Whether it’s the home you live in or an investment property, selling a house is a substantial transaction potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Errors and oversights can cost you time and money, and you might be surprised to learn there are some all-too-common – and disastrously costly – mistakes sellers tend to make, over and over again.
1. Selling without an agent
Some people think selling without a real estate agent means making more money because they won’t have to pay a hefty commission.
However, the facts and figures do not support this theory.
Agents have inside, industry-specific information a homeowner just doesn’t have access to. And obviously, they understand the industry, the local market and what makes buyers tick.
They’re morally bound to achieve the highest possible price for your property, and they’ve been trained in negotiation and how to use tried and proven techniques to facilitate the sale.
Ultimately, it’s more than likely that selling your property independently will end up costing you more, since you won’t have the skills, knowledge or negotiating experience to achieve the same price an agent can.
It’s just too hard when you’re emotionally involved.
2. Choosing the wrong agent
Yes, you need an agent – but not all agents are created equal.
Your real estate agent is the mastermind behind selling your real estate asset. Finding an agent you’re comfortable working with and one you trust – i.e. one who isn’t a shady smooth-talker and who has sound knowledge of the area and a good sales track record – is crucial to a successful sale.
You’re hiring the agent to sell your property, so it’s critical you compare a few to see how comfortable you feel with them. You should also check their previous sales performances and look into their commission structure.
If it doesn’t feel like the right fit, keep looking.
3. Advertising before the house or unit is ready
There are no two ways about it: it’s a bad idea to start advertising your home before you’re ready for people to see it. Period.
In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest ways to make sure you don’t make as much money on your home as you should.
Ensure all improvements like repainting, fixing front and back yards, and completing any obvious repairs are ticked off your to-do list before you open the doors to potential buyers.
Otherwise, you will lose people before they’ve even stepped inside and you’ll more than likely lose money on your sale.
4. Using unflattering listing photos
Photos are the first impression buyers will have of your property and they must show the home in its best light.
Images that are blurry, poorly composed or positioned at strange angles do you and your property a huge disservice.
Furthermore, a lounge that is littered with toys and clutter, or bedrooms filled with creepy dolls, do very little to impress potential buyers.
That’s not to say you should Photoshop your photos. Buyers will figure out that ruse as soon as they enter the house and you’ll immediately lose their trust as it could leave them wondering what else you’re hiding.
But flattering, clear photos taken on a good quality camera is a must. It’s reasonable to ask your agent to take better photos if you’re unhappy with those on your listing too.
5. Hanging around during open inspections
Being present at an inspection makes buyers nervous. They want to be able to look around carefully, comment to each other and pick apart the features of the home without having to be polite.
Having the owner present can prompt would-be buyers to rush through the property if they’re feeling uncomfortable, which is an undesirable outcome as well.
Keep in mind you’re paying your agent for their expertise, so let them work their magic.
During open inspections, go for a long walk or head to the shops; just make sure you’re anywhere but loitering around the property.
6. Holding on to the property in the hopes of a rising market
The reality is that our property markets are unlikely to shift dramatically over the course of a six-month period at this stage of the property cycle.
If you’re holding on to your property, hoping to get more money for it in the short time, you might find yourself waiting for a long time.
While checking historical market movement is helpful, no one can predict what will happen in the future. Playing a waiting game can end up costing you more in mortgage payments and expenses (not to mention the mental energy it consumes) than just selling when the time is right.
7. Setting the price too high
This one is the number one costly blunder property sellers make.
It often happens when home owners add an ‘emotional tax’ on the value of the property, believing it to be worth more than the agent recommends because they have their heart invested in the home.
Overvaluing is a dangerous mistake that causes the property to linger on the market for too long with no bites from buyers, who are put off an asking price that is far higher than similar properties in the area. Do your own research into the value of homes in the neighbourhood and also trust your agent’s professional guidance.
There are no shortcuts to making a quick sale as there are so many variables at play. But if you take the time to choose the right agent, do some homework of your own and prepare your property for sale by making it look its best, you’ll hit the formula for the best outcome possible.
Kate Forbes, property strategist, Metropole Property Strategists