AgentMarketing

3 epic fails that sabotage home sales

Mind the details -- especially when it comes to curb appeal
  • No mistake has larger ramifications than pricing a home too high.
  • Don’t scare buyers away before they even get a chance to look inside -- take care of the yard.
  • The cardinal rule of homeselling is making a good first impression.

Selling a home is a process — one that is contingent on several factors falling into place at the right time. There are a lot of moving parts to every transaction and perhaps even more ways for things to transpire. Fortunately, savvy sellers can stay ahead of the curve and place the odds in their favor.

The sooner you understand that challenges are only as big as you make them out to be or are — better yet — almost entirely avoidable, the sooner you can feel better about the future of your impending transaction.

In part one of our series on common selling mistakes, we discussed security issues, landscaping and sizzle features. Now let’s take a look at three more of the most common homeselling mistakes and how you can avoid making them yourself.

Pricing too high

I can assure you that no mistake has larger ramifications than pricing a home too high. In fact, there is no better way to see to it that your property doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For no other reason, putting too high of a price point on a house is widely considered to be the biggest selling mistake owners can make.

I, for one, am not ashamed of the work I do in the real estate industry. In fact, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t confident in the products I place on the market.

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When I rehab a home to the best of my ability, the quality speaks for itself. However, I would be ignorant to assume that the sweat equity I put into a property somehow makes it worth more.

Yes, the upgrades I make do increase the price point, but far too many sellers tend to overvalue their properties based solely on how hard they worked on them. Again, trying to sell a home for more than the market dictates is a recipe for disaster. Prospective buyers won’t even give your property the time of day if the price is too high.

That said, it is typically in an owner’s best interest to price his or her property lower than he or she might have originally intended. You will want to remain competitive of course, but consider going slightly lower than those properties people will compare yours to. That way you will certainly generate a lot of interest.

However, lower price points have the added benefit of creating competition. With a little ingenuity and an attractive enough price, it’s entirely possible for said competition to boost your sales price higher than you ever imagined. If you have done your job correctly, you won’t even have to ask for more money; buyers will increase their offers to beat out their competition.

Neglecting property maintenance

Many people fail to recognize that selling a home is a process; it can span the course of months and coincide with numerous hurdles.

However, those who fail to account for the entire duration could find themselves making one of the most crucial selling mistakes of all: neglecting to maintain the property.

You must accept that it could take some time to close a deal, and make a commitment to perform regular maintenance. Consequently, it’s over the course of time that a home is on the market that people often have the misfortune of messing up. Quite simply, they don’t give the property the attention it deserves while it is up for sale.

To avoid making this mistake yourself, I recommend focusing your attention on three areas over the course of a sale: yard maintenance, debris removal and the systems that heat and power the home.

In doing so, you will see to it that your product not only catches the attention of prospective buyers but also accommodates their needs.

Yard maintenance

In my years as a real estate investor, I have come to realize that maintaining curb appeal is equally as important as creating it. That said, it’s entirely possible for all of the landscaping you do to be for naught if you have no intention of maintaining it.

It’s not good enough for the front of the house to look good for a week or even two; the front yard must look pristine throughout the whole selling process. Far too many owners account for yard work on the preparation end of a sale but neglect to maintain it through the sale itself.

No matter how well you cleaned the yard up, grass will grow, bushes will need trimming and leaves will need raking. Unless the property is sold in a relatively short period, you must commit to maintaining the yard — and everything that comes with it. You might even want to consider hiring someone to do the work for you.  As long as it gets done, it doesn’t matter who is doing it.

Remember, a lazy exterior suggests the inside won’t be any better. Don’t scare buyers away before they even get a chance to look inside. Your landscaping could be the one thing that determines whether or not the home will sell.

Debris removal

Although not as common as yard maintenance, it’s equally important to make sure there is no debris serving as an eyesore or obstruction to your property. Sellers are advised to rid the property of anything that doesn’t belong. Debris can range from leftover construction materials to fallen tree branches.

Regardless of whatever obstruction is on your property, there is a good chance that it’s sending the wrong message to prospective buyers. The last thing you want your property saying is that you don’t care how it looks.

It sets a bad image for the rest of the home. Do yourself a favor and remove any debris that could potentially cause people to look the other way.

Heating and power systems

Of the three items that require routine maintenance, the systems that heat and power your home are probably the least obvious. HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) units and electrical grids are simply out of sight and out of mind for anyone not currently living in the property. However, I can assure you that these systems require just as much maintenance, if not more so.

In areas with cold weather specifically, maintenance of any heating systems is integral. Insulation and even heaters need to be working at their full capacity.

The last thing you want to do is walk into a home for sale that is flooded because of a pipe that burst after it was frozen. Trust me; this happens more often than you might think in areas where the temperature drops below freezing.

To avoid scenarios such as this, perform weekly (and possibly daily) checkups to ensure things are in working order. It might take a little time, but I can assure you it is worth the peace of mind it can provide.

Forgetting exterior light fixtures

Of all the rules associated with home sales, none is more important than making a good first impression. I have yet to determine whether or not there is anything else capable of swinging prospective buyers in your favor faster than an aesthetically pleasing home presentation.

In my experience, nobody will entertain the notion of looking inside the house if the exterior doesn’t give him or her a reason to. Presenting the home in the best light possible will reward you accordingly.

Otherwise known as curb appeal, the physical property itself has a responsibility: to appeal to everyone. That means everyone driving by should like what he or she sees. However, where people typically go wrong is in assuming people won’t drive by at all hours of the day.

Don’t forget that some people will only be able to view your home at night. It’s on you to account for what is likely to be poor lighting.

To solve this problem, add exterior lighting fixtures. Not only will proper lighting add a much-appreciated ambiance, but it will also allow people to see the home.

If you aren’t convinced, simply consider the alternative. It is safe to assume that the interest of passersby will never be piqued if they can’t even see the home, let alone feel welcomed. Subsequently, neglecting to provide the proper lighting for the home could prevent it from being seen by the right buyer.

I must admit, this was one omission I didn’t see having negative ramifications when I first started in the industry.

However, I quickly learned from my mistakes and made sure to keep the front yard properly lit at night, even if that meant implementing something as simple as accent lighting around address numbers or mailboxes. Every little bit counts. Don’t let the home sit on the market because you failed to light it up at night.

These mistakes are entirely avoidable. I encourage you to be proactive in your homeselling. Arm yourself with the appropriate knowledge to make wise and informed decisions.

Than Merrill is the founder and CEO of FortuneBuilders and CT Homes. Connect with Than on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @ThanMerrill.

Email Than Merrill.