Selling your house is a huge undertaking.
There are many factors to consider at each stage, from the moment you decide to move until the day you close on the sale and hand over the keys.
If you’re in a hurry to sell, you’ll need to look out for some commonplace obstacles that could slow your progress.
Here are 5 mistakes that sellers frequently make. If you can avoid falling into these traps, you’ll be able to successfully sell your home on a short timeline.
Table of Contents:
1. Going it Alone
Hiring a real estate agent is a no-brainer for buyers; they get all the help, while the seller pays the commission—usually five to six percent of the sale price, divided between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.
When you’re selling, though, you might wonder whether you really need an agent. After all, you could net thousands of dollars more from the sale if you don’t have to pay that commission.
If you’re looking for a quick, smooth sale, though, an agent may be well worth the price.
Not only do real estate agents have the ability to list properties on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but they also have networks of other agents and clients, and they can tap into those networks in search of buyers.
A good agent should handle all of the details and paperwork for your real estate transaction, so you don’t miss any steps. Your agent should also have good advice about what buyers are looking for in your market, as well as plenty of experience handling the offer stage and negotiating for the best sale price.
If you need to move out of your home as fast as possible, without taking months to fix up your house, there are options beyond the traditional approach. For example, third party companies like Sundae offer ways to sell your house outside the market.
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2. Not Preparing the Home
Clean and well-maintained homes attract more potential buyers, so don’t skip the minor repairs and renovations that could make your home more appealing.
Small repairs on leaky faucets and broken windows will prevent buyers from perceiving the home as run-down. These are only minor problems, but failing to fix them could reduce the price you can get for your house.
See to it that your house is thoroughly cleaned, decluttered, well-decorated, and well-lit to make an excellent impression on your potential buyers.
Most importantly, clear out as much as you can. Crowded rooms and storage areas make the home appear smaller, and your belongings may distract the buyers and make it harder for them to see themselves living there.
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3. Setting the Wrong Price
Hitting the right price for your home can be tricky, and overpricing your home is one of the biggest mistakes a seller can make.
Setting the price too high can keep buyers away. If they’re looking for a home like yours, they’ll find other options at a better price. If their budget matches your listing price, on the other hand, they’ll find larger and higher-quality homes for their money.
A home that is priced too high will sit on the market and draw little interest.
Setting the price too low, on the other hand, will help your house sell quickly (as long as buyers don’t suspect there’s something wrong) but you’ll risk missing out on a significant amount of profit.
To determine the value of your house, you can compare it to homes that are similar in size and features that have sold recently in or near your neighborhood. A list of these comparable sales is called a “comparative market analysis” or (CMA), and it can give useful insight into the local housing market.
Your real estate agent should be able to provide this analysis; it’s used often in the industry. If you don’t have an agent, you can use public records to find the selling dates and prices of homes in your area.
A properly priced home has the best chance of selling quickly without leaving money on the table.
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4. Ignoring Major Problems
Astute buyers will closely examine the house to ensure that it is in good shape before they make an offer. Leaks, pests, and a damaged foundation are a few of the problems buyers could find during a showing. Any of these issues could cause buyers to decide the house isn’t right for them.
Even if the buyers don’t spot any issues and decide to make an offer—and you accept—the next step will be a professional inspection. Most buyers will try to make the sale contingent on the results of that home inspection, giving them a way to back out. If you lose your buyers, you’ll be back to the beginning.
If time is a critical factor in your home sale you can pay out-of-pocket for an inspection—even before buyers see the home. If there are major issues, you can have them repaired right away. If there are easy-to-fix items, you can fix them yourself.
Regardless of any follow-up, make the inspection report available to buyers, along with receipts or documentation of any repairs that have been done. Not only will this give buyers confidence in the condition of the home, but it may convince them not to make the sale contingent on a new inspection—and that could save you precious time.
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5. Accepting the Wrong Offer
All the hard work is done, and now you have your first offer. What will you do?
If the offer price is fair, you could go ahead and accept it—but you might not want to. There are a few factors to consider.
First, of course, it is standard practice for buyers and sellers to negotiate the sale price of a home. Unless you’re told otherwise, the buyer’s first offer is probably not their best and final offer. In most cases you should make at least one counteroffer.
Second, you need to consider the terms and contingencies in the offer. These can have huge effects on your timeline.
We’ve already discussed the inspection contingency; if you’ve done your due diligence ahead of time you should be able to avoid this contingency or at least have no big surprise when the new inspection is done.
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Another common contingency is the ability to secure financing. If your buyers have a financing condition, ensure that they are at least preapproved for a loan. Better yet, they should be prequalified—a higher standard—and their lender can issue a letter to you indicating that they are approved up to the amount of the offer (or higher).
If they have neither, you may wish to decline the offer and hope a better one comes along.
Another way to handle this situation is to make a counteroffer that includes a “bump clause.” A bump clause indicates that the offer is still on the table, but it can be “bumped” out of line by another, better offer you might receive.
The other contingency that frequently causes delays is the sale of the buyer’s current home. If you’re trying to sell quickly, this contingency should be a red flag. That’s because you have no control over when the buyer’s home will sell. Depending on the market and the home’s condition, it could be days or months.
As with the financing clause, you may wish to decline or add a bump clause. Don’t forget that you can also remove the contingency in your counteroffer to see if they will accept the additional risk.
Finally, keep in mind that you can negotiate timing in the offer and acceptance. You can set a close date that is earlier than normal (though you’ll need to work with the lenders, title companies, etc. to make sure you can meet that date).
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Selling your house can be a drawn-out process, but there are ways to make it more efficient. If you take a little extra time and spend a little more money in the beginning, you will be in the best possible position to complete the sale quickly.
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