7 Mistakes to Avoid as a First-Time Home Seller

As a first-time seller, you’re prepared to make some mistakes. You’ve been warned of the challenges and risks that come with the decision to sell your house yourself — and you’re excited about it anyway.

Staking the for sale by owner (FSBO) sign in your front lawn takes courage. Once you’re serious about selling, it’s time to check your perspective and chart your goals. In many areas across the country, home prices are rising and an increasing amount of homes being sold. While that doesn’t guarantee you’ll sell quickly or get exactly what you want for your home you can boost your chances for success in a robust market.

There’s plenty of how-to for selling your home. Of equal importance, is how not to sell your home. Here’s a list of mistakes to avoid in preparation for one of the most important real estate transactions you’ll ever make.

Being emotional

You must be mentally prepared to say goodbye to the house. The greatest joy of home ownership is usually the memories made while living there. Extracting yourself from those experiences can be unexpectedly difficult. Being emotionally attached is one of the most common mistakes and if you don’t deal you’re your attachment before deciding to sell- its consequences can be the most crippling.

Assuming your house will sell

This is another mistake that can be avoided before deciding to sell. Get real with the odds and come to terms with the fact that less than 10% of FSBO homes actually end up selling. Hiring a realtor can set you back thousands, but it may be the right choice for gaining a competitive edge. It’s also a mistake to assume your buyer. Just because young buyers are interested in other houses on the block doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in your house. Don’t underestimate your options for selling direct to investors that buy houses for cash or other alternatives.

Setting an unrealistic price

Determining the right asking price is crucial. When you bought the home, you had a set of expectations for a fair offering price. Now that you’re the seller you need to be a step ahead of buyers’ expectations. Most first-time home sellers make the mistake of pricing too high. In today’s market, savvy buyers aren’t biting on overpriced homes. Underpricing is a realistic strategy with the goal of capturing extra interest, generating more bids and driving the price higher.

Not showcasing or staging your home at its best

Don’t make the mistake of not cleaning between showings. If you’re inhabiting the house you’re selling, you need to beautify it before every visit from a potential buyer. Inexperienced sellers often shun the opportunity to stage their home which is a big mistake. Staging is about highlighting the best features of a house in a non-personalized way. Don’t assume it must involve hiring expensive professionals to rearrange your furniture.

Not negotiating home inspection issues

You don’t have to mention the water damage 10 years ago, but you do have to be up front about the home inspection. Many buyers make demands after inspection involving repairs or fixes and up to you to honor or deny their requests. Either fix the problem or adjust the price to account for it. Getting defensive and refusing to negotiate is a big mistake. Address their concerns and put yourself in their shoes. You wouldn’t buy a house with bad wiring that could start a fire. Why should they?

Not marketing effectively

Open houses, virtual tours, print ads and social media are some of the many ways you can creatively advertise and sell your home yourself. Be sure to list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to ensure greater online exposure. Don’t eschew investing in hi-res photography. Bad photos of your property are missed opportunities as online users will click on the most visually stunning listings. Another mistake is failing to draw attention to your home’s location. Potential buyers are shopping for desirable neighborhoods and good schools as much as they are shopping for a new home. Mention these assets in your online listings to appeal to out-of-towners.

Not having a Plan B

You can stay ahead of every mistake ever made in the history of house selling and still fall short of your goals. Consider inserting clauses into your contract stating the intent to sell only if you’re able to purchase a new home for yourself. If there are multiple offers on the table, be prepared to accept backup offers that bind the sale to a second buyer if the first one backs out.

There are no guarantees for selling your house fast or at all. Be practical and have a contingency plan in place to avoid situations like paying two mortgages, being homeless, or having no financial cushion to fall back on when you don’t seal the deal.

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