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5 Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make

David Kurt

What made you decide to get into real estate? I was one year into working a “real job”; the type you study hard and go to University for when I re...

What made you decide to get into real estate? I was one year into working a “real job”; the type you study hard and go to University for when I re...

Mar 1 12 minutes read

Just because it’s a strong seller’s market does not mean you can throw your home up on the market willy-nilly, for whatever price your heart desires, ignoring all of the best home-selling practices of days past. Even though sellers do have the advantage these days, it’s still important to avoid these top five common home-selling mistakes.

#1. Not Hiring an Agent

Look, I get it. 😰 It's crazy expensive to hire and pay for an agent. The traditional model in Canada requires the seller to pay the agents involved in the transaction.  A lot of home owners are wound up in on how much selling their home is going to cost. But when it comes down to listing your home, it is so important to pay attention to how much value the right agent can add! We know you want to keep as much of the profit from the sweat equity you poured into your home over the years and all of the sentimental value. But, selling a home is not as simple as taking a few photos and listing it online. If it was, the whole profession of real estate agents would not be around. Working with the right real estate agent can position the deal to get absolute maximum exposure; and you don't have to navigate the potential risks and Sudbury-sized pot holes that can exist in a transaction on your own. You have an experienced realtor advocating for you, all the while helping you sell your house for more money and faster. According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical “for sale by owner” listing goes