with other serious like-minded agents across the country.

Of the top mistakes, most are ultimately in the hands of the seller. But with some help from me as your home selling team member we can minimize the effect of some of these.

Here are the top mistakes real estate agents commonly see made by homeowners looking to sell their houses from across the country.

1. Overpriced Home

Nothing shocking here. This was far and away the most common mistake sellers make that prevent them from selling their home.

If you overpriced your home there is a pretty good chance no one is going to want to buy it. Real estate agents do not set the real estate market. A great real estate agent will suggest a price at which to list your home based on comparable homes that have already sold in the market. Overpricing a home to ‘see if you can get someone to bite’ is not a strategy employed by someone really serious about selling. Overpricing a home will lead to missed opportunities with buyers that are serious about buying in the range at which your home should be listed.

The first week during which a home is listed will generally be the time that the most eyeballs are on the home and the largest potential pool of buyers will be exposed to the listing. Setting a price that reflects the market is essential to selling! This is exacerbated in a downward trending market. Many a seller has lost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars chasing a market down after setting a listing price that was outside what the market was willing to bear.

There are some agents that will take your home  overpriced  just to say they have inventory.  But an agent that is really in the business to sell knows that an overpriced listing is nothing but an albatross around their neck.  It’s a set up for an unhappy client (you) and it does nothing for them in the big scheme.  They either waste time and money on it marketing it or worse for you the just let it sit as they know that 6 months from now you will have to lower your price.

2. Showing Availability – It’s Difficult to Set a Showing

The chances your home will sell when buyers can’t get in to physically inspect the property are minuscule. Sellers need to understand that listing a home for sale is going to lead to some inconveniences in your normal routine. Many serious buyers may want to physically inspect a property during times which may not be convenient for the seller. Knowing this, motivated sellers need to understand that flexibility in when you allow the home to be sold could have a direct impact on the sale of your home.

It’s not -uncommon  for sellers to see 8, 10, even 20 homes during a showing tour with their agent. If your house isn’t on that list because you only do showings on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, you will miss out on ready, willing and able buyers.

I have seen that one so many times.  When you have a schedule of homes and scattered locations many times as an agent you just don’t have the time to drive back and forth across town.  You really do need to show one area at a time.  Making it inconvenient for an agent to get into quite often just gets your house missed.

3. Cluttered Space – Unwilling to Depersonalize or Remove Clutter

Sellers are sometimes unwilling to either make the effort, or unwilling to compromise how they live in their home during the time the home is on the market for showings. Serious sellers realize that by depersonalizing the home and removing unwarranted clutter, it allows potential buyers to more easily visualize their own things in the house.

When you live in your home day in and day out, you become comfortable with your own ‘things’. In many cases, however, your ‘stuff’ can make a room feel smaller than it actually is and in some more extreme cases, your ‘stuff’ can completely distract someone from visualizing the potential of a room. We know you are proud of your kids as the shrine in the living room displays all of their ribbons, trophies and diplomas from the last 20 years. But for a buyer, this is only a distraction.

Many agents will make recommendations about ways to remove clutter or depersonalize your home. Some will even suggest that a professional home stager be brought it to completely maximize the space and create a setting maximizes the buyers ability to visualize their own things. The key thing to remember here is these suggestions are not personal and you may have to be a little uncomfortable so that your house puts it’s best foot forward.

4. Unpleasant Odors in the House

“Mr and Mrs. Seller, your house stinks!”

Most agents aren’t going to be this blunt. But in some cases they wish they could be. They’ll take a more tactical approach and say something like…..’during the time your house is on the market, it might be a good idea to smoke outside’.

But what they know is that nothing will stop a potential buyer in their tracks faster than a strong odor of any sort. In some cases this could just be the left over smell from last nights dinner. In more extreme cases, agents tell horror stories of entering homes that have a bad smell of pet urine or smoking.

The main concern for the buyer is, of course, “is the house going to smell like this once we move in?” Real Estate agents confirm that many a buyer has passed on a home after coming to their own conclusion on that answer.

Your agent isn’t suggesting a fresh coat of paint and new carpet because they don’t like how things look. They are making this suggestion because they realize that the smoke odor in your home is going to be a major turn off for anyone thinking about buying your home.

This probably should be higher up on the list if you ask me.  I have many a time had people walk out of a house and totally take it off the consider list if it has an odor.  Smoke smell is a total turnoff to a non smoker and pet odors are out of this world.

I would also add here a little tidbit about pets.  Unless you have a “must have” pet in the house it is always best for them to be out of the house during a showing.  I will never forget the house that had a “little bit of a pet odor” my buyers were pet people so they weren’t totally turned off they were willing to “work” with it.  Until the little dog that lived there took a  big pee on the carpet right in front of them.  They hadn’t put the pee odor together with the dog was doing it on the carpet.  They ran out of that house!

5. Seller Unwilling to Make Repairs Prior to Listing

No seller wants to spend a few thousand dollars making repairs to a house you are about to sell. Agents understand that. But they also understand that few buyers want to move in to a house that needs a bunch of work done immediately upon moving in.

One of your objectives to selling your home is to make it as appealing as possible to as wide of an audience as possible. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs, and a buyer doesn’t want a bunch of work upon moving in, you’ve shrunk the pool of potential buyers for your property.

