Over the years we've noticed some relatively common mistakes home owners make when putting their property up for sale. Unfortunately, each of these mistakes can cause a property to sit on the market and sell for well below its potential. Even worse are the emotional consequences that follow as a result. A bad listing experience can be emotionally draining and a huge source of anxiety and stress.
The good news is all of these mistakes are preventable. You can avoid all of these common pitfalls by consulting with your agent well before you plan to list. Seek some proactive and professional guidance, and make the right choices that will lead to a successful sale.
Five Common Home Seller Mistakes
Below are 5 common pitfalls to avoid when selling your home.
Seller Mistake #1: "Do-it-yourself" home improvements that do more harm than good. Some owners choose to "DIY" their home improvement projects in order to save on expenses. This approach is perfectly fine if the outcome is a high-quality product. But if the work is shoddy it will lead to negative first impressions that cause buyers to question the overall integrity of the home.
Buyers know low quality in one area of the home usually means there is low quality in other areas, too. A sloppy paint job is the classic example. A poor paint job triggers buyers to scrutinize the structural components of the home, such as the electrical, plumbing, and roofing. And they'll discount the price if they're concerned about workmanship. This is a common example of how saving a few hundred dollars on DIY work before the sale can lead to thousands of dollars lost at the time of sale. As the old saying goes, "when in doubt, hire it out".
Seller Mistake #2: Failing to obtain the proper permits for home renovations. This mistake often goes hand-in-hand with mistake #1 above and is another example of "save now, pay later". We see this issue pop up a lot with finished basements, where owners add family room or rec room space without pulling the proper permits.
Sometimes owners intentionally bypass the permitting process in order to avoid paying real estate taxes on the newly finished space. In other cases it's a simple oversight by the owner or the contractor who performed the work. Regardless of the reason, failing to obtain the proper building permits can seriously hinder a sale.
The real estate condition report requires sellers to disclose remodeling work that was done without the proper permits. Listings with this disclosure generally take longer to sell and sell for a lower price than the competition. Buyers tend to shy away from properties that don't have the required permits. When they do submit an offer, it's typically for a discounted price.
Seller Mistake #3: Under-disclosing defects on the real estate condition report. This issue pops up a lot with water intrusion issues. The problem with water is it often leaves evidence that can be easily detected by buyers, and buyers will run from a listing when they fear a seller isn't being truthful. A musty basement, water stains, and soft or warped wood are all common tip-offs of prior water events. Home inspectors also have moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras which can easily detect water issues.
"When in doubt, disclose" are good words to follow as you complete your real estate condition report. If you can't fix a defect prior to sale (which we highly recommend), then fully disclosing it is an act of good faith which shows buyers you can be trusted. Full disclosure also helps you avoid a potential lawsuit down the road.
Seller Mistake #4: Not following professional staging advice.Staging is the single best way to increase your home's value on the open market, which is why we include this service as a standard item in our marketing plan. Time and time again we've seen owners increase their home's selling price by thousands of dollars - simply by following the advice of their stager. Owners who don't go through the staging process typically end up leaving thousands of dollars on the table.
Seller Mistake #5: Overpricing. Even in a seller's market it's possible to over-price a listing. Over-priced listings sit on the market. And the longer they sit, the more buyers question their value. You'll get the best offer for your home by pricing it correctly at the very beginning of your listing - when buyer interest is strongest. We'll share some tips for effective pricing in a future post.