7 home selling mistakes to avoid

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19 Apr 2013

Selling a home can be an emotional event, with prospective buyers invading your home, potentially criticising it in your presence, and possibly even offering you a price well below your expectations. 

Buyers are not overly sensitive to the seller’s emotional attachment to a property, and their criticism can be offensive to the seller who has a lifetime of memories associated with it.

This is according to Andreas Wassenaar, Principal of Seeff Dolphin Coast and Chairman of Seeff KZN, who says apart from this process being time-consuming; it may also be infuriating and draining. 

And this is where a number of home sellers go wrong. Wassenaar shares the seven most important mistakes to avoid when selling your home... 

1. Setting an unrealistic price

The single most important ingredient that the property must offer the prospective buyer is value, he says, and correct pricing is the single most important thing to get right. 

It is a given that every seller of a residential home will want a price higher than what most buyers would be prepared to pay. 

Realism and access to actual sales statistics of similar properties is essential and a detailed comparative market analysis by an experienced property professional is the starting point. This is best achieved by working with your estate agent of choice. 

2. Not contracting with an agent

Although estate agents command a commission, which can be as high as 7.5 percent of the selling price plus VAT, a top-performing estate agent will add considerable value at every level of the sales process. 

They will also most likely be able to negotiate a considerably better outcome than a seller trying to do the transaction themselves. 

The agent will be able to provide advice on correct pricing, a detailed comparative market analysis, and show the seller how best to package the presentation of the property. 

Importantly, the agent will also be able to take the emotion out of the transaction for the seller. 

3. Becoming emotionally involved

Most residential homes are purchased on an emotional basis rather than purely financial considerations. The property has to ‘speak’ to the buyer and often a prospective buyer will walk into a property and just ‘feel’ at home. 

In turn, buyers are not overly sensitive to the seller’s emotional attachment to a property, and their criticism can be offensive to the seller who has a lifetime of memories associated with it. 

By sellers distancing themselves from the process and transaction and using a third-party estate agent to assist, this emotional minefield is avoided.  

4. Expecting to get your asking price

Every smart buyer will want and expect to negotiate on the listing price. For a buyer to transact, they have to believe they are getting a good deal. 

A seller should therefore set the price within the value range for the property and allow some room for negotiation. The state of the general market and the presentation of the property are factors that directly determine the eventual pricing achieved. 

Absolute pricing of your home is irrelevant: it is the pricing relevant to the next best alternate for the buyer that is critical. 

5. Skimping on listing photos

Most buyers will first come across your home online, and what they see will determine whether they even bother enquiring about it. 

The quality of the images of your home is an essential ingredient in the marketing and presentation of the property. If your estate agent does not use a professional photographer, contact one that does.  

6. Not accommodating potential buyers

Once you make the important decision to present your property for sale, it is essential to make the property available for viewing, despite the inconvenience. 

The home has to be consistently clean and presentable and free from clutter because prospective buyers will be put off by an untidy home. 

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and understand that they are also leading busy lives, and that viewings have to be scheduled after-hours or over weekends. 

7. Contracting with an unqualified buyer

The estate agent’s job is to present a willing and able buyer. The screening of prospective buyers is an important part of the process and can avoid extensive wasted time and cost to the seller. 

Beware of giving occupation prior to the registration of transfer, or prior to all funds having been secured by the transferring attorney. 

Horror stories of prospective buyers taking occupation at a high occupational rental prior to transfer and then defaulting on future payments after the first month or two are real. Avoid this pitfall at all costs.

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