7 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home
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Do you remember the vast array of emotions you experienced when you bought your home? Well, when it comes time to sell, you’ll experience them all over again. There are plenty of steps you can take to sell your home as smoothly and quickly as possible, and for the right price. Make sure you do lots of research, talk to professionals and be mindful of the following pitfalls before posting a For Sale sign on your lawn.
- Do lots of research, talk to professionals and be mindful of these common pitfalls before posting a For Sale sign on your lawn
- Think of the sale as a necessary financial transaction and don’t get too hung up on the emotional aspect, as this could cloud your judgement and prevent you from making important decisions
- No matter how much you feel your home is worth, the market will be the deciding factor in terms of how much you can expect to receive
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Getting too emotionally invested
Your home is your sanctuary and represents so much more than four walls and a roof over your head. Over the years, you’ve likely created lots of great memories, made new friends, experienced life-altering moments and faced unavoidable challenges. If home is truly where the heart is, it’s not surprising that, when the time comes to leave, it can be very emotional.
Realistically, you weren’t going to live in your current house forever. You may have decided to upgrade to a larger home, maybe you have to relocate because of a new job, or perhaps you need to move away because of a major life change. Whatever the circumstances, the sale of your home can be bittersweet, but it can also represent something more positive. Think of the journey as the next chapter and a new beginning rather than a painful goodbye.
Keep yourself busy by focusing on the task at hand. Selling your home is a significant undertaking with many steps involved such as preparing and listing the home; making necessary repairs; finding a buyer; navigating the closing process; and finally arranging the physical move. Think of the sale as a necessary financial transaction and don’t get too hung up on the emotional aspect, as this could cloud your judgment and prevent you from making important decisions.
Don’t lose sleep over anything you may leave behind such as window coverings or light fixtures if prospective buyers have asked them to be included in the purchase. Unless they have significant sentimental value, it’s okay to leave them as you don’t want to jeopardize the sale over material items. And remember, while your memories were created within the home, they’ll stay with you forever even as you begin to create new ones.
Working with the wrong agent
Finding the right real estate agent to help you sell is critical. You may want to use the same person who helped you buy your home, but some agents are more suited to work with buyers than sellers, so it’s always a good idea to interview multiple agents to determine what they can offer.
It’s also essential to ensure that your agent has your best interests at heart. Ask for credentials and references, and ensure they know your neighbourhood and are comfortable selling a home in your price point. Ask them to walk you through their marketing plan, how often they’ll communicate with you and the efforts they’ll undertake to ensure your house sells. Ask about other listings they currently have that may compete with yours. You don’t want them to take potential buyers away from you because they’re trying to sell another house down the street. If they can’t provide you with what you need, find someone else.
Tip: Ask every real estate agent for credentials and references, and ensure they know your neighbourhood and are comfortable selling a home in your price point.
As a seller, you’re responsible for paying both buyer and seller commissions, which can be significant, so ask if there’s any flexibility. An agent stands to make a decent amount of money and will want the listing, so there’s no harm in trying to negotiate their commission. If they outright refuse, find someone else.
Tip: As a seller, you’re responsible for paying both buyer and seller commissions, which can be significant, so ask if there’s any flexibility.
It takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work to sell a home for the price you want. A reputable agent will be able to ensure the sales process runs as smoothly as possible and will walk you through every step with confidence. If this isn’t the case, find someone else. You don’t need the added stress of working with an unqualified agent and potentially having your house sit on the market due to incompatibility or incompetence.
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Pricing your home too high
It’s natural to want to get the highest price possible for your home, but it’s also important to be realistic. The price you want and the price the market is willing to pay may not be the same. No matter how much you feel your home is worth, the market will be the deciding factor in terms of how much you can expect to receive. Don’t scare off potential buyers with an overpriced listing.
Important: If your home is priced too high, it could remain on the market for a long time and become stale. You may then be faced with having to drop the price, which is unappealing to prospective buyers as they’ll assume something is wrong.
