The top mistakes sellers make

In my last post, I explained the top mistakes homebuyers often make. Sellers, this time it’s your turn. Here are the top four missteps I’ve seen lots of sellers make—much to their regret.

Mistake no. 1: Not taking your first buyer seriously

Ninety percent of the time, your first offer is your best offer. I’ve seen this happen time and again. Generally speaking, the potential buyer who makes the first offer is highly motivated and ready to do business. The first offer might be lower than you’d like, but that’s what negotiations are for.

You can hold off in hopes of better offers. But I’ve seen properties sit on the market too long, growing ‘stale,’ because the seller didn’t trust the first offer or two. Three months later, the seller ends up taking something like $50,000 less than the first offer they received.

Mistake no. 2: Offering buyers credits for work you’d rather not do

Do your back steps have dry rot? Are your interior walls crying out for a fresh coat of paint? Then invest the time and money needed to make your home as spotless and problem-free as possiblebefore you put it on the market.

Remember: Buyers are busy, too. Most of the time, they’re not going to want to deal with the repairs or freshening up your home requires. Plus, they’ll  see these as faults to the property and will offer less.

So instead of offering credits against the purchase price, invest some money up front and get the work done yourself. Your home will sell faster. And most likely, you’ll get your money back, and then some, in the form of a higher price.

Unless you make mistake no. 3, that is.

Mistake no. 3: Making highly personal changes to your home

Recently, a client of mine started to add a shiny sealant to his concrete garage floor. Why? Because he’d always wanted a clean garage floor. And yet, he was about to put his house on the market.

I advised him to skip the shiny sealant, as the vast majority of potential buyers aren’t going to be swayed either way by a sparkling garage floor. His time and money would be better spent on new light fixtures or other improvements.

So think carefully about any home project before selling. And remember: Most buyers expect to make their own personalization changes to a new home. Don’t try to do it for them.

Mistake no. 4: Overpricing your house

When you price your home too high, you’re not fooling anyone. Informed buyers know the comps in your neighborhood. And if they don’t, you can bet their Realtor does.

So when you ask for too much money, your home will most likely sit on the market longer, particularly in this economy. The longer it sits, the staler it becomes. And then you end up having to reduce the price—sometimes more than once.

On the other hand, let’s say you’ve priced your home just right from the beginning. Chances are, you’ll end up selling it for more than what you’d have gotten if you’d priced it too high and then had to drop the price several times. Plus, you’ll have saved yourself time and aggravation, too.

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