Low interest rates could spark a pickup in the home-sale market in some areas. If you’re inclined to sell, here are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

The biggest mistake sellers make is listing at an unrealistic price. If you want or need to sell, your home must be priced at or under current market value, particularly in places where prices are declining.

To avoid pricing too high or too low, carefully research your local market before selling.

Low interest rates could spark a pickup in the home-sale market in some areas. If you’re inclined to sell, here are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

The biggest mistake sellers make is listing at an unrealistic price. If you want or need to sell, your home must be priced at or under current market value, particularly in places where prices are declining.

To avoid pricing too high or too low, carefully research your local market before selling. If you can’t get the price you want, and you don’t have an urgent need to sell, wait for a better market.

Some sellers want to price under the market to stimulate multiple offers. In some price ranges, such as low-end foreclosures, this can be an effective strategy. However, in higher price ranges, this approach could boomerang. It’s not a good idea to list your home for a lower price than you’re willing to accept.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Sellers who need to sell because they can no longer afford their mortgage payment should check with their lender about reworking the loan to make it more affordable. It could be fruitless to put your home on the market for the price you need in order to pay off your mortgage if that price is above market value.

Consider the benefit of having presale inspections done on your home. It can be beneficial to the sale process if buyers know as much as possible about the property’s condition before they make an offer.

Recently, a home seller in the hills of Oakland, Calif., decided not to have a presale home inspection done. The house was priced right and beautifully prepared for sale. It sold for more than the asking price with multiple offers. Then the buyer’s home inspection revealed a problem with the foundation. This started a round of renegotiation that ultimately resulted in a canceled sale.

It’s a mistake to refuse to entertain any offer from a qualified buyer. In a soft market, it’s natural for buyers to make low offers. Many sellers would rather set a price and say take it or leave it. But, you’ll never know what price the buyer will pay unless you negotiate. …CONTINUED

 

Make sure to select a listing agent who has good negotiation and communication skills. A lot can be accomplished through verbal communications between the buyer’s and seller’s agents, even though a real estate agreement is not binding unless written.

Be wary of working with an out-of-the-area agent. Especially in the current market, you need an agent who specializes in your local market. The status of the housing market varies significantly from one niche market to the next. An agent who works in an area with a high percentage of foreclosures will have a very different opinion of the market than one who works in an area that is low on inventory.

Don’t get into contract with a buyer who isn’t financially qualified. A prequalification letter isn’t enough. You need to know who the lender is. The buyer should have underwriting approval within a number of days of acceptance. Make sure this is written into your purchase contract if the buyer isn’t already lender approved.

Sellers who are fortunate enough to receive more than one offer usually go with the highest price. But, the highest-priced offer isn’t always the best offer. The turmoil in the home mortgage business has resulted in an increase in failed home-sale contracts due to financing issues. Consider accepting an offer in backup position in case the first deal falls apart.

THE CLOSING: An offer from a buyer with a large down payment but a lower price is often a more solid deal than one with a higher price and a 10 percent cash down payment.

Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide," Chronicle Books.

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