Some sellers may want to offer the buyer a credit at closing for certain repairs. That doesn’t work very well as most buyers can’t see past the torn rug or the peeling roof.  And the other big drawback to that is in todays lending world those repairs negate a lot of different loans that are available to your buyer.  They may get knocked out of your house even if they were willing to take it on due to what they can get for a home loan.  If a real want to live in it buyer can’t get a loan that is going to leave you to the mercy of the investor buyers.  And yes they want to make a profit on their investment so don’t expect top dollar from them.

6. Sellers Unwilling to Negotiate with Buyers

Setting a market price on a home is not an exact science. Many real estate agents will give the seller a range in which they predict the home will sell. As a seller, you should always want the most money the market will bear. That being said, the unwillingness to negotiate with buyers can turn away even the most serious buyers.

Price is not the only condition which is open to negotiation. Buyers and sellers can negotiate on dates, fixtures that might stay with the home, repairs and a host of other sticking points. Sellers that refuse to negotiate and are set on digging in their heels are much less likely to find a willing and able buyer.

Don’t be insulted by low offers. This is so important.  And I always try to prep my sellers to expect it.  A low offer is nothing more than a starting point from where wants someone who actually your house enough to put it in writing is willing to start.   Buyers want to get the home for the best price and on the best terms they can. Just like a sellers wants to sell for the best price on the best terms. It’s rare that either party walks away from a negotiation with everything they want. Motivated sellers understand this and are willing to negotiate.

7. Bad Photos in the MLS

This one will most likely fall on your real estate agent. But knowing that bad photos in the MLS can be an impediment to the sale of your home, as a seller it’s imperative that you demand great photography from your agent.

Studies show that greater than 85% of people are going online as a part of their research for buying a home. Most buyers will probably first be introduced to your home online. Poor photos could be cause for them to disregard your home before they ever set foot in it.

The photos used to market your home are generally the first impression any buyer will have of your home.  So make sure your agent has a good photo plan for your home.

Never let your home go on the market without photos! If it means waiting a day or two before listing, wait. A large number of potential buyers in your market will be exposed to your home the first day it goes on the market. Having great photos the first day the home hits the market is a must.  That is actually something as your Real Estate agent I insist on.

8. The Home is Just Plain Messy

You were late for work this morning so you ran out of the house without picking up from last night’s dinner. Not a big deal…..unless you have potential buyers that will be stopping by.

Some people may be able to look past the dishes stacked up in the sink, but enough buyers won’t be able to look past the mess. Remember, buyers want to envision their things in your house. The more obstacles you put in the way, the harder time they have connecting with the home emotionally.

Take the time every day to make sure everything is cleaned up and the home is in showing condition.

9. Sellers Who Like to Play Tour Guide During Showings

Almost every real estate agent who participated agreed that sellers should leave the house during showings. Some sellers want to stick around and make sure buyers see all the important features of a home. The problem with that………as a seller you don’t know what’s important to a buyer.

Sellers that hover around during a showing will make the buyer nervous. They won’t feel comfortable discussing things they like or dislike about the house with their agent. In addition, most buyers like to explore a little bit. Interested buyers tend to do things like open cabinets and check in closets to get a better sense for the entire home. A hovering seller can make this very uncomfortable for some buyers.

Bottom line……leave the house when it’s being shown. Your presence there will only make things worse.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had sellers mess up a sale for their home when I have brought buyers through.  It is so true You don’t know what is important to these buyers.  I’ve watched sellers try to show closet features when only the kitchen matters.  Or only the size of the living room matters.  It is so in your interest to just leave the house.  I have shown a few homes when there is a special feature “behind this door” the sellers have left a note taped up and the buyers have found it.  That has worked nicely.

10. Picking the Wrong Home Selling Agent

You decided to list with your aunt or with your friend that just got in the business. You paid no attention to their experience or what they do to market a home. Maybe not the best idea.

It is always a good idea to explore your options.  And frankly home selling and buying can be a little stressful so be careful with your personal relationships and make sure that its something that the relationship can handle.

Don’t be scared to ask a real estate agent questions about why they are a better choice than anyone else you may be considering. Just like with any profession, there are good real estate agents and there are bad real estate agents.  Make sure there someone you are comfortable with and can have a good dialog with.  This needs to be someone who can tell you good news and bad news.  If you’re not going to be able to ever get hold of this person after the listing is signed probably not a good match.

They should have a good marketing program and I know with my clients I prep them to when they will be hearing from me.  I check up on every showing and get you feed back on how it went.  And your going to hear the good and the bad from me.  Probably another time to not take things personal.  People are going to walk through your home and maybe not like that kitchen that fit you like a glove and you love. They may hate it.

I think as a seller that the negative comments people give on your home are a ton more important then the positive.  Yes its great to hear good things.  But if your home is getting showings and no sale then it is imperative to know what they are not liking about it.  Maybe we can fix it maybe we can’t but without the comment you never know.

Hope this gives you some really good ideas to have your home more prepared for a sale when the time comes for you to put it on the market.  If you plan on selling this year the time is now to start preparing.  Contact me to get your Current Market Analysis so you can start deciding on your price point and taking care of any of the issues that may affect your home sale.

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