Here is Our Best Advice for Avoiding the
Top 20 Mistakes Sellers Make
(#11 and #15 may surprise you)
Although some aspects of real estate have changed as our industry continues to adjust to the pandemic (virtual closings, safety precautions, etc.) much of our guidance to our Sellers has not. In particular, our instruction to Sellers on how to circumvent the most common mistakes still holds true, so we wanted to share that advice with you here.
1. Overpricing your home and expecting buyers to negotiate.
In our local market, the median selling price of homes has consistently been around 99% of list price for many years. Even now, as we are selling amid an ongoing global pandemic, there has yet to be any sort of “pandemic pricing” where sellers are taking a large reduction off of their sales price due to the current events. So if you’re a Seller right now, it would not be prudent to overprice your home in an attempt to time current events. Buyers avoid overpriced homes rather than negotiate, in any market, so price accurately. Overpriced homes are overlooked by buyers and often linger longer on the market, which increases their chances of actually selling for less than market value. To garner the highest price for your home, our advice is to price correctly and intelligently.
2. Not starting home improvements soon enough.
Most sellers have an idea as to when they want to list their home and have it sold by, often down to an exact day. The majority of sellers also make at least one improvement to the home before listing. And more often than not, this improvement work takes longer than expected, which can cause unnecessary stress by pushing back your entire timeline. If you plan to list your home in 2 months or less, our best advice is to get started immediately, especially if there is a thing or two that needs fixing up first. We can manage and schedule all the repair work needed (read more about that here), but we need time to do it for you. Service providers need to be scheduled, and repairs need to be planned. Let’s work together with your timeline in mind, so we can maximize your home’s value and keep everything on schedule.
3. Thinking that you can find a buyer by simply listing your home on the MLS.
There is a lot more to marketing a home than just putting it on the MLS, especially if you want to get the highest price for your home. This has never been more true than today, when yesterday’s culture of busy open houses and lots of tours did not present a safety concern for anyone. The shopping habits of buyers has substantially changed the last few months. They are carefully shopping online, highly selective of homes they tour, and want to limit unnecessary interactions. Which means that most of the marketing, communication and negotiation with prospective buyers happens before they even set foot in your home. And none of this can happen without a really good agent (like us!) working on your behalf and communicating effectively with the buyer or their agent.
4. Mediocre photography.
Stunning photography – and videography – is absolutely essential right now. Never has there been a time when the online marketing of your home has so directly impacted buyer demand. Photos need to showcase everything about the home, have proper lighting, staging and artistry to stand out. Professional drone videos are extremely impactful and buyers love them. The videos give a more authentic sense to buyers about your home and surrounding community. Sharing videos and meaningful photography with prospective buyers results in more engaged and vested buyers touring your home.
5. Rushing marketing preparations.
Here’s how the timing for marketing preparations realistically happens in today’s market. Photos are taken, the video footage is shot, then the photos and video are edited and sent to you for review. Once approved, we move forward with marketing preparations, which includes both print and online. We generally suggest planning for at least a week from the time photos are taken, to the day your home goes on the market, to allow for time to prepare and execute marketing effectively. We can expedite this if necessary, but it is best to allow adequate time for the most effective marketing of your home.
6. Discounting first impressions.
Zillow reported earlier this year that pageview data on their site shows homes average 74 page views their first day on the market. By the fifth day, that’s cut nearly in half to 38 views, and falls to 18 views per day after two weeks. Excellent photography and strong online marketing when you first list your home is very important. Don’t list your home before the marketing is all ready to go.
7. Not fixing the small things.
Sellers often end up ultimately skipping the repairs that really make a difference with first impressions (despite their best intentions) because nobody actually has any free time right now. The problem is that these little repairs can have a huge impact on the sale of your home. Instead of letting these things slip, let’s plan ahead and hire a handyman to get these minor things done. Our team can hire, schedule and oversee the handyman work for you – all subject to your approval – all we need is to sit down together and make a plan.
8. Feeling insulted by a low offer.
Occasionally we do get buyers who come out of left field with a really low ball offer, and maybe they are prepared to increase their offer substantially, or maybe they have an unfounded idea that they can “get a deal” on your home. Either way, it is best to try not to get emotional and proceed with a counter offer.
