This blog is about a real estate don’t do list. Most real estate articles tell you what to do when preparing to sell your house. In this blog I share my thoughts on what NOT to do, based on my personal experience of nearly 30 years as a real estate agent. I might sound negative, but this real estate don’t do list is comprised of things I’ve seen people do that they should NOT do if they want to sell their house.
Here we go:
Don’t Spend Big Money on Improvements
Here is a real estate secret: to justify an improvement, multiply the repair cost by four. So, if it costs you $2,500 to update a bathroom, you should see a market gain of $10,000. I’m talking about cosmetic improvements, such as new flooring, new appliances, rot repair. If your home needs in excess of $20,000 in updates to get in line with the competition, consider lowering your price instead, because $20,000 in improvements means an $80,000 increase in price, which will certainly place you well above the competition. Instead, simply list below the competition. It is worth it in the long run when you consider the disruption to the household, unexpected costs, and the general headache. Be prepared for buyers to ask for repairs. If you know that an item is on its last legs, get bids from contractors before listing your home, and counter-offer accordingly. The buyer always thinks improvements cost three times as much as they really do, so be prepared to share your contractors’ bids.
Seriously, first impressions do matter. Mulching, weeding, tree branch removal, and simple plantings can go a long way in setting your home apart from the competition. These projects are generally affordable and can often be done yourself. You can read more about this in an earlier blog, Do Curb Appeal and Staging Really Matter.
Don’t Ask for More Than Your Home is Worth
When real estate inventory is low, it’s a seller’s market. However, that does not mean buyers will overpay for a home. Too often sellers think they need to leave room to negotiate, but a home that is priced appropriately will receive an offer in the normal amount of time. Correct pricing allows the market to dictate how much the home is really worth by creating the possibility of multiple offers. The seller who shoots for the moon and asks for more than their home is worth ultimately loses out on ready, willing, and able buyers. The home can then become stigmatized as over priced and buyers may choose to skip the property outright.
Don’t Take Your Own Photos of Your Home
Unless you’re a professional photographer, your phone photos just won’t cut it. Again, first impressions matter, and when a buyer is shopping online, photos are the first thing they look at. Tell your agent you want professional photos done.
Don’t Overlook Details
When buyers are looking at a home, they will look at the details. A home inspection will inform of major problems, but not things like light switches that don’t work, dusty curtains, scratched floors, and dirty windows. Try to look at your home as if you’ve never seen it before, and take care of the cosmetic imperfections that might scare buyers away.
Don’t Decorate with Your Political Affiliations, Family Portraits, Wild Game Heads, or Bear Rugs
A lot of people don’t like to see dead animals hanging on walls, pictures of people they don’t know, or posters of presidents for whom they did not vote. Keeping your home impersonal makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize how they will decorate it.
Don’t Go All Trendy
Painting, staging, and sprucing up your home will improve your chances of selling, but don’t get carried away with trends. Avoid using bright colors and eccentric furniture. Stay with traditional colors and furniture styles.