Selling by owner is challenging enough on it’s own. To ensure the best chances for success, there are 10 things I would recommend you avoid.
- Upwards Price Adjustments. It’s okay to change your mind before you set your price and put your home on the market, just not after. There’s nothing worse than a seller raising the price after buyers have already seen it. It sends a mixed message and buyers may perceive the seller (you) as greedy and wishy washy. When you are priced right, you should have plenty of inquiries and interests. Don’t take this for being priced too low.
- Overpricing. Finding the right starting price is critical out of the starting gate. Not doing your homework to arrive at the right price could be one of the biggest mistakes you can make…and it can be avoided. I wrote a detailed article on pricing (how to find the right price and methods you can use). See “Free Report” on this site for more info.
- Never rule out buyer’s agents. It’s understandable you’re trying to sell your home on your own and don’t think you need an agent’s help. Ignoring buyers’ agents (those representing the buyer) could be futile as they are the gate keepers to 90% of the buyers currently looking for homes. If you market your property well like you should, you can expect a list of agents to call. Some will be looking for a listing but others will actually have a buyer for your property if you’re open to working with them. Yes you’ll need to pony up a selling commission (usually 2-3%) of the sales price but you will have saved yourself half of what you would have paid if you listed plus they will bring in the paperwork and handle everything from start to finish.
- Being present during showings. I’m not talking about letting some strangers walk through your home alone. If you happen to work with a buyer’s agent as discussed in the previous point, let the agent walk through the home with the buyer without you tagging along. When I’m working as a buyer’s agent and showing a home, having the seller follow me through every room is one of my biggest pet peeves. My buyer and I don’t feel like we can have an honest conversation about the house with the seller listening to our every word and usually my buyer will not ask to return for a second walk through. If you’re worried about someone with sticky fingers snatching something just remove valuables from view before showings. Problem solved.
- Emotional Attachment. Don’t be so attached to your taste that it keeps you from seeing the bigger picture: You’re trying to sell and move to your next home. Keeping things or even making them more neutral (paint for example) will appeal to the broader audience. Emotional attachments to certain items in your home (new fridge, garage work bench, misc furniture) not physically attached (can be removed/not part of house) can also be hard to part with. That said, anything is fair game for the buyer and undoubtedly they may ask/expect something be included with the sale of the home. Now I’m not advocating you agree to all the demands of the buyer but you should certainly be open to the possibility that you may need to give up something you hadn’t previously considered especially if that item is fairly inexpensive to replace and will result in a sale.
- Giving up your negotiation position. Your listing agent wouldn’t disclose your business (why your moving etc) to the buyers so why would you? It’s understandable you would be friendly and talkative to the buyers you are dealing with directly but disclosing certain things can really hurt your negotiation position. There is absolutely no reason they need to know your true reason for selling which may include things such as can’t afford house, death in family, being transferred suddenly,etc. I’m not saying you need to be dishonest and flat out lie (which could come back on you later) but don’t offer something that is not even asked for. Most buyers will not even ask why you are moving and should they “looking for something bigger/smaller” will usually end the discussion and ensure they don’t see you as a desperate seller.
- Pet odors. There’s not much more that will turn a buyer off than entering a home that smells like wet dog or cat urine. While that may be a bit of a stretch, if you have animals that live inside as many do, by now you have grown accustomed to them and probably don’t think your home smells any different (maybe it doesn’t). The best thing to do is ask a friend or family member to walk through your home and give you their HONEST opinion, one thing being the smell. No one wants to admit their home smells but being honest about it and getting another opinion to ensure it doesn’t will ensure it’s not an issue that is going to derail your sale. Don’t just add air freshners to mask the scent. One air freshner is alright. One in every room says you’re trying to hide something.
- Missed inquiries. If possible, try to ensure to take all phone calls when your home is on the market. While you may think an interested buyer would certainly leave a message, that’s not always the case and you could be potentially losing out on a qualified buyer. If you’re not able to take phone calls at work, set up a new greeting with a brief explanation with the terms of your home (bed/bath, sq ft, Price, etc) and hopefully they’ll leave a message. You can also set up a free Google voice number and have the calls forwarded to another party who may be able to take the call during the hours you can’t.
- Overly Anxious. Don’t I repeat Don’t carry the contract in hand when meeting the buyer for the 1st time. Your first meeting should basically be an open discussion where you gauge their interest and hopefully set another appointment for them to either see the house again or formally write up the offer. The last thing you want to do is appear overly motivated or in a rush to get things rolling. So play it cool or risk a low ball offer in light of your presumed motivation and or worse…scaring the buyer off all together.
- Not getting feedback. Make sure to ask for feedback every single time you show your home. You will not necessarily ask for it face to face since the buyer may be obliged only to tell you the things they liked. Instead, make sure to get their contact information if possible (email is best) and follow up with them a few days later if you sense they will not be making an offer. Not only will they help you identify something you may need to fix (pink carpet, etc) if you keep getting the same feedback, but if price happened to be the issue, you can be sure to send them price adjustments you make during the marketing period.
There you have it. The top 10 things as I see it that you can and should avoid when selling your home by owner.
I would love to get your comments or stories of lessons learned while selling yourself and as always please feel free to share by using the links right below this posts.
To your success,