Top 10 Selling Mistakes in Real Estate

Photo of a Louisville KY home
Just because you love your home doesn’t mean every buyer will. Avoid these Top 10 selling mistakes and you will find success selling your home in Louisville.

I’m always looking for ways to help my clients. Today, I’m even going to help all of you who are not (yet) my clients. I present the Top 10 Selling Mistakes in Real Estate.

Selling Mistake #10: Lopsided Listing Contracts

When sitting down with your agent make sure you are comfortable with the length of the listing contract. This figure is completely negotiable and both parties should come to an agreement before signing.

Contract length should be at least as long as the average Days on Market (DoM) for your area. Here in Louisville, that number has recently dropped and 3-month listings are now the most common.

It’s also a very good idea to ask about any remedies you would have if your agent doesn’t live up to their end of the bargain.

Selling Mistake #9: Misrepresenting Your Home

While it may be tempting to describe your family room as “a dream come true with more space than you could possibly imagine” in order to entice prospective buyers don’t do it. You need to remember that once a buyer arrives and discovers the room is average sized and not what you described, they will wonder what else you might be exaggerating about.

Don’t stretch the truth about square footage either, as buyers represented by Realtors are likely to notice the deception. As in life, honesty is the best policy.

Selling Mistake #8: Negotiation Failures

When you pick up that phone and hear those wonderful words coming from the other end, “We’ve got an offer!” you may think everything is golden. Just hold on a second. If you don’t negotiate the deal properly, things could go sideways and fast!

I’ve found that some sellers refuse to give ground in negotiations because they believe the buyer is already getting “a great deal.” It is very common for sellers to fail to bebe objective about their home because they’ve built an emotional attachment to it.

Market value is determined by comps. This is how true professionals help set the price. It’s not the seller, listing agent, buyer or buyer’s agent telling us the value… it’s the Louisville real estate market.

Selling Mistake #7: Lacking a Sales Strategy

Selling your home requires more than simply getting it listed in the MLS. There are literally hundreds of ways to promote a property.

Open Houses aren’t the powerhouse they used to be. Newspaper classifieds are a punch line. Direct mail? Sure, if you like to throw money away.

The real move since 2000 is digital promotion. Make sure the Realtor you choose is an Internet expert! Not all Louisville Realtors are, ask for proof.

Selling Mistake #6: Bad Timing

Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Your boss says, “You’re moving to Topeka” and it’s just a matter of time. This is unavoidable.

But if you can choose when to sell your Louisville home, here are a couple of points to remember. First, if you’ve only lived in the home a short time, consider staying a year or two longer. After only two years, you’ve barely built up enough equity in your home to cover closing costs and other fees.

Second, avoid listing your home during the holidays. Most buyers are focused on family during this time rather than shopping for a new house. In real estate circles, we call this the “dead period.”

There are other tricks here as well. As your professional Realtor, “Which is the best day of the week to list?” and see what he says.

Selling Mistake #5: Wrong Realtor

I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone tell me they’re using their Aunt or their sister’s cousin’s neighbor as their agent. Just because someone is related to you, doesn’t necessarily make them a good Realtor. It also doesn’t mean the won’t be.

Studies have shown that more than anything else, people want their agents to be trustworthy and professional. When it comes time for you to sell, interview multiple Louisville agents and learn about their work ethic and their strategy for marketing your property.

Some of the more successful agents feel like they’ve already paid their dues and don’t need to do the little things. It’s those “little things” that separate the good agents from the great agents.

Selling Mistake #4: For Sale by Owner

Current data from NAR states:

FSBOs accounted for 9% of home sales in 2012 and 2013. The typical FSBO home sold for $184,000 compared to $230,000 for agent-assisted home sales.

But that doesn’t mean you should always use an agent to sell your home. If your home is in one of those ultra hot neighborhoods and you’ve got a good understanding of the home selling process and you know how to price your home appropriately, then you might catch a break.

Keep in mind that there are a number of variables that might arise that would make having a professional on your side a wonderful thing. Never say “never” but you could find yourself months into the process with very few showings and even fewer offers. There’s a reason why the number of FiSBOs have dropped nationally.

Selling Mistake #3: Big Red Flags

There are certain problems that will scare off prospective buyers in a New York second. If your Louisville property has any of the following problems, you need to correct them before putting your home on the market:

  • foul odors
  • visible mold or mildew
  • siding or gutters that are separated from house
  • broken doors or windows
  • problems with the heating/cooling systems
  • “soft” floors or steps

Assuredly, some problems are bigger than others but problems like these will overshadow the positive qualities of your home.

Selling Mistake #2: Wrong Price

What used to be the most important aspect to selling your home is now second, and that’s the price. If the price is too high buyers won’t even consider your property.

A savvy Louisville Realtor will help you find comparable properties that have sold, as well as, what’s currently on the market. Also, how do your neighborhood compare to other parts of the city with similarly priced homes.

There are a dozen important factors to consider when determining the appropriate price. In the end, a good Realtor will set an appropriate price range for you and then ask you to select the Asking Price. It’s very important that you feel comfortable with the price.

Even though you can lower your price in the future, new listings get the most attention in the first couple of weeks after they come on the market and homes that stay on the market longer than average usually sell for less.

Selling Mistake #1: Poor Property Preparation

In today’s market, condition is huge! The move-in ready, shining and spotless homes are selling in the first week! (As long as none of the other Top 10 Selling Mistakes are made.)

Before listing your home, perform the following exercise. Drive up to your house and park on the street. Walk up the drive evaluating everything from the mailbox to the lawn and landscaping all the way up to the front door. What did you notice about your home?

A wise person once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

If a buyer doesn’t like your home the first time they visit, they surely won’t return. Therefore, it’s critical to have your house “on its best behavior” when the guests arrive.

Remove as much clutter as possible. Make sure the grass is nicely trimmed. Turn on all the lights and open the blinds/curtains. Every little thing you do to show that your home is well-cared for will improve your odds of impressing those buyers.

Conclusion

If you can avoid these pitfalls, you will find yourself ahead of the game and well on your way to selling your Louisville home!