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The 6 most common mistakes sellers make — according to expert agents

If your home just isnt selling, any number of reasons could be in play. In some cases, this might not have anything to do with your home and everything to do with the market youre selling it in. However, you could be making some common missteps. (Dont worry: Youre not alone.) According to several of the skilled agents at Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty, these home-selling mistakes are more common than you think.

1. Not fully understanding the finances of selling a home

The first mistake sellers often make is not grasping the significant costs that go into selling a home. We know what youre thinking: Isnt selling my home supposed to put money in my pocket, not cost me more? While some people make money off their homes, some could lose money, and some will break even. Because every sellers situation is different, its important to sit down and do some major calculations before starting this process. And, of course, consulting an experienced agent is always advised. But, if you do realize youre not quite as prepared as you thought, here are a few factors to consider:

  • Your current mortgage: If you still have a mortgage remaining on the home youre trying to sell, its essential that you know how much you owe on that mortgage. Remember: When selling your home, you can only make a profit once youve paid off the mortgage on that home.
  • A home thats underwater: Whether or not you have a mortgage remaining, if your homes value in the current market is worth less than what you paid for it, unfortunately, youre what is called underwater. In this case, if possible, wait to sell your home until youre either in a buyers market or you can put more equity into your home.
  • The costs of selling: Consider any costs that go into preparing your home for sale. For example: staging costs commission for the agent; your share of the closing costs; seller concessions; and the costs associated with moving into your new home when all is said and done.

2. Not fixing significant problems

Another common mistake sellers tend to make is leaving problems uncorrected. If its something obvious, you may not even get prospective buyers coming in the door. And, if the problems arent so obvious but still of concern, this could cause the sale to fall through during the inspection phase, forcing you to put your home back on the market. As a general rule, the longer your home sits on the market, the harder it is to sell it. 

Agent Joy Rice at Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty says not hiring a professional to do home improvements is another common pitfall. Unless the homeowner is a housebuilder or general contractor who does these projects for a living, they should hire a professional. Professionals can foresee potential problems, provide design advice and ensure the safety of the homes structure and occupants during construction.

3. Not creating added value

home selling mistakes and added value projects

While fixing significant problems in the home is a great starting point, sellers should also be investing in changes that can potentially add value to their home. Oftentimes, putting just a few thousand dollars into sprucing it up can make all the difference. 

Painting and yard maintenance, for example, can be great investments. Patti Winchester with Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty offers some words of wisdom on the subject. Its a mistake to follow trendy colors and styles. They go out of style, she says. And dead, woody plants and shrubs are as dated as wallpaper from the 60s. Though, she agrees, you can take inspiration from the 60s strategically. To sum it up: Keep things neutral. Get rid of any dead plants or trees. Spend money on curb appeal, especially the front door.

4. Not staging the home

Staging your home is an investment that can pay off in a number of ways. In fact, staged homes sell 73 percent faster, on average, according to The Mortgage Reports.  Of course, in some markets and for some homes, staging might not be necessary. But, if youre having a hard time selling and other homes are getting offers before yours, it could be a matter of first impressions. 

Your agent will be able to advise you when it comes to how much money you should spend on staging to get more eyes and offers  on your home. Some agents may even be willing to put in their own money for staging, too. I stage most of my clients homes, which consistently increases the sales price and the sellers proceeds, says Rice.

5. Not pricing the home strategically

Even after addressing the aforementioned mistakes, theres still a chance another factor could be affecting your sale: price. You may simply be asking too much. There are many signs that its time to explore a price reduction on the home, including very few or decreased showings, a lack of interest among buyers, and nearby comps at a lower price. If you can afford to wait it out until your market becomes more of a sellers market, go for it. Otherwise, it may be time to bring that price down. 

6. Not marketing well enough

Finally, one of the most common mistakes when selling your home is working with an agent who is not marketing the home well enough or at all. Just sticking a sign in the yard leaves money on the table, says Ashley Mooring, an agent at Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty. If you collaborate with your agent on all the other areas mentioned above, you and your agent become a team with the common goal of greater rewards once your home is sold.

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