5 Mistakes That Cost Your Seller Money

When selling a home, your client always wants to make as much money as possible, right? Who wouldn’t?! This is why it always surprises me when I see a seller make a hasty decision that I know will cost them in the long run. Unfortunately, these lapses in judgment can happen to anyone – so to help you and your clients avoid these problems from the get-go, I’ve put together a list of 5 simple mistakes that your client should avoid when selling their home.

1. Overpricing your home

This is the most costly mistake, cited by 43 percent of surveyed agents. “If you price it too high, it will just sit on the market, agents will stop showing it, and buyers will assume there’s something wrong with it,” says Jeanette Cook, a real estate agent in Burlingame Hills, Calif., a suburb of San Francisco. “You may have to drop the price far below what you think it’s worth just to entice people to look at it again.” A good agent will show sellers the sale price for at least five similar homes nearby that sold in the past two months.

2. Overpaying the commission

Unless your agent is a close relative or friend, he or she will charge a commission, or percentage of the sale price, and may even lead you to believe that the fee is inflexible. But, in fact, 63 percent of the real estate agents in our survey admitted that they negotiate their fees at least half of the time. And despite the widely held belief that 6 percent is the standard broker’s commission, almost half of the agents we surveyed typically charge just 4 percent or less.

3. Hiring the first agent you meet

Selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions most people make, so you need to have someone you trust. Ask friends and family for recommendations and meet with at least three candidates. You can often find an agent’s state license number on his or her site, or you can ask for it. Then do a Google search for “(name-of-your-state) real estate licensing division.” Some state real estate licensing divisions will disclose complaints that have been filed or whether a license has been temporarily suspended. And see whether an agent you want to hire is a member of the National Association of Realtors; members are supposed to adhere to a strict code of ethics. Check references from at least three recent clients. (Related: Don’t let a real estate agent’s bad behavior cost you money.)

4. Neglecting to do a Google search for your address

Make sure nothing negative comes up, such as an old lawsuit or public records that have inaccurate information about your home’s number of bedrooms, say. Also check your home’s street view on Google Maps. If it fails to show improvements you’ve made, make sure your broker addresses that in the listing.

5. Putting your home on the market before it’s ready

Don’t put the “for sale” sign on your lawn until it’s show time, says DeSimone. With 92 percent of home buyers using the Internet as part of their search, according to the National Association of Realtors, photos are key. “You wouldn’t put a picture of yourself wearing a bathrobe on Match.com,” he says. “Your agent should arrange for a professional photographer to take shots of every room and your yard.”

Do you have any tips we’ve missed? Have your clients ever made these mistakes? What are your thoughts?

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  • The_Grass_Is_Greener

    I agree that sellers should see at least five different homes that have recently been sold to come up with a reasonable price for that area, and even then there are many aspects factoring into a home’s price can be hard to identify to the untrained eye. I’ve always told my sellers to price realistically using examples of similar homes in the area, but there will always be issues when consumers rely on “zestimates”. Great tips! I will make sure to pass this on to my clients.