It is that time of year when homeowners think they should list their homes. There are some arguments against that logic, but that is another column. There are many things to consider when listing a home and many potential pitfalls. Many homeowners that list their homes find themselves in a trap of their own creation.
Trap number one to be avoided is overvaluing the home. What a seller thinks a home is worth and what the home will actually sell for are often two different amounts. Homeowners tend to be sentimental and see all the upsides of their home. Over improvement is another reason homeowners believe their home is more than it really is. Whatever the cause of the over valuation, listing the home at a price over its market value is a guaranteed way to have the home sit for sale.
A professional opinion is always the preferred method to price a home. Using comparable sales data on similar homes that are for sale or have sold recently is the best way to gage the market. A realtor will have easy access to data on “for sale” and “sold” homes. A good rule of thumb is that if a home doesn’t have any offers in the first 30 days on the market, it is priced too high.
Trap number two is not making a home shine. All the clutter should be hauled away or stored. The home should be thoroughly cleaned as well as the yard. Any major issues should be addressed. The home should be shown in its best possible light to garner the most possible attention. Many buyers assume that a well presented home is a well-kept home and visa-versa. A home that does not pass the first glance test will sit for sale on the market.
Trap number three is being upset by lowball offers and effusing to negotiate. Every negotiation starts somewhere, whether it starts at one dollar or a million dollars. An offer is an offer and a counter offer should always be made. The goal is to sell the house, not win a personal battle. Whether it is for a washer and dryer, a certain piece of furniture, or just the price, negotiation is part of the process. Sellers that refuse to negotiate have homes that sit on the market for sale.
Trap number four in not disclosing everything about the home. Leaky roofs, cracked foundations, water issues all can kill a sale if not properly disclosed. The majority of home buyers today have a professional home inspection done. All of the home’s defects will come to light during the inspection process and a seller will lose credibility with undisclosed issues. Buyers want to feel safe in they are getting what they are paying for. Tying up a home under contract only to have the deal fail due to an undisclosed defect will lead to it sitting on the market for sale.
The biggest trap of all is not having a plan. Sellers should have a plan for all possible scenarios. What is the absolute lowest amount that would be accepted, what to do if a cash buyer walks in and wants to close in three weeks, what to do if the home sits on the market for six months, and what to do if the home doesn’t sell at all. Plans should include where the seller will live, where belongings should be stored, and what to do about family pets. A good plan saves many headaches.
Homeowners considering selling their home should contact a professional realtor and avoid these common traps.
Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and long- time Windham resident. You can contact Rick with your real estate questions or needs at firstname.lastname@example.org .