7 Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Tips from Tallahassee Realtors and Brokers

The 7 Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make Tips from Tallahassee Realtors and BrokersBy Lilly Rockwell

1. Not inspecting or paying for a new roof: This is a new concern that has taken many home sellers by surprise. Many insurance companies and lenders are requiring a letter stating that a roof has five or more years left on it before they will write coverage or allow the purchase of the home. If your roof is more than 12 years old, many roofers won’t want to write that letter, and it puts the home seller in the position of paying for a new roof or including an estimate of the cost of a new roof for buyers to peruse. “Since you know it will probably come up in negotiations, you may as well have a figure everyone can work with,” Cooper says. “It may only be $7,000 for a new roof instead of the $15,000 the buyer is envisioning.”

2. Pricing their home above the market: Too many home sellers want to base their home’s listing price on what they owe on the house, or try to price it higher than comparable sales in the hope of making more money. But what buyers are willing to pay for your home bears no relationship to how much you owe on it or your profit expectations. “Putting the house on the market at a higher price now to see what you can get, with the plan of lowering the price later, is one mistake sellers make,” said Cindy Cooper of Prudential Fezler and Russell Real Estate. “By the time you have the house priced where it should have started, many buyers have already passed your house by.”

3. Leaving that 1970s wallpaper and Formica countertop: In a buyer’s market with an excessive supply of homes, buyers can afford to be choosy. That means they’re demanding homes in pristine, modern condition. “They expect a house to be in move-in-ready condition but priced like a dilapidated foreclosure,” said Christie Orros of Coldwell Banker Hartung and Noblin. “Buyers really like to see upgrades, such as hardwood floors and granite countertops.”

4. Not staging or properly cleaning your home: Realtors and brokers stress the importance of curb appeal, proper staging and de-cluttering. Ultra-picky buyers will even notice whether a sidewalk has been pressure-washed. Jason Naumann, broker and owner of Naumann Group Real Estate, pushes for staging, especially when it comes to vacant homes. “Nine times out of 10, buyers will not choose a vacant home over a furnished home,” Naumann said. “Staged homes sell for 5 percent more than non-staged homes and sell 90 days faster.” The home seller, though, pays extra for staging.

5. No room for negotiation on price or closing costs: “There’s no such thing as a buyer willing to pay full price unless it’s a steal,” Orros says. “If a seller tells me their absolute bottom line is $225,000, if the market will allow, we need to price it at $235,000 or $240,000.” In addition, buyers are demanding — and getting — their closing costs paid for and allowances for flooring upgrades. Sellers should expect to pay closing costs, which can be around $7,000 for a $200,000 house.

6. Selling a home themselves or not shopping for a Realtor: It’s no surprise that Realtors advocate for hiring an experienced professional and for shopping around for a Realtor, just as you wouldn’t look at just one home before buying one. Simply put, in a challenging market in which there are more sellers than buyers, a Realtor can bring buyers in the door with a savvy marketing plan, including advertising, open houses, and his or her connections with other agents and brokers. “You have to hire someone that does this for a living,” Jason Naumann says. “Hire somebody who knows how to sell a product.”

7. Being inflexible about renting: Some sellers have to move out of their homes because of a job offer in a new city or other urgent reasons. But in this market, many sellers are struggling just to break even on homes they bought between 2004 and 2006. “You don’t have to sell,” Naumann says. “The Tallahassee rental market is stronger today than it has been in the last eight to 10 years.” That’s because many people whose credit has suffered from a short sale or foreclosure, or potential buyers who are skittish about the real estate market, are unable to buy and are renting instead. Cooper warns that home sellers should be aware of the risks associated with renting, including non-paying tenants.

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