Fueled by low interest rates and a recovering economy, buyer demand is currently on the rise while the current inventory of available homes remains low! If you’re considering taking advantage of this shift in the market and selling your Columbus / Central Ohio home, there are some common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid as they can significantly negatively impact how long your home is on the market and more importantly for most, how much your home is sold for.
Mistake No.1 – Not Hiring an Agent Although hiring a real estate profession will usually cost you 6% of the sale price of your home, trying to sell your home on your own, especially if you haven’t done it before, is ill advised. Studies show using an average agent should net you about 14.9% more in the final selling price than if you sold For-Sale-By-Owner. Using a good agent should benefit you even more. If you decide to sell on your own, you have a 16% chance of actually selling your home, however, the overwhelming majority of those that are successful in selling on their own are selling directly to a family member or friend. The remaining 84% of For-Sale-By-Owners will either eventually give up and use a Realtor, sell for below market value, or stop trying to sell the home out of frustration.
Your agent will help you determine your home’s market value and assist you in setting an appropriate list price for your home that will increase your odds of a quick sale while allowing you to capture top dollar for your home. An agent can also help take some of the high emotion out of the process by interacting directly with potential buyers so you don’t have to, and eliminating nosey ‘nosey neighbors’ and unqualified buyer who only want to look at your property but have no intention of putting in an offer.
An agent will also have more experience negotiating home sales than you do, helping you get more money than you could on your own. Further, if any problems crop up during the process – and they commonly do – an experienced professional will be there to handle them for you. Finally, agents have a network of professionals including: title companies, inspectors, contractors, etc. who will help save you money. Agents are also familiar with all the paperwork and pitfalls involved in real estate transactions and can help make sure the process goes smoothly.
For those considering selling their home for sale by owner, keep in mind, that the buyer’s agent will expect to be compensated, so you won’t be able to save the entire commission, as you’ll need to pay 3% of the home’s sale price to the buyer’s agent.
Mistake No.2 – Getting Emotionally Involved Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a homeseller rather than as the home’s owner. By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you’ve undoubtedly created many memories in.
Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, they’ll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar.
Mistake No.3 – Setting an Unrealistic Price Whether you’re working with an agent or going it alone, setting the right asking price for your home is key. Remember the comparable market analysis your agent prepared for you when you bought a home to figure out a fair offering price? Buyers shop by comparison and will do the same for your home, so as a seller you should be one step ahead of the game.
Overpriced homes do not sell. Don’t worry too much about setting a price that’s on the low side because, in theory, this will generate multiple offers and bid the price up to the home’s true market value. In fact, underpricing your home a bit is a strategy some agents use to generate extra interest in their listings. Your agent will assist you in determining your home market value and the appropriate pricing strategy for your home.
Mistake No.4 – Expecting To Get Your Asking Price Any smart buyer will negotiate, and if you want to complete the sale, you’ll have to play the game. Most people want to list their homes at a price that will attract buyers while still leaving some room for negotiations. This will allow the buyer to feel like s/he has gained some ground and is getting a good value and allow you to get the amount of money you need from the sale. Your agent can assist you in analyzing recent sales and specifically their list to sales price ratios to determine the appropriate negotiations premium for your area and neighborhood. Of course, whether you end up with more or less than your asking price will likely depend on whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market and on how well you have staged your home.
Mistake No.5 – Selling in Winter (When Your Primary Goal is to Get Top Dollar for Your Home and You Have the Option Not To) Winter, especially around the holidays, is typically a slow time of year for home sales. People are busy with social engagements and the cold weather makes it more appealing to just stay home. Because fewer buyers are likely to be looking, it may take longer to sell your home and you may not get as much money. In the winter there also typically won’t be as many competing sellers however, homeowners who attempt to sell this time or year tend to be those who have urgency and need to sell and thus compete aggressively for buyers by pricing their homes below market value. While winter typically isn’t the time of year to list a home if your goal is to fetch top dollar for your home, it is the ideal time to list if your primary objective is to ensure your home sells. Again the smaller inventory of active listings means less competition which helps sellers get more attention from buyers on their properties. Also, many large corporations often transfer employees or hire new ones early in the year, creating opportunities for winter sellers from very motivated purchasers. While homes that are priced right and show well can sell any time of the year, winter buyers tend to be serious buyers… most people are not window-shopping” in December and January, like they do in the spring months.
Mistake No.6- Skimping on Listing Photos Today’s home buyers are online and now more than ever the home buying process starts with the click of a mouse and can result in the largest purchase of a lifetime. As buyers begin to narrow down the margins of their search, the key enticing element of their initial search will be photos. For a home to sell quickly and for top dollar, it needs to entice as many prospective buyers as possible. For this to happen, the listings must have strong visual appeal. So many homes include poor listing photos that if you do a good job, it will set your listing apart and help generate extra interest. Good photos should be crisp and clear, should be taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light available, and should showcase your home’s best assets. Consider using a wide-angle lens if possible – this will allow you to give potential buyers a better idea of what entire rooms look like – and photo shopping the photos to enhance lighting, color and contrast to really make your home stand out from it’s competition. The Importance of Real Estate Listing Photos
Mistake No.7 – Trying to Hide Significant Problems Not only is it unethical but it’s also illegal to omit known issues from buyers, and any known problem with the property must be disclosed in the residential property disclosure. Existing problems with the home will be uncovered during the buyer’s inspection, so there’s no use trying to hide it. Sellers are encouraged to either fix the problem ahead of time, price the property below market value to account for the problem, or list the property at a normal price but offer the buyer a credit to fix the problem. Realize that if you don’t fix the problem in advance, you may turn away a fair number of buyers who want a turnkey home. Having your home inspected before listing it is a good idea if you want to avoid costly surprises once the home is under contract.
Mistake No.8 – Not Preparing Your Home for Sale Sellers who do not clean and stage their homes are throwing money down the drain. If you can’t afford to hire a professional, that’s OK – there are many things you can do on your own. Failing to do these things will not only reduce your sale price, but may also prevent you from getting a sale at all. For example, if you haven’t attended to minor issues like a broken doorknob, a potential buyer may wonder whether the house has larger, costlier issues that haven’t been addressed. Have a friend or agent with a fresh pair of eyes point out areas of your home that need work – because of your familiarity with the home, you may have become immune to its trouble spots. Decluttering, cleaning thoroughly, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and getting rid of any odors will also help you make a good impression on buyers.
Mistake No.9 – Lingering During Showings: Buyers often feel presssured and uncomfortable discussing the home’s potential in front of the seller. They are also less likely to freely explore the home with the seller hanging around. As the home seller, it’s best to make yourself scarce and let your agent do their job. You can get all the details from your agent when the showing or open house is over.
Mistake No.10 – Not Accommodating Showings If someone wants to view your house, you need to accommodate this person, even if it is inconvenient for you. And yes, you have to clean and declutter the house before every single visit. A buyer won’t know and won’t care if your house was clean last week if it isn’t clean when he or she views it. It’s a lot of work, but stay focused on the prize.
Contact Jason Opland with Better Homes and Gardens Realty at 614.332.6984 or via email, for assistance with any and all of your Columbus and Central OH Real Estate needs, we’re here to serve you.