Selling a home quickly and for the best possible price is what any property owner wants. In today’s buyers’ market, it’s imperative that sellers get everything right in order to achieve a sale. However, there are many sellers that unintentionally make mistakes that sabotage their sale.
Here are 8 common mistakes that sellers make:
1. Pricing the home too high
Overpricing a home is a huge home selling mistake. Many sellers overestimate the value of their home, either because they have an emotional attachment to the home or want to leave room to negotiate.
The problem with this strategy is that it can easily backfire. Thanks to technology, today’s buyers are incredibly well-informed about pricing in an area. An overpriced home will be stand out like a sore thumb and be ignored by sellers and quickly become stale.
Sellers should research the competition by seeing what other similar properties in the area are selling for, and get a comparative market analysis (a list of sold prices for similar properties in the area) from a reputable estate agent, before deciding on a price.
Read more: Home pricing mistakes sellers should avoid
2. Using awful photos
Over 90% of property searches today start online, so it’s important that you take good photographs that show your home off in the best possible light (both literally and figuratively). Research shows that homes with professional photos get more views than equivalent properties.
A few photos taken quickly on a mobile phone will lack the ‘wow’ factor and are unlike to pique a buyer’s interest. To prep for photos make sure your home is clean, uncluttered and staged. Make sure the lighting is perfect and that photos are taken with a good camera.
Read more: Prepping for perfect property photos
3. Hanging around during viewings
Potential buyers feel awkward when they walk into a home to view a house and find the owner there. They feel uncomfortable looking closely around the house and discussing the home with the owner present. A potential buyer also needs to be able to picture the home as their own – something that is difficult to do when owners, and sometimes their family and pets too, are hanging around. If there is a viewing scheduled, leave the house and maybe take the family out for a treat. Trust your agent to handle all questions and negotiations with potential buyers.
Read more: Should sellers be home during viewings
4. Not making obvious repairs
Not taking care of repairs before putting your home on the market is a mistake - a home with visible maintenance issues is harder to sell, or sell at the best possible price. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and look at the house with a critical eye - if you notice the issues, chances are the buyer will too. Even relatively minor issues like cracked tiles, broken cupboards, dirty carpets and faulty light fittings will put buyers off as they create the impression that the home is poorly maintained. Even if you find a buyer that is willing to make an offer, they will use the maintenance issues as leverage to negotiate you downwards.
5. Not disclosing defects
Not disclosing defects could cause you huge problems down the line. Many sellers think that the voetstoots clause protects them from any legal blowback if the house is sold with defects. This, unfortunately, is not the case. A seller is required to provide full disclosure of all known defects in the house.
The law differentiates between latent and patent defects. Patent defects are clearly visible upon reasonable inspection, like a crack in a wall for instance, and buyers have no legal recourse for these later. Latent defects are not immediately noticeable, but if a seller knows about them, they are legally obligated to let buyers know about them. The voetstoots clause does not provide legal protection if you intentionally conceal defects from the buyer. Failure to do so, could result in the sale being cancelled and costly litigation.
Read more: Latent and patent defects and the CPA
6. Not decluttering
Clutter makes your home look smaller and having your personal items all over the house makes it difficult for buyers to envision themselves in the space. You should do a thorough spring clean and clean out or store as much of your stuff as possible. Try to provide buyers with a “blank canvas” so that it’s easy for them to picture themselves living in the house.
Read more: Quick and easy ways to declutter your home
7. Ignoring the outside
Getting the outside of the house in order is as important as the inside. South Africans love spending time outdoors and a well-maintained garden could clinch the sale. The garden needs to be tidy and the grass mowed. If you have a pool, make sure that it is blue and sparkling. Don’t ignore your home’s curb appeal either. You want buyers to have a great first impression when they pull up outside the home. Ensure that exterior walls are well-maintained, and the landscaping is neat.
Read more: How to enhance your home's curb appeal
8. Making it personal
Selling a home is a business transaction and it’s important to treat it as such. You’ve spent years in a home and created memories but, as difficult as it may be, personal feelings need to take a backseat during negotiations. Some sellers are so determined to get the full asking price for a property, that they simply turn down all offers that are below the asking price. This approach could cost you the sale.
If you’re happy for the home to sit on the market for a while, you could wait for a full price offer. Most of us however would prefer to sell and move on quickly.
Many buyers will test the water with a cheeky offer, so don’t be insulted and take it personally. Consider it to be the starting point in negotiations and be prepared to counter-offer. If handled correctly, negotiations could result in an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties.