Supply is low and demand is high, which means Spring 2016 is going to be a seller's market. This, however, does not mean sellers should throw together a quick listing, kick up there heels and wait for the offers to roll in. No matter the dynamic of the housing market, there are vital measures sellers must take to ensure their homes not only sell but also that they sell at the highest possible price.
According to Forbes contributor Trulia, sellers generally make up to three mistakes during a sale that end up costing them money. Many of these mistakes are unnecessary and only happen because the seller is not aware of how they can affect the sale of the home. Here are a few to avoid:
1. Starting with an asking price that's too high
It may seem like a good idea to test the market and see if anyone is willing to pay more for your home than it is really worth. If no one bites, you can always lower the price, right? What do you have to lose?
As it turns out, you have a lot to lose. Overpricing a home is one of the worst mistakes a seller can make. In a survey by online real estate community Active Rain, real estate agents were asked to list the top three mistakes home sellers make, and 77 percent of them listed overpricing.
Asking for too much for your home will, not surprisingly, make buyers less enthusiastic about putting in an offer. Remember that they have done their research, and they know what a home like yours is worth.
The first 30 days on the market is an integral period. If your home hasn't sold after that long, buyers become suspicious something might be wrong with it. By then, even if you have reduced the price, your home will be harder to sell. Sellers who initially overprice their home end up selling it for less than they would have if they priced it right the first time.
2. Not disclosing or repairing issues with the home
Trying to hide a known issue from a buyer is useless. It will be discovered during their home inspection anyway, and by then you will have lost credibility for failing to disclose the information and thus will have less negotiation leverage. You will probably end up having to factor the cost of repairs into the a new price for the home - and buyers almost always overestimate these costs.
If you are transparent with buyers from the start, you can work together to figure out how to address issues rather than having them come up at the last minute, delaying closing and costing everybody time and money.
Realtor.com said a pre-listing inspection is the best way to avoid last minute negotiations and to prevent the deal from falling through. A pre-listing inspection, paid for by the seller before the house is listed, allows the seller to decide in advance how to deal with issues present in the home. He or she can either have them repaired before selling or else factor in the costs of repairs to the original asking price and explain to buyers that the issues have been accounted for. Either way, a pre-listing inspection keeps the seller from losing the upper hand.
3. Not using a real estate agent
Trulia explained in Forbes that sellers who attempt to brave the market without an agent take longer to sell their homes and sell their homes for less money than those who do work with a professional. Home buying and selling is incredibly complicated, and you want an expert there to advocate for your needs and guide you to making the best decisions.
4. Not spending time to stage your home for showings
Home staging makes more of a difference than you might think. In the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 81 percent of realtors who work with buyers said they think staging is important in helping buyers visualize themselves living in the home. Staging a home properly can even lead to a 1 to 5 percent increase in a buyer's offer. According to the report, the top five most important rooms to stage, in order of significance, are the living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room and bathroom.
5. Being too rigid
You have poured your heart and soul into this home, and from your perspective it is impossible to understand why a buyer does not see as much value in it as you do. Don't dig your heels in the sand and refuse to negotiate.
The Cheat Sheet, an online modern lifestyle publication, said many sellers allow their emotions to get in the way when they are trying to sell their home, and it is important to step back and think logically so you don't end up ruining a deal. You will need to be open to agreeing to a marginally lower asking price, among other common deal-making tactics such as helping pay for closing costs.
6. Not working hard enough on the listing, itself
In Forbes, Trulia said that 90 percent of buyers begin their home search online. If you do not have beautiful, crisp photographs of a nicely staged home to accompany your listing, buyers will likely not be enticed to come see it. Spend time and effort on getting the best possible pictures you can.
In addition, the words you use in your listing matter. Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, spoke with Time about the need for sellers to avoid vague, meaningless words like "unique" and "cute." Instead, be specific. Focus on your home's actual features and think about how to play on a buyer's emotions to entice them to come look at your home.
So much of selling a home is an art. There is not always a distinct right and wrong way to do things, but avoiding these pitfalls should help your home sell faster and at a better price.