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Version: 2.1

Seller Mistakes

  • Basing asking price on needs or emotion rather than market value. Many times sellers base their pricing on how much they paid for or invested in their home.  This can be an expensive mistake. If your home is not priced competitively, buyers will reject it in favour of homes for the same price. Similarly, buyers who would be seeing your house will not see it because it is overpriced. The result is increased market time, and even if the price is eventually adjusted, buyers are wary because "nobody wants to buy a house that nobody else wants", resulting in low offers and an unwillingness to negotiate.  Every seller wants to realize as much money as possible from the sale, but a listing priced too high often eventually sells for less than market value.
  • Failing to "Showcase" the home. A property that is not clean or well maintained is a waving red flag for a buyer.  It is an indication that there may be hidden defects that will result in increased cost of ownership. Sellers who fail to perform necessary repairs, who don't decorate the house, and fail to keep it clean and neat, chase away buyers. Buyers are poor judges of the cost of repairs, and always incorporate a large margin for error when making an offer on such a property.  Sellers are always better off doing the work themselves ahead of time.
  • Over-improving the home prior to selling. Sellers often unwittingly spend thousands of dollars performing poor upgrades to their home prior to attempting to sell in the mistaken belief that they will recoup this cost. If you are upgrading your home for your personal enjoyment - great. However, if you are thinking of selling, you should be aware that only certain upgrades are cost-effective.  Always consult with your Realtor before committing to upgrading your home.
  • Choosing the wrong Realtor or choosing for the wrong reasons. Many homeowners list with the agent who tells them the highest price. Choose an experienced agent with the best marketing plan to sell your home.  In the real estate business, an agent with many successfully closed transactions costs the same as someone who is inexperienced.  That experience could mean a higher price at the negotiating table, selling in less time, and with a minimum amount of hassles.
  • "Hard Sell" during showings. Buying a home is an emotional decision. Buyers like to "try on" a house and see if it is comfortable for them. That is difficult to do if you follow them around pointing out every improvement that you made. Good Realtors let the buyers “discover the home” on their own, pointing out only features they are sure are important to them.  Many sales are lost by overselling. If buyers think they are paying for features that are not particularly important to them personally, they will reject the home in favour of less expensive homes without the features.
  • Failing to take the first offer seriously. Often sellers believe that the first offer received will be one of many to come.  There is a tendency to not take it seriously, and to hold out for a higher price.  This is especially true if the offer comes in soon after the home is placed on the market. Experienced Realtors know that more often than not the first buyer ends up being the best buyer, and many sellers have had to accept far less money than the initial offer later in the selling process. The home is most saleable early in the marketing period, and the amount buyers are willing to pay diminishes with the length of time a property has been on the market.  Sellers would give anything to find that prospective buyer who made the first, and ONLY, offer.
  • Not knowing your rights and obligations. The contract you sign to sell your property is a complex and legally binding document.  An improperly written contract can allow the purchaser to void the sale, or cost you thousands of unnecessary dollars. Have an experienced Realtor who knows the "ins and outs" fully explain the contract you are about to sign, or have your attorney review it before acceptance.
  • Failure to effectively market the property. Good marketing opens the door that exposes the property to the marketplace, distinguishing your home from hundreds of others on the market.  It also means selling the benefits and features.  The two most obvious marketing tools (open houses and print advertising) are only moderately effective.  Just 1% of homes are sold at open houses, and advertising studies show that only 3% of people purchased their home because they called on a print. Agents use these tools to attract future prospects, not to sell the house. The right Realtor will employ a wide variety of marketing activities, emphasizing the ones believed to work best for your home.
  • Buying a replacement home before selling the old one. The temptation may be great to buy a replacement home first.  That way you'll know where you are going and how much you'll be paying. And you won't have to worry about being left out in the cold with nowhere to go if your home sells quickly.  However, the financial risks of buying first are great. It's far better to sell your current home first and endure the inconvenience of moving to an interim rental - which rarely happens, than it is to owning and paying for two homes when you only want one.
  • Basing the list price of your home on the price you would like to get rather than on market value. Market value determines the price of your home - not wishful thinking.  A buyer won't pay more for your home just because you think you need more money in order to purchase your next home.
  • Find out the market value of your current home.  Have your real estate agent prepare a Competitive market analysis or by getting an appraisal from a local appraisal firm.  This will tell you the value of your home based on comparable sales information. With this information, you can determine an accurate list price for the current market.
  • After you know what your home is likely to sell for, ask your agent to prepare a seller's net sheet. It will tell you approximately how much cash you will receive from the sale.  Then, visit a mortgage broker or loan agent to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. They will let you know what price range you can afford to buy a home at.
  • Failing to get a "termite" report before listing a home for sale. Sellers are often required to pay for eliminating wood pest (also known as "termite") infestation when they sell their home. They may also be asked to correct other defects. Sellers who know the condition of their home before they sell are in a better position to negotiate a firm sale because they can disclose existing reports on the property to buyers before they make an offer.
  • Putting a home on the market before it is spruced up. Buyers and real estate agents remember what they see. Their first impressions are lasting ones.  If a property looks a mess when it hits the market, that is how agents will remember it.
  • Most people lack the vision to imagine what the home will look like when it's fixed up.  It's usually better to delay marketing a home until it's spruced up for sale. Most buyers utilize realtors' services to purchase homes so, realtors are more excited about showing and selling homes when they are in mint condition.
  • Refusing to reduce a listing price that is too high for the market.  It's hard to be objective about the value of your home. This is why it's important to get a professional opinion before setting a list price. Overpriced listings often take a long time to sell. Thus they can sell for less than they would have if they were priced right to begin with.
  • It's natural to want to get the most money possible when you sell. Competitive pricing is the way to achieve that result. If you find that your list price is too high for the market, reduce your price sooner rather than later. The longer it sits on the market unsold, the lower the ultimate selling price is likely to be.
  • Refusing to counter a low offer. Sellers want to sell high; buyers like to buy low. A low offer from well-qualified buyers is better than no offer at all. A high offer from unqualified buyers only leads to disappointment.  The price, buyers offer is not the most important part of their offer - if they are willing to negotiate.
  • Insisting on being present when the home is shown to prospective buyers. One way to discourage buyers from buying your home is to be home during showings.  For buyers to decide to buy a home, they first must discover, and discuss all of its flaws.  Buyers are reluctant to say anything negative about a home in the sellers' presence. It's best to leave your home when it's being shown to prospective buyers.
  • Listing with a contingency to find a replacement home. This is like saying that your home might be for sale.  Serious buyers make offers on homes that are definitely for sale. Otherwise, buyers could wait in vain for unrealistic sellers to find an acceptable replacement home.
  • Sellers often want a contingency to find a replacement home so that they don't have to move twice. To avoid having to move to an interim rental, list your home with a provision that you may need to remain in possession and rent back the property for a period of time after closing.  At least, the buyers know they have bought a home, even if they can't move in right away.
  • Setting up a complicated showing procedure that discourages showings. A home that can't be shown, can't be sold. The easier it is to show a home, the more often it will be shown, and the quicker it will sell. There is usually a direct correlation: the more showings a home receives, the less time it takes to sell.
  • Refusing to do anything to get your house ready to sell. The way most people live in their homes is usually very different from the way a home should look when it goes on the market. In order for someone to want to buy a home, they must be able to envision themselves living there.  Most sellers have to de-clutter, clean and un-customize their homes.