Selling your house can be a difficult time. It’s stressful, emotional and your home has meaning to you that you may not see in others. Additionally, most of us don’t sell houses often. It’s difficult to be good at and feel comfortable with something that you may only do a few times in your life. Unfortunately, many of those that we ask for help have their own agenda, and sometimes that lines up with what we want. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
This means that it’s important that you arm yourself with your own education before selling your house. Part of that education is knowing what not to do. Here are a few common mistakes that home sellers make. Hopefully, you can avoid them.
Not Doing Your Own Research When Selling Your House
Just learning what you can before selling your house will make a big difference. Here are some simple things you can do as you start your home selling journey.
Know What Your House Is Worth
Before you talk to an agent or a potential buyer, have an idea of what your house is worth. Of course, you don’t do this for a living and your estimates may not be perfect but they will educate you enough to get an idea and you will know the questions to ask. Realtors do this largely through a process of comparing “comps” or comparable prices. This means that they look at other houses for sale, or that have sold, in your area. They then use these to compare to determine a listing price for your house. Prices for houses sold are much better than houses for sale because someone can ask any price they want for a house they are selling. That doesn’t mean they will get it.
You can look at sites like Zillow to get these prices. You want to look for houses of similar size and configuration, like the same square footage, the same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and amenities. You can then adjust the price for things like a more (or less) modern kitchen or bathrooms. Perhaps you have a pool or more yard. All of these will have an effect on the price. Just doing the research will help you as you set the prices.
Know What Closing Costs Look Like
Look at some of the things that will come up at the closing table and avoid surprises. These are things like taxes, paying off your mortgage, liens, seller concessions (money or work to fix things that may be wrong with your house.) You probably can’t change these things but doing the research will help you avoid surprises.
Know People That Are Helping You Sell Your House
Get good referrals for people you will need to help you sell your house. Find a good attorney and a good real estate agent who knows the area and is truly representing you. Understand your obligations to them upfront and interview a few of them. Ask them tough questions and make sure they are there to help you.
You are selling your home. You may have memories there (good and bad). Having people walk through your house, or having a realtor tell you what you should fix, change, or get rid of can be very difficult. You feel judged. Do everything you can not to be emotional about your decisions when selling your house. It’s personal to you but not too many others and that puts you at a disadvantage.
Unrealistic Price Expectations
Along with doing your research, make sure you set a realistic price. It’s difficult. This is where your research and good help comes in. You obviously don’t want to set too low a price and cheat yourself. You also need to be careful about setting too high a price. It might make you uncompetitive, potential buyers may bypass even looking at your house. You might even get an offer.
The problem is that an accepted offer isn’t the end of the process. Your buyer may need financing from the bank. The bank doesn’t care what the list price or the offer was. The bank cares what the house is worth. They want to protect their investment and they’re going to have the house inspected and get something called an appraisal. This is where a professional comes in and prices the house. If the appraisal comes in too low, the buyer can’t get financing and you no longer have an offer and your house still hasn’t sold.
Being Difficult to Buyers
One of the challenges of selling your house is having to regularly turn your life upside down, being thrown out of your own home for open houses and showings. This is an important part of the home selling process. People don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something they can’t see. They also will go look at another house of yours that isn’t available.
Be as accommodating as you reasonably can. Make the house available for showings. Make your house look as good as it can. You don’t want to emotionally invest but your buyers to fall in love with your house. Make sure it’s in the best shape it can be. It will sell faster and maybe even for more money.
Hiding Major Problems
It can be tempting to hide problems. Don’t do it. First, it might even be illegal depending on your local laws. Many states and localities have disclosure laws that can be painful to violate. They might even allow buyers the chance to come after you after the purchase if you violated them.
Besides being illegal, you’ll probably be found out during an inspection, title search, etc. The process is quite rigorous, especially if a bank is involved. The buyers also have their own attorneys and realtor who know the ropes. By hiding it, all you are likely doing is putting off the hassle. You may be jeopardizing the sale. You will likely still have to pay for that repair you were trying to avoid and now you have a buyer looking over your shoulder. You might have to pay the buyer for the repair and pay them what they think it’s worth. Just be honest.
Know Before Selling Your House
Selling your house is a difficult time. It’s a tough process and we don’t do it often. That means we aren’t going to be good at it. Knowing as much as you can going in can help immensely. You will have a better idea of what to look for and a better idea of what the answers will be.