Selling your home? Every seller wants the same thing: to sell their house for the most money possible, as quickly as possible. This is exactly what your real estate agent wants too. That said, there are usually two things keeping this from happening: price and condition.
Price and condition are always the deciding factors for buyers, and they also affect the amount they may offer. Luckily for you, these are also the only two things you have control over!
So let’s take a look at the top five mistakes you may be making if your home hasn’t sold yet.
Mistake #1: Thinking your house is special.
As a homeowner, you are proud of your home. You might even think it’s superior to all others in your neighborhood. This might be because of the time and money you spent remodeling it. Perhaps you hand-picked every slat of Brazilian Hardwood and personally laid it, or chose a ridiculously expensive gold leaf wallpaper that you just had to have. You may assume if you spend a lot of money on bells and whistles, that MUST make it worth more, right? Wrong.
Buyers are looking at your home, trying to envision it as their home. They’re easily distracted by your loud, hot pink bedroom walls and won’t consider that it was a custom color made to match the loud pink zebra comforter and matching curtains. They’re also mentally calculating how much money they need to spend to refinish those hardwood floors, repaint and have that wallpaper removed.
You must understand your house isn’t special to anyone but you, so it’s always best to cater to buyers by showing them your home’s cleanest, most neutral face. You need to clean your home until it shines, ditch the clutter, paint, make needed repairs, and keep up with your landscaping.
You need to trust your real estate agent (not Zillow) on where to price your home. And remember one important thing: Just because you spent $50,000 on a kitchen remodel doesn’t mean you’re getting every penny back (despite what your shoebox full of receipts might be telling you).
Mistake #2: Thinking you’re a salesperson.
As a seller you may think you’re being helpful by sticking around during showings to help agents and potential buyers see how special your home is. You might think the buyer’s agent can’t possibly know how to showcase your home as well as you can, or have any clue what the really important things are to point out.
So you stick around, you smile super big and you’re super nice to everyone. You point out the hardwood floors, custom wallpaper and things that you love about the house, because you are a better salesperson than some real estate agent who has never lived there, right? Wrong!
Actually, you’re not coming off as super nice, but annoying (at best) and more than likely cocky or creepy (hey, just telling it like it is). While gushing over all the things you love, those may be the very things the buyer hates.
The best thing to do is leave the house and give the buyers some space. Buyers want privacy. They don’t want to be cornered into awkward small talk with the homeowner or feel rushed when making the most expensive purchase of their life.
Mistake #3: Thinking they will come back.
Imagine you had a long day at work. It’s a hot, muggy day. Your car’s air-conditioning is acting up, making you stick to your seats on your longer-than-usual commute home. Your kids are bickering and everyone is starving. Then your phone rings. It’s your real estate agent calling with a last-minute showing request… in ten minutes. This is NOT what you need right now, but you want to sell your house.
You have two choices. Option A: plead for the showing to be rescheduled, because you mistakenly assume the buyers and their agent will gladly rearrange their schedule around yours and come back.
Or, Option B, remind yourself that you want your home sold, and these buyers may only have the next hour or so to see as many homes as possible before making a decision because they’re relocating from out of state (or whatever their unique situation may be).
Never, ever, go with Option A.
No matter how you feel or what kind of day you’re having, you need to be accommodating. Sometimes you just have to bend over backwards. Buyers hold all the power because they’re the ones with the money and ability to make your dream of selling come true.
So as you load up your hungry, fussy kids, you smile and wave as you back out of the driveway and head to the nearest drive-through. You’ve made the right decision! You realize you must suck it up and make your house available… even when you really don’t want to, because buyers will rarely come back at a better time.
Mistake #4: Not being willing to negotiate.
So you got an offer on your home, and you accepted it! Congrats! Regardless of how long your home had been on the market or what the final terms are, this is exciting because it means all the showings are over and you’re roughly 30 days away from closing.
After the home inspection, the buyers ask for some repairs to be made, or possibly for you to purchase a home warranty for them or assistance with closing costs.
Most buyers will ask for those things; it’s nothing to get bent out of shape over.
This is where you, the seller, need to be willing to meet in the middle and show the buyer that you’re serious about selling. Otherwise you risk your deal falling apart and being stuck with the house which you’ll eventually shell out more money to fix anyway.
Sure, you can always re-list your home, but it may sit on the market for 30, 60, 90 days or more. Meanwhile you’ll have to deal with more showings, keeping the house spic & span, and losing sleep due to the anxiety of the unknown.
Please remember that this pending sale on your home has contingencies, and it could fall apart for a number of reasons. The appraisal is one contingency; the home inspection is another. Both of them may require you to be flexible and willing to negotiate. If you aren’t and the deal falls apart, then you have no one to blame but yourself.
Also, your first offer is usually your best offer, and oftentimes your only offer. Once you secure an interested buyer, you need to trust your agent and work with them and your buyers to get the home sold and not waste time on bickering over a $100 light fixture or $400 home warranty.
Mistake #5: Pets.
Last but not least, not everyone is a pet lover. Many people are allergic to cats or dogs, or have sensitive noses that can smell urine and stinky litter boxes on the other side of the house.
When you’re selling your house and you have pets, you really need to make the home look and smell as if no pets ever stepped foot in it. Your cat’s favorite spot on the couch that’s coated with 4 inches of matted fur needs to get scraped off (with a lint roller a few hundred times if need be). The food bowls, cat trees, pet toys, pet beds, scratching posts, cat condos, etc. need to be out of sight too. So do the fur babies themselves.
Before you leave, make sure your backyard is free of landmines. You may as well put Whiskers’ litter box in a garbage bag and store it in the garage or closet or someplace out of sight and smell.
When a buyer leaves, they’ll remember their first impression, so you want it to be a good one. Pet odor can be a deal breaker, even if everything else about your home is perfect.
Your home isn’t particularly special to anyone but you, so keep it clean and showing beautifully and as neutral as possible at all times. Don’t try to be the real estate agent (i.e., be sure to leave the house during showings), and take the pets with you! Don’t assume that buyers will bend over backwards to see your house—you need to do the bending, and you need to be flexible with negotiations too.
If you follow this advice, you shouldn’t have a hard time selling quickly and you’ll avoid the unnecessary stress that many sellers endure because they become their own worst enemy by sabotaging their own sale.
By Sarah D’Hondt