Time to Trade Up? 5 Expensive First-Time Seller Mistakes
If you are “moving on up” to a new house, and preparing to sell your first home, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make the process easier, less stressful and more profitable! Learn how to avoid these common mistakes that first-time sellers often make.
#1 Setting The Wrong Price
Many first-time sellers think, “I’ll start with a high price, and if it doesn’t sell, I can always come down.” However, if you set your initial price too high, it will stay on market longer, which can actually result in a lower final selling price.
On the other hand, if you start with a price that’s too low, you are leaving money on the table.
Hiring a knowledgeable real estate professional is the first step to determining the best price for your house, since they have experience in pricing homes and access to resources for making an accurate analysis of comparable properties. They also know how to factor in the relative condition of your home, your neighborhood, and current market demand, which will help you make more informed pricing decisions.
#2 Getting Emotionally Involved
Separating your house from your concept of “home” can be difficult, especially with a first sale. Remember, the structure you are selling is a thing, not your identity. Once you decide to sell, try to disengage emotionally. Doing so will help you handle negotiations much more successfully.
Consider selling your current home as a means to achieve your next goals… because it is! Instead of becoming emotional about the sale, why not focus on your next location? Your new place will become “home” because you and your family, your things, and your memories will now live in that new location.
In terms of emotions, it’s also important to realize that offers will probably come in below your asking price. Try not to react negatively, even to a low-ball offer. It’s not offensive; it’s a starting point.
Likewise, don’t lose a sale over something small. For example, if a buyer admires a custom ceiling fan that you planned to keep, recognize that it can be replaced, whereas a buyer at the same offer price may not be replaceable.
#3 Failing to Accommodate Others
Attempt to facilitate the schedules of potential buyers and your real estate agent as much as possible. Making it difficult to see your home can generate a bad impression of the house itself and will reduce the number of potential buyers interested in your home.
Yes, sometimes it’s going to be inconvenient for you, especially if you have children and/or pets (neither of which should be present during showings). But this is a temporary problem that could make the difference in thousands of additional dollars in your sales price. With more people interested, your home is more likely to sell faster, without price reductions, or even potentially resulting in a bidding war between multiple buyers. It’s worth the extra effort.
#4 Deciding Not to Stage
Staging should be done both inside and outside your home. This goes beyond simple curb appeal. Many potential buyers will do their first “home shopping” online, so having LOTS of attractive interior and exterior photos will help your home move from the “just browsing” category to one buyers want to see in person.
Consider repairs a part of staging. Pay for a pre-listing inspection to identify those areas that will need to be addressed before putting your home on the market. Making these repairs in advance will prevent discouraging potential buyers over small negatives.
Finally, try to avoid moving into your new house before selling your old one. Vacant houses usually command lower selling prices.
#5 Overlooking Important Details
With all the time and effort focused on preparing your house for sale, it’s easy to overlook important financial and legal details. For example, before bringing potential buyers onto your property, check with your insurance agent to be sure you are properly insured.
In most cases, it’s a bad idea to sign a contract with a buyer who isn’t already approved for financing (unless they’re paying cash and don’t need a mortgage to buy your home). Doing this could create extended delays, costing you both time and money.
Be sure you know all fees, expenses and closing costs before signing a sales contract. On closing day, it’s too late to negotiate for discounts, credits or the waiving of fees.
Check with your tax advisor to be sure you are selling when long-term capital gains tax breaks might apply and plan accordingly. Selling at the right time of the year can also be important in terms of attracting more buyers, with the spring/summer seasons generally preferable to winter months.