It has played out in your mind already, hasn't it? Less than 24 hours after you put your home up for sale, several buyers start a bidding war that results in an offer higher than your asking price. But what if that's not how selling your home plays out? What if 24 hours stretch into 24 days, then 24 weeks without a single promising offer? No doubt you'd like to avoid that second scenario. Steer clear of the following mistakes, and you'll decrease your chances of watching the months pass without a pending sale in sight.
Aiming too high
Some sellers figure they should determine the highest possible asking price for their home and then tack on a bit more for negotiating wiggle room. Who knows, maybe someone will offer full price anyway.
A pricing strategy like this backfires more often than not. For starters, many potential buyers won't even view your property if you value it above their price range. And if your home doesn't compare favorably to others offered for the same price, you are just helping sell other people's homes.
Even worse, when an overpriced home sits on the market, buyers wonder what's wrong with it. Many times, sellers wind up lowering their price below the level that would have attracted a sale had it been priced properly from the start.
Comparing your home to the wrong properties
When determining the asking price for your home, you can get valuable information from comparable properties. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should ask for the same price as the home down the street that sold last week. That house may have more rooms, better amenities, and incredible landscaping (or fewer, worse, and less-impressive).
You also may miss the mark if you base your price on similar properties in a different neighborhood. And don't pay too much attention to what other homeowners are asking. They may have over- or under-priced their property based on their own mistakes.
Finally, make sure to use recent comparable sales. The housing market can change quickly. Many Realtors are happy to provide you an assessment of your home's value based on recent, relevant comparable sales.
Ignoring the little things
Are you familiar with the book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... And It's All Small Stuff"? I don't think the author was giving advice about getting your home ready to sell. Little things count. Maybe you've learned to live with some minor imperfections about your house, but buyers won't be impressed. Fix dripping faucets, touch up chipped paint, replace broken door handles, patch cracks, and clean, clean, clean.
Surely house hunters want you around in case they have any questions for you, right? Wrong. Many people get uncomfortable with the owners present. They don't feel free to discuss the property objectively and may cut their viewing short. If you can't leave your property during a showing, put as much distance between you and the buyers as you can.
Certain aspects of your home's history and condition must be disclosed by law. You definitely don't want to conceal that information. You may also want to reveal aspects about your property that you're not required to reveal. Why? Most people will find out about them at some point anyway-perhaps from a neighbor or through their own observations or a professional inspection. Nothing can derail a real estate transaction quicker than an unpleasant surprise.
Ignoring an offer
You receive an offer much lower than you are willing to accept. Lower than anybody would accept. You might be inclined to ignore it. After all, it's an insult, right? Take a deep breath. Someone has expressed interest in purchasing your house. That's a good thing. Your Realtor can help you prepare a counteroffer or communicate to the other party that the offer is unacceptable but you would be willing to look at another offer that meets certain criteria. When you hear back from the prospective buyer, you can then decide if this transaction has a future.
Assuming all agents are the same
The terms Realtor and real estate agent are not synonymous. Only those agents who belong to the National Association of Realtors and pledge to adhere to a strict code of ethics may call themselves Realtors. Your Realtor will look out for your best interests and help you avoid mistakes that can leave your home languishing on the market.
This column was published in the Jan 20, 2008 edition of the Galveston County Daily News.
For all of your Pearland Real Estate needs, contact Danny Frank