If your home is priced too high, it could remain on the market for a long time and become stale. You may then be faced with having to drop the price, which is unappealing to prospective buyers as they’ll assume something is wrong. An overpriced home is a turn-off and you could waste weeks or even months waiting for a potential buyer. This could feel like an eternity and cause added stress, especially if you’re using the funds from the sale of one house to buy another.
Your real estate agent can help you establish the price by looking at comparable properties in your neighbourhood that recently sold and offering their knowledge of the current housing market. Together, you’ll determine a price you’re comfortable with that will entice buyers.
Expecting the asking price
Don’t let your ego get in the way of selling your home. While it’s natural to want to receive as much as you can get, you have to be flexible. If you only consider full asking price offers, you may never receive any and, in the meantime, you could have turned away potential buyers.
Important: There are buyers who may offer less money, but who also have fewer conditions. This makes their offer more appealing versus a buyer with a higher offer and a long list of conditions or contingencies.
The asking price you agreed upon with your real estate agent should allow for a bit of wiggle room for negotiations as most buyers won’t come in with a full-price offer. Don’t be offended by a lower offer and don’t take it personally. This is a business transaction, nothing more. If you don’t like the offer, you have the opportunity to counter-sign. There are also buyers who may offer less money, but who also have fewer conditions. This makes their offer more appealing versus a buyer with a higher offer and a long list of conditions or contingencies.
Tip: Don’t let your ego get in the way of selling your home. While it’s natural to want to receive as much as you can get, you have to be flexible.
Selling during winter months
While selling your home in the winter is not completely out of the question, spring is typically the hottest time of year for real estate. Traditionally, house hunters like to head out when the sun is shining, temperatures are warm and flowers are blooming. Homebuyer interest wanes in the winter months as people are content to just stay home. They don’t want to look at homes in the dark when it’s cold and curb appeal is virtually non-existent.
As a winter seller, you have to constantly ensure that driveways and walkways are clear of snow and ice. And potential buyers? They’re faced with the daunting prospect of bundling up, donning their boots and heavy coats, and potentially travelling in perilous conditions.
During the winter, many buyers have added expenses, especially around the holidays and into the new year when they have higher bills to pay or travel south to avoid the cold and snow. If you’re fortunate to find a buyer, you may discover that they’ll drive a harder bargain in terms of price knowing full well that fewer buyers results in fewer offers.
Not carrying proper insurance
When you bought your home, your lender may have insisted that you carry homeowner insurance to protect against losses and damages to your house and the assets within. Home insurance policies typically cover interior and exterior damage, loss or damage of personal assets and injury that arises while on the property.
It’s critical, therefore, not to cancel your homeowner insurance or transfer it from your old house to your new one before the sale closes. This will ensure that your belongings continue to be covered during the closing period even if you’ve moved out. Should something unforeseen happen such as theft, an accident or fire, you’re still responsible as the legal homeowner. Even after you move out, as long as the home is in your name, you want to maintain the insurance. Once the closing is complete, contact your insurer to let them know you no longer own the house.
Selling to unqualified buyers
In order to avoid wasting precious time, you’ll want to show your home to qualified buyers. A qualified buyer has already been preapproved for a mortgage for a certain amount of money. This means they’ll generally not experience any issues when obtaining the final loan. You should always ask for a copy of the preapproval letter they received from their lender, which will also indicate the preapproval period. A preapproval doesn’t guarantee that the buyer will be granted the loan, but it does represent a conditional commitment by their lender to grant them a specific amount, which should provide you with some peace of mind. See: 6 Things You Need to be Preapproved for a Mortgage
Tip: Avoid wasting precious time by showing your home to qualified buyers who have already been preapproved for a mortgage.
If you don’t work with a qualified buyer, you risk them making an offer and wondering whether they’ll receive funding. As an unqualified buyer begins the loan process, you’ll be stuck waiting for their approval, which could take some time. Or worse, you may find out weeks or months later that the buyer isn’t able to obtain the necessary loan and you’re back to square one, having wasted time, energy and missed opportunities of showing the house to serious buyers.
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