9. Underestimating staging.
Staging continues to be a significant factor in securing the highest price for your home. We live in a world with high expectations when it comes to home decor, so it is important to really discuss staging options when preparing to list a home. Virtual staging is becoming more prevalent in our local market, so whatever way you go about it, a staging discussion is necessary. And if you’re selling a vacant home, it is critical that it is staged. See how we can help you with staging here.
10. Not staying informed about the competition.
Buyers who are ready to make an offer on a home are constantly watching the market. Everyday they scour the market for the right home. When you are getting ready to sell, we advise subscribing to a daily listing alert, which we will set up for you, so you can track and monitor the competition. This information will also help you gauge any changes in market demand, price fluctuations or any other important information. We will help you interpret and understand the movement in the market so you can better understand how it impacts the sale of your home.
11. Not reading what you sign.
There is a lot of paperwork involved (all digitally signed) but you still need to carefully read and understand it. Our team has unique experience in legal documents and contract law, so please don’t hesitate to ask questions! We can help you understand even the most confusing legal-speak. Our job is to make sure that you are fully informed about the process and understand everything you’re signing.
12. Failing to disclose.
Sellers are legally obligated in Utah to disclose material facts about a home. Failing to disclose can result in legal action. But some things may seem unclear, like whether you need to disclose a really unfriendly neighbor. Tell us what you’re concerned about, and we will guide you as to your obligation so you can feel confident that you are legally protected.
13. Thinking your opinion doesn’t matter.
The experience of your realtor is significant in the successful sale of your home. But it is your home, and your opinion matters. You ultimately decide the asking price, the selling price, the timing of when to sell, what improvements should be made, and how your home is marketed. We are your guide, and offer our expertise, but the final decision is always yours.
14. Not looking at the weather.
Sweltering heat or frigid temperatures can temporarily affect buyer movement for a weekend. So stay nimble if you can, and allow some time to move your anticipated listing day if the weather simply doesn’t work out. Utah has four beautiful seasons and homes are sold throughout the year, but buyers need to actually see your home in person and usually don’t want to do so in the middle of a blizzard.
15. Forgetting about your closet.
Buyers open every single closet, drawer and cupboard. Overstuffed shelves, dirty junk drawers, and unorganized piles of clothes is not what they want to see. Marie Kondo your closets and storage areas. It will make your home feel more spacious, clean and maintained.
16. Discounting buyer feedback.
Sometimes you may want to discount the feedback from buyers as irrelevant or inaccurate, especially if it is something you disagree with. But the buyers touring your home are also touring the current competition and experiencing the market first hand, so it is worth really listening to their feedback with an open mind and critical ear. We will help guide you through the feedback received and discuss with you what the market is saying about your home.
17. Having a misconception about what is important to today’s buyer.
The real estate market is fluid and dynamic, which in part reflects the changing needs and desires of current buyers. What was important to you when you bought your home may very well not be as significant to today’s buyer. We are out touring with buyers everyday, and have a real pulse on what they are looking for in a home. Hire us, and trust our expertise and insight as to what we believe drives buyer demand right now.
18. Not deep-cleaning your home.
Homes that are messy, cluttered and dirty give an impression of neglect to the buyer. This causes pause, and sometimes alarm, to the buyer, often resulting in lower offers. A clean home is so important, we’ll help you with this one if you need it.
19. You (or your pet) being home for showings.
Nothing negatively affects a potential buyer more than walking into a home they’re excited to see, and awkwardly running into the owner. If a showing is scheduled, you and your pet need to leave the home. It is also important for sellers to not overly restrict showing times, especially now when safety and social distancing during showings is important to everyone.
20. Not hiring us!
Who you choose to sell your home with will impact how much money you make, and whether you have a positive or negative experience during the selling process. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the agent who immediately discounts fees or promises the highest selling price. Do your research on agents – read reviews, look at their online profiles, and ask for references. Ask the agent about the marketing they would recommend for your home, their opinion as to the competition, local market dynamics, and what improvements they would recommend. Ask the agent about what homes they have actually sold in the area, and their knowledge as to that particular localized buyer. A lot goes into selling your home. Hire the best agent you can find (hint – hire us!).
Have more questions about selling?
Reach out to our team today. We are happy to talk with you about your specific home anytime.