Selling a house can be a bit like
having a baby -- everyone gives you advice that you may or may
not have asked for, in spite of the fact that the experience
is unique to each individual every time. And just like having
a baby, there are many myths and "old wives' tales"
to be de-bunked. Among the truths are the following ten:
1. Myth: You should always
price your home high and gradually correct the sales price
Truth: Pricing too high can be as bad as pricing too
Your strategy in listing high
may be that you will always have the chance to accept a lower
offer. But the truth is that if the listing price is too high,
you'll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the price
range where your home should be. Offers may not even come in,
because the buyers who would be most interested in your home
are scared off by the price and won't even take the time to
look. By the time the listing price is corrected, you may have
already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers.
Your real estate agent will be able to offer you a comparable
market analysis for your home. This is essentially a document
that compares your home to other similar homes in your area,
with the goal of helping you to accurately assess your home's
true market value.
2. Myth: Minor repairs can wait until later. There are more
important things to be done.
Truth: Minor repairs make your house more marketable,
allowing you to maximize your return (or minimize loss) on the
By and large, buyers are
looking for an inviting home in move-in condition. Buyers who
are willing to tackle the repairs after moving in
automatically subtract the cost of needed fix-ups from the
price they offer. You save nothing by putting off these items,
and you may likely slow the sale of your home.
3. Myth: Once potential buyers see the inside of your home,
curb appeal won't matter.
Truth: Buyers probably won't make it to the inside of
the home if the outside of your home does not appeal to them.
Many buyers today will drive
by a home before deciding whether or not to look inside. Your
home's exterior will have less than a minute to make a good
first impression. Spruce up the view of the house by keeping
the lawn mowed, shrubs and trees trimmed, and gardens weeded
and edged. Clear the walkways and driveways of leaves and
other debris. Repair gutters and eaves, touch up the exterior
paint, and repair or resurface cracked driveways and
sidewalks. You can also add additional appeal by placing
potted flowers out front, hanging a wreath on the outside of
the door, positioning new street numbers, and putting out a
pleasing welcome mat.
4. Myth: Once potential buyers fall in love with the
exterior look of your home, you put interior improvements on
the back burner.
Truth: Buyers have no qualms about walking right out the
front door within 60 seconds if the house doesn't look like it
could be theirs.
Remember that most buyers are
looking for an inviting home in move-in condition. You might
consider spending a few dollars on: painting, if the existing
paint is in bad shape or an unusual color; carpeting, if it
shows excessive wear or an outdated color or style; refacing
kitchen cabinets; scrubbing bathrooms until they are sparkling
clean; or several other key repairs or replacements. Although
you may be uncomfortable with spending a few thousand dollars
on your home right before you sell it, it's not uncommon for
the right work to more than pay for itself in a higher selling
price and shorter marketing time. Your real estate agent will
consult with you about the repairs and replacements that will
benefit you most.
5. Myth: Your home must be every home buyer's dream home.
Truth: If you get carried away with repairs and replacements
to your home, you may end up over-improving the house.
At some point, improvements
that you make to your home can rise far above and beyond what
is customary for comparable homes in your area. For instance,
there may not be another swimming pool in your entire
subdivision. After spending $20,000 to install an in-ground
swimming pool that you hope will lure buyers, you may find
that it only raises the market value of your home by $10,000
because there are no other comparable properties to support
the market value of the pool. As a rule of thumb, if your
improvements push your home's value higher than 20% above
average neighboring home values, don't expect to recoup the
entire amount of improvements. Your real estate agent can
advise you as to the scope of projects you might consider in
preparing your house for sale.
6. Myth: Buyers are unswayed by sellers that offer creative
Truth: By offering flexibility in financing options, you may
lure even more prospective buyers.
You might consider offering
seller financing, paying some of the buyer's closing costs,
including a one-year home warranty, or other buyer incentives.
Your real estate agent, who has professional knowledge of
local market activity, can help you decide what incentives, if
any, to offer.
7. Myth: You are better off selling your home on your own,
thus saving the commission you would have paid to a real
Truth: Statistically, many sellers who attempt to sell their
homes on their own cannot consummate the sale without the
service of a professional real estate agent.
And those sellers who are
successful in selling without a real estate agent often net
less from the sale than sellers who use do a professional real
estate agent. You probably visit a doctor when you are in ill
health. You also likely take your car to a mechanic for repair
and maintenance. When you require legal advice, chances are
that you seek the services of an attorney. Doesn't it make
sense that you should contact a real estate professional when
you are preparing to sell your biggest asset?
8. Myth: Good sellers are available to guide prospective
buyers through the home, giving the whole process a more
Truth: Prospective buyers will feel more that "this house
could be" their home if the current owners are not there.
The presence of homeowners
and/ or their family members in the home while it is being
previewed can make buyers feel like they are intruding. They
really do need to be able to visualize this house as their
home, which can be difficult to do when they are acutely aware
that it is still your home. Your real estate agent will be
happy to look out for your home during open houses or
9. Myth: Successful sellers insist that the terms of the
sale happen their way or no way.
Truth: If you approach the sale of your home as an
adversary of the buyer, you risk losing a perfectly solid
buyer for no good reason.
Always remember that both you
and the buyer have the same basic end goal: for you to sell
your home and for the buyer to buy your home. Your real estate
agent will join you in approaching negotiations in a positive
frame of mind, which often results in a win-win proposition
for both you and the buyer. And if both parties are satisfied
with the outcome of negotiations, very few things will come
between you and the closing table.
10. Myth: When you receive an offer, you should make the
buyer wait. This gives you a better negotiating position.
Truth: You should reply immediately to an offer!
When a buyer makes an offer,
that buyer is, at that moment in time, ready to buy your home.
Moods can change, and you don't want to lose the sale because
you have stalled in replying.