Don't Shoot Yourself In The Foot When Selling A Home

Every day I look at the new listings coming onto the market, and I am amazed at the mistakes being made by many home sellers.

Too often, their initial marketing ensures that they will likely fail to sell their home on their first attempt or worse ... they will sell their home for less than they could have received.

While I have written scores of articles on how to sell a home, today's will be written for the home seller just getting started who would like to avoid shooting himself in the foot from the start.

Home Sellers: Don't Shoot Yourself In The Foot!

Don't Shoot Yourself In The Foot When Selling A HomeAll of the mistakes I see are rooted in the fact that the majority of home sellers fail to understand modern home selling techniques.

The facts are very clear ... the internet has changed the way we sell a home today, and those that fail to prepare for an internet marketing plan to sell a home will leave money on the table, if they sell their home at all.

Preparation for selling a home can be done with a computer and a web browser. Since that is how 94% of homebuyers are going to be searching for a home to buy, you might as well walk a mile in their shoes before hitting the market.

The following list of mistakes (and what you should do differently) is just some of what I have seen from home sellers who have recently entered (or re-entered) the Tallahassee real estate market.

Shooting Yourself In The Foot (Home Seller Style)

Hiring A Friend Without Competitive Interviewing - Hands down, bar none, this is the easiest way to shoot yourself in the foot when selling a home. Many home sellers think that all agents and all real estate companies are alike, so they just hire their buddy. In fact, an NAR survey showed that 64% of home sellers surveyed hired the first agent with whom they spoke about selling their home. It's not a surprise that so many home sellers fail during their first listing period (you really don't need to fail the first time!).

Interviewing Agents In Your Home - If you interview a few agents, all inside your home, you'll end up hiring the best salesperson. Somebody with great selling skills will hone in on your emotional connection to your home, and get you excited about an outcome (rather than the process used to get you top dollar for your home). Sellers should understand that their home is a castle (when they own it), but it is an unnecessary asset (commodity) when they want to sell it. Think of it this way: Your home is a home when you own it, but simply a house when you want to get rid of it. Take the time to meet with the agents that you interview at their office. Get away from the emotional ties to your home so that you can go about selecting the right company to sell your house.

Hiring An Agent Based Upon What They Say Your Home Is Worth - This is the trap in which many ill-prepared home sellers fall. They meet an agent and tell the agent what they want for their home and the agent acquiesces. No thought regarding supply and demand is pursued, the seller just assumes the agent will get it done. Rarely does this work out to the benefit of the seller. Take the time to learn how Realtors determine the market value of a home, and then make sure you are comfortable that your agent has scrutinized the market to give you the information that you need to price your home correctly. Don't rely on a zestimate, because Zillow won't be buying your home. It is a neat little algorythm that is useful for buyers starting the homebuying process, but it is not what they will rely upon when they are serious about making a purchase.

Hiring An Agent Who Has Failed You Before - This should go without saying, but I see it all the time. A home fails to sell during the first listing period, and the seller relists with the same agent. If they did not succeed the first time, doesn't it make sense to interview other agents to see what they would do differently? At a very minimum, have the agent and his/her broker sit down with you and explain what they will do differently if you list with them again. Unless you are at the very top of the housing market (value wise) and there is limited liquidity, you should be able to sell your home in 4 to 14 days.

Padding Your Asking Price With A Margin For Negotiation - This technique made sense before the internet. There was no central source of information on home sales, so there was a lot of give and take between what two different parties thought a home was worth. But not any longer. We track 100% of homes sold in Tallahassee, and we know what they are worth. More importantly, we know which way the market is trending in all quadrants of the Tallahassee real estate market. By studying liquidity at your price point, we can tell you the liklihood of a home selling at various price points over the next several months. By adding more money to your asking price than what it is worth, you end up showing your house (on the internet) to buyers looking for a nicer home. And guess what. They always choose the nicer home! Remove the margin for negotiation, make sure your price is ultra competitive, and the advantage in the negotiation moves to your side of the table.

Putting Your Home On The Market Before You Are Ready To Sell - If you have thoughts like "if somebody will pay me $345,000 today, I'd sell in an instant". They won't! Get the thought out of your head that some wealthy and stupid person will pay you more than your home is worth. There are plenty of stupid people in the world, and there are plenty of rich people as well. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find somebody that possesses both attributes who also wants to buy your home. It just doesn't happen often enough to rely on it. The number of stupid people are limited in a buyer's market.

Failing To Understand The Importance Of "Picture Day" - Before the internet, we told home sellers to keep their house as clean and orderly as possible in case it would be shown. At a bare minimum, we told them it was critical that the foyer was always spotless so that people who have a great first impression and would then continue to view the home. But times have changed. The foyer has been replaced by the exterior photo of the home. It is this one singular picture that will likely determine whether or not people will continue to see the rest of the home online. The supporting images must communicate the value that you are asking for your home. Great pictures mean more offline visits. More offline visits will equate to buyer-competition for your home, which will help you get the most amount of money for your home. Make sure you hire the real estate company that goes all-out to promote your home with the best pictures and video available.

Raising Your Asking Price When There Is No Interest At The Current Price - I recently saw a home come back on the market that has been on and off the market since early 2013. The asking price is now higher than the previous price at which no buyer wanted it. I shudder to think that a real estate professional gave the advice to do this. This is a bizarre marketing trick used by some agents. They will tell you that it will expose the home to a whole new set of buyers (you know, the ones that want a home that is nicer than yours). They'll tell you it will give it a "fresh" restart in the market (again, by letting your home be the setup house for the competition). Don't do this. The market has spoken ... at your previous price, and it was too high!

Prepare For Success When Selling A Home

If you can avoid the pitfalls identified above, you will be well on your way to a successful home selling experience. Remember, a progressive internet marketing plan for your home, combined with the right initial asking price, will likely yield a home sale within the first few weeks. If it takes any longer than that, you will lose your greatest leverage for getting top dollar for your home (the fear of loss that ready buyers will feel when you first hit the market correctly).

If you would like to know more about selling a home in Tallahassee, just drop me a note and we'll schedule a time (at our office) to help you prepare to sell your house without shooting yourself in the foot.

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