Planning to sell your home? As a home seller most of your success is due to the planning and preparation that you put into your listing well before it ever hits the MLS. Consult with a trusted real estate agent several months in advance of your anticipated sale. Get a solid game plan in place for your pricing, staging, and marketing. Your advanced planning and preparation will pay off big-time when your home hits the open market.
Eight Seller Mistakes
This list is inspired by Massachusetts REALTOR Bill Gassett's excellent post on top home seller mistakes. Check out his article for more advice. Stop the sabotage, and avoid these common listing mistakes.
1. Advertising your pets
Many of us are pet lovers, but that doesn't mean we love other people's pets, especially in the home we are about to buy. Many buyers have pet allergies. Others simply don't like dogs or cats. If you have a pet and you're selling your home, be sure you minimize the fact that your furry little friend shares your home with you.
First and foremost this means you should eliminate any evidence of your pet from your listing photos. Have a plan to remove your pet for all showings. And be sure to keep Fido's food dish and water bowl out of plain view. The same goes for Muffy's litter box and toys. Remove framed photos of your pet so they don't become a point of focus. And of course, keep your yard clean.
2. Ignoring staging
This is one of the most critical and most common home seller mistakes. Your staging provides the foundation for your entire listing. Superb staging is a must have for killer listing photos and video. It creates an awesome online presentation for your listing, gets you more showings, and helps you sell your home quickly and for a high market price. Be sure you consult with a professional home stager well before you put your home up for sale. Then follow your stager's recommendations. Take some before and after photos. You'll be amazed by your home's positive transformation.
Overpricing is the most common and perhaps the most costly listing mistake. Very often it plays out something like this: Mr and Mrs Seller list their home during the hot spring market. Mr and Mrs Seller overprice their home. The peak buying season passes without any offers, so the Sellers finally lower their price in the late summer. By this time the market has cooled off considerably and the new price is still too high. The house sits on the market through the fall, and so the Sellers - somewhat desperate - lower their price one or two more times during the cold winter market. Once again the Sellers are behind the curve, and the house sits on the market through the holiday season. Finally, the market begins to warm on the other side of the holidays. That's when Mr and Mrs Buyer come along and make their offer. The Buyers are thrilled by the great deal they're getting on their new home. The Sellers, exhausted by their journey, are relieved to move on.
4. Using amateur listing photos
Bad photos do more harm than good. In fact you're almost better off posting no pictures at all than to market your listing with poor photos. Remember, your first showings occur online, not in person. And photos are a buyer's primary focus when viewing online listings.
Unless your agent is a very skilled photographer, your listing pictures should be outsourced to a professional who specializes in real estate photography. A professional photographer will ensure your exterior photo and every one of your rooms look their very best online. Ask your agent whether or not she includes professional photos as part of her marketing, and take a look at her listings to make sure the photos are high quality.
Nothing says "don't buy me" more than a rented listing. You and your tenant have different motivations. You want to sell your home; your renter wants to live in it. Unless you have a dream tenant, it's next to impossible to stage a rented property. A rental simply feels like a rental.
Rented properties tend to have poor listing photos, and they tend to be ill-prepared for showings (see photo below). Rentals can also be inconvenient to show. Most showings require at least 24 hours advance notice. Some tenants won't accommodate showings while others will cancel at the last minute.
Unless you're selling an income property you should put your home on the market after the lease is over. Once the lease is over you can control the circumstances of your sale rather than you being at the mercy of your tenant.
6. Marketing your home as a craigslist special
Craigslist can be a very legitimate source for very legitimate buyers (we advertise all of our listings here). But if it's your only form of marketing watch out. You'll be approached by a disproportionate share of low-ballers.
There is a segment of the population out there (investors) that is constantly on the lookout for FSBO and craigslist sellers. After all, craigslist is the place to go for a great deal. These buyers know you're not represented, and they assume your home can be had for a below market price. If craigslist is your only marketing tool, you'll have a hard time realizing the true market value of your home. And you could become a reluctant landlord by default. Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Invest in marketing that exposes your home to all of the buyers in your market.
7. Refusing to work with buyer agents
If you're selling FSBO, a buyer agent can be your best friend. After all, she is bringing you a pre-approved buyer. She's well-versed in all of the local real estate laws, and she knows how to properly complete all of the required forms for your transaction. In fact she will end up doing a fair amount of your work for you. You are already saving on the listing side commission. As a FSBO seller, what more could you ask for?
8. Hiring and firing
One sure way to sabotage your sale is to hire and fire a series of agents whose plans are doomed to fail from the very beginning. This leads to nothing more than a long history of expired listings and a whole lot of frustration. If your listing has been a tough sell over the last few years, know that you can get your home sold. A listing can almost always be fixed through some combination of better staging, better photos, and better pricing.
There is no amount of marketing that can sell a severely over-priced home, but there are always a few agents who are willing to give it a shot. A better approach is to do your due diligence and hire a real estate agent you can trust. Be open to your agent's opinions and recommendations. Have a dialogue. Agree on a plan. Then carry it out.
For more home selling tips, check out these excellent posts from these real estate bloggers: