Selling your home can be overwhelming and we know; we just sold ours. If you want to garner the best profit and reduce stress here are ten mistakes to avoid when selling your home.
There are certain mistakes to avoid when selling your home. Going through this process blindly, hiring a less than skilled agent and be frustrated is not necessary. Selling your home can be stressful; NO – it is stressful, but there are ways to eliminate some of the stress.
Keep in mind the real estate market is constantly shifting. We sold during the peak of the 2021/2021 real estate boom, but when you sell your home the market may be very different. These tips should transcend any market you may find yourself in. In a lot of cases most home owners are clueless when it comes to selling their home and with a little research and knowledge you can ensure this process is pleasant and not painful.
After living in Northern Virginia/DC Metro area, for just shy of twenty years, we were ready for a change and in July sold our home. Living in the shadow of the Nation’s Capitol can be draining both physically, emotionally and financially. The area is fast paced, a land filled with triple-A personalities and exhaustion.
Affiliate links are provided below. Please see my full disclosure.
My husband is originally from Tennessee and we figured Tennessee was the best place for us to move and eventually retire. This decision was not made overnight and for the past fourteen months we had been looking at properties in Tennessee. We were mentally and emotionally ready for a change. My husband received a new job offer the first week of May, we listed our house first of June, packed our truck and pulled out the first week of July. It was a whirlwindI!
I’m here to share the best way to sell your home and the mistakes to avoid so you can receive top dollar from your investment and be as stress-free during the process as possible.
Getting Emotional When Selling Your Home
I hit this first because getting emotional over selling your home can be the largest mistake for any homeowner. Most people are emotionally tied to their home and when you begin to think about other people living there emotions can kick in.
You’ve put in a lot of effort to purchase your home, add decor and create memories and that can be hard to let go of. Most people have a hard time controlling their emotions when it’s time to say goodbye, but once you decide to sell your home your mentality must change!
You are now a business person instead of a homeowner; think of the property as no longer being yours and see it as a financial transaction. This will help with ALL aspects of the sale from start to finish and even after you walk away at closing. Once you decide to sell is when you must “let go” of your home or it will be a tough journey until closing.
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To Hire or Not to Hire an Agent
Coming from someone who didn’t want to pay an agent a hefty 5-6% commission, researched using a less expensive real estate service and selling our home ourself – Hire an Agent!
I wasn’t opposed to hiring an agent but paying the high commission was unpleasant to think about After much research I didn’t feel confident enough to sell our home with a reduced broker style service or on my own. I thought about it and agonized over it, but after all my research it was the best decision to hire someone who would work hard for us.
Using Reduced Real Estate Brokers to Sell Your Home
We had a neighbor, two doors down, list their home three weeks before us and they chose to use a reduced real estate broker. In the end they had four showings and one offer. Which you may say sounds great, but in the 2021 DC area real estate boom that was not a good turnout. Yes, the broker offered them a much reduced commission, but they didn’t make on their house what I think they could have. Paying a good agent a higher commission in the end will likely benefit you.
After I saw their listing I was glad I had researched, interviewed agents and hired a fabulous real estate professional. Her marketing of our property, aiding in staging tips and fabulous photos and drone footage really brought potential buyers to view our home. Our neighbor had nominal quality photos at best and it made a huge difference in who come to see the house.
Selling Your Home Yourself
Since the market was so hot, I could take good photos and stage my own home; I thought for sure it would be a good idea to list the house myself. If I listed For Sale By Owner (FSBO) I would save the commission. After all my research I realized I lacked the knowledge or skills to negotiate deals in real estate. Is it something I could learn? Sure! But without knowledge and experience, in time for selling, I would be doing us a disservice to list our own home. Trust me…this was something I was sure I could do. I read all the articles that said not to list your own home and brushed it off! In the end I am glad we hired an agent.
In the end we had 48 showings, 17 written offers. The agent was able to negotiate our final closing price based off of the top three offers. In the end we closed at $130K over asking price because of the negotiating skills of our agent.
HIRE AN AGENT – A GOOD ONE!
Do you research and don’t use a friend. Your home is an investment and should be treated as such. Interview agents!! Ask them how they plan to market your home. Look at the photos of their other listings and the videos they produce. I literally selected agents to interview based on the quality of the photos and video.
Setting an Unrealistic Price
Setting the correct price is key and the most important aspect of the sale of your home. Getting this wrong can be detrimental to your sale and will require a lot of time and effort to regain lost ground. The agent you hire can help you set a realistic price that will attract people who are looking for homes in your price range. It is best to go with your agents expertise.
