Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Are you planning to sell your home? Heads up: these blunders can cost you a lot of money.

Just like buying a home, selling one can be wearisome and overwhelming. Imagine letting strangers into your home – a home that you’ve lived in, made memories in, and loved, perhaps for many years – and have them looking around in your rooms and closets and checking even your cupboards. Imagine hearing criticism after criticism, and after all that, an offer that you believe falls short of what the house is worth to you.

What’s worse, some sellers find their homes sitting on the market for months – even years – without a single offer. While the market can be to blame for a home not selling quickly, there are times when the fault rests on the seller’s shoulders. Here, you will find some of the most common mistakes made by people when putting their house up for sale.

1. Remaining too emotionally attached to your home.

A house can mean so much to a family, especially if it’s one that they’ve lived in for a very long time. It can be difficult to detach yourself from the memories you’ve created in your home and look at it as a product that you’re trying to sell; however, that’s exactly what you need to do. Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, you need to start thinking of yourself as a home seller and treat the process as a business transaction. Don’t take the potential buyers’ comments personally. Try to keep your head when you hear negative observations and to see things from their perspective. Remember that you must be willing to compromise on the price if you want to be able to sell your property.

2. Failing to de-personalize the house.

This goes hand in hand with point number one. Leaving your family photos on the mantel, your wife’s collection of exotic masks on the walls, your children’s drawings on the fridge door, or their trophies on the shelf will keep potential buyers from imagining themselves in the home. Clear out most of the personal touches you’ve made in the house over the years, if not all, and put them in storage for the time being. As a rule of thumb, anything that shows a face or name should be removed as a precaution since you are letting strangers into the house. Also, clear away anything that can distract the buyer, such as items or mementos that clutter up the place or can potentially sow discord.

3. Not working with an experienced professional.

Unless you yourself are a real estate professional, trying to sell your own home is probably unwise. While real estate agents come with a hefty price tag (typically 5 to 6 percent of your home’s sale price), they have the necessary experience to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Good agents will ensure that you get a fair, realistic and competitive price for your home; directly communicate with buyers, relieving you of the emotional burden that the task entails; and, handle any issues that can spring up during the process (as they usually do), among others. They are also familiar with all the paperwork involved and can walk you through them expertly. Meanwhile, real estate lawyers can help ensure that the contract between you and the buyer adheres to state laws; protect you by making sure that the negotiations process is legal; provide you with relevant legal information regarding the selling of your property; and, prepare crucial closing documents.

4. Not getting your home ready for the sale.

While it’s understandable that you want to put your home on the market as quickly as possible, one of the most ill-advised things to do is to skip or skimp on the necessary preparations. This includes repainting rooms that need freshening up, repairing problem areas (leaky faucets, cracks on the wall, water stains, etc.), and cleaning up and getting rid of clutter. Don’t forget to include the outdoor areas of your home: broken roof tiles or missing shingles, grimy windows, overgrown lawn, and flaking exterior paint all point to neglect and will lead your prospective buyers to think that the house will need more repairs. You might think that doing all these things will cost you a lot of money, but you will lose more money if you don’t. Potential buyers will either offer less than the ideal asking price or look elsewhere.

Staging your home and taking great photos are also part of the preparation process. Staging can involve refreshing and rearranging current furnishings or modifying and enhancing accessories. You can also choose to hire a professional home stager if you feel you and/or your agent are not up to the task.

5. Concealing information from buyers.

You might think that you can get away with keeping valuable information about your home from potential buyers and/or their inspector, such as the fact that you hear blaring traffic noises very early in the morning, or that your basement gets flooded when there’s torrential rain. You ought to know right now that doing so would be a big mistake because you will always be found out in the end. Either you are setting yourself and the buyer up for a protracted and extremely unpleasant negotiating period, or you will be facing a lawsuit after the sale of your house.