Not Making Your Last Mortgage Payment Before Closing.
Some sellers don't realize that they must still make every mortgage payment on time even if they have signed a contract to sell their home. When the escrow officer draws up the closing documents, all of the numbers are calculated based on the payments that have been received by the lender. If you haven't made any payments during the four months prior to closing, your lender will calculate the payoff letter based on the last amount you paid and add in the interest and any penalties you owe. For more details, check with your escrow, or title company officer.
Sellers should remember that the difference between the list and sales price is the difference between a dream and reality. But some sellers believe any offer below the list price is an insult. When sellers allow greed to drive the negotiations rather than market forces, it will almost certainly spoil the deal, if not kill it entirely.
Failing to Recognize a Good Offer.
Brokers like to say that a seller's "First offer is best." Many times that's true. But some sellers have trouble recognizing a good offer when they see it. A good offer consists of a financially solid buyer (a buyer who is pre-approved for his or her loan is even better), who is willing to pay a price above your minimum acceptable price, and who will close within a reasonable amount of time. A good offer from a reasonable buyer is a workable offer. You should take this type of offer- and buyer-seriously, and try to make this deal work.
When sellers buy a new home before they have sold their original home, they create a pressurized situation that may force them to accept less for their home than it is worth. In addition, these sellers may need to take out a bridge loan to cover the gap between the sale of their old home and their new home purchase. Instead of jumping the gun, consider waiting until you have received an offer to purchase or there is strong interest in your home before shopping for a new one. In the worst-case scenario, you'll sell before you buy and end up making an interim move. While that may be difficult, it could save you from making an even costlier mistake.
Letting Your House or Your Broker Go Stale.
In a buyer's market-where there are more homes than buyers to purchase them-a house can sit on the market a long time without an offer. If a house is on the market for too long, it can become "stale" in the eyes of brokers and active buyers who comb through the papers and listing sheets each week. To some brokers, a stale home means it can be bought at a discount. Others may perceive that there is something wrong with the house (rather than the market). Rather than letting your home grow stale, consider taking it off the market for a few months, then re-listing it at a lower price. If you broker has grown bored, use the off-list period to interview and hire a new broker to market your property.
Limiting Access to Your Home.
When a buyer wants to see your home, you'd better be prepared to open the door. That means weekdays, evenings, weekends, and sometimes holidays. If a buyer wants to see ten houses on a particular day and yours isn't available, the buyer may choose one of the other nine. Sellers who limit access to their homes may also be sending out a subconscious message that selling isn't a top priority.
Smelly Pets and Odors.
Pet lovers beware: The people who purchase your home may not love pets as much as you do. If fact, they may be allergic. To avoid having your buyers develop a sneezing attack in your foyer, keep your pets away from buyers. The best choices are to keep them outside during showings, or place them in a locked cage. Buyers are also turned off by noxious odors, including the remnants of cigar or cigarette smoke, hospital-like smells, and an overdose of perfume or potpourri.
Hanging Around During the Showings.
There's nothing worse than having the seller breathe down your neck while you're trying to look around his or her house. Buyers are easily distracted during showings. Having you around might make them nervous, and nervous buyers won't ever feel comfortable in your home. A common mistake is that sellers will often talk too much around buyers and buyer brokers. If you're not at the showing, you can't "accidentally" tell the buyer how much you'd be willing to accept for your home. If the home is "for sale by owner," be sure to show the home quickly and professionally, and then let the buyers have some time at the end to walk through the home on their own, without your tagging along. (Put your valuables away!)
Overpricing Your Home.
Price and your home's condition are the two factors you control during the process of selling. While price can be your greatest tool to lure in buyers, too many sellers decide their home is worth a certain amount and refuse to lower the price even when faced with evidence to the contrary. While picking the right price can be difficult, investigating the sales price of homes comparable to yours in your area can help you make the right decision.
Choosing the Wrong Broker or No Broker.
Most homeowners who think they can do a better job selling their home without a professional's help find out later that they're wrong. By that time, unfortunately, they may have wasted a lot of time, money and energy. But choosing the wrong broker can be just as bad a mistake. Not only do you want someone whose personality complements yours, you should pick the broker who can get you the results you need in the time frame you've outlined.
Not Preparing Your Home for Sale.
Yes, you can sell a home that is in less-than-perfect condition. However, don't expect anyone except the bargain hunters to get excited about your chipped paint and peeling wallpaper. If you house needs work, and you're selling it in the condition is in, you may have to price your home under what similar homes in better condition are selling for in your neighborhood. Otherwise, you may wait a long time for a buyer who recognized the potential and is willing to pay for it. A better idea is to spend some time to thoroughly clean-and clean out-your home. Invest in a couple of cans of paint. Improve your curb appeal. Make your home look as good as possible both inside and out. (Ask Russell about the videos he has available for you to borrow. Preparing Your Home For Sale by David Knox is particularly helpful!)
Are you selling because you want to or because you have to? The honest answer to this question will directly affect every part of your home sale: when you list your home, how you price it, and even which broker you choose. Sometimes a couple will be split on whether or not to actually sell the home. This can lead to mixed messages during the pricing and negotiation phases of selling, which can confuse the brokers and potential buyers. Are you simply trying to test the waters: Sellers who have overvalued their homes and refuse to lower the price may be wasting everyone's time.
And the most common mistake made by home sellers...
Not Choosing an experienced, hard-working, ethical RealtorŪ to help you through the process!