When we initially met with our agent we set on a listing price. However, a few days before the listing went active our agent recommended listing our home for $25k less. At first I was a little hesitant, but decided to follow her advice. Taking the price down was actually the best approach because it got more people in the door, drove demand up and got us a higher price.
Price can also be determined if you are in a buyer’s market or seller’s market and this fluctuates constantly. Currently, we are in a seller’s market, but several years ago we sold a home in a buyer’s market.
Skimping on Listing Photos When Selling Your Home
Photos were the most important aspect of listing our home and that goes back to hiring the right agent. Our agent didn’t just hire a photographer that showed up, took pictures and add them to our listing; she actually worked with the photographer and set the scene for the photos.
With many buyers finding their own homes on line you would be doing your listing a disservice if you don’t have any photos of your home, but you need to ensure the photos are really good! Professional photography will set your home apart from others and generate multiple showings.
You don’t have to stop at just photos; a video and exterior drone footage would set your listing apart too. Having your agent do a professional walk-through video of your home may help get more showings. Our agent did professional photos, video and drone footage which really helped ensure our property reached a certain buyer.
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Selling Your Home During Winter Months
Not selling during winter months may be based on where you live. Generally the winter is not the best time to sell a house according to experts. The likelihood that your house will be sitting on the market increases because fewer people are house hunting during the winter and holidays. This drives down demand and if you are not willing to price aggressively, it can hurt your chances of selling.
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Wasting Money on Needless Upgrades
There are a lot of things you can do to spruce up your home before selling. However, there are some things that may seem smart to spend the money to upgrade at the time but ultimately will only be a waste of money. Before you do anything major talk to your agent and see what upgrades would be helpful for the most profit.
You want to ensure the upgrades will really help sell your home and not eat into your overall profit.
Not Preparing for the Sale
It is very important to make sure you prep you house to sell by staging your home. Realtor.com says that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than those that aren’t staged. Moving.com suggests that clutter can make your home appear smaller and make it more difficult for buyers to picture themselves living in your home.
Prep your house for maximum profit and don’t make the mistake of forgetting this important element. Have your agent stop by to take a good look at your home. You may need to paint a room or change a light fixture or shift some furniture around.
Before your house is photographed ensure your house is ready and staged for the photos not just the showing. An experienced agent should be able to assist you with what might need to be done. Many agents offer staging help complimentary and others may charge a fee. It will all depend on how much staging help you need and if you need to have furniture and decor brought in. Or yo might need to have items removed to avoid the house feeling and appearing clutters.
Not Accommodating Buyers
If buyers want to see your house it’s best to accommodate them even if it could be an inconvenience to you. Stay focused at the task at hand, clean the house every time you have another showing, remove pets and clutter and ensure the house is free of odors.
Leave the house, and don’t just park across the street. Really leave and give a potential time to relax and see your home. You want them to feel comfortable in your home. The more comfortable they are and the more they like your home, the more likely they will write an offer.
Selling to Unqualified Buyers
So you’ve selected a wonderful agent, you have outstanding videos and photos and have had several showings and offers. Now’s the time to select a potential buyer but the highest offer isn’t always the best. If you want an easy road to closing it is important to choose a qualified buyer. One who has no or minimal contingencies if possible. All buyers should have a pre-approval letter before touring your home and your agent should vet this. There is no sense on someone touring your property who would not even come close to qualify.
Your agent should ease the burden of selecting a potential buyer(s) by reviewing all offers and each buyers financial situation. Your agent should also require Proof of Funds and if possible work with a local lender. Our agent hosted an open house and brought a local lender representative with her to the open house.
In the end we did select a buyer who was not using a local lender. The buyer had a strong financial portfolio, asked for zero contingencies and put down a $50K non-refundable earnest money deposit. These were strong, qualified buyers who would go all the way to closing with little to no headache.
Not Weighing Tax Implications for selling your home
Did you know that your home is considered a capital asset, subject to capital gains tax? For many people selling a home will not impose any tax implications, but it is something to be aware of.
If you are single, you will pay no capital gains tax on the first $250,000 of profit. Married couples enjoy a $500,000 exemption. If your home appreciated in value, you could be required to pay taxes on the profit. However, thanks to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, most homeowners are exempt.
The Bottom Line of Selling Your Home
Selling your home is no easy task and moving from one home to the next is difficult. Make sure you are mentally, emotionally and financially ready to sell your home.
It is crucial to know the steps to selling your home and trust these tips have been a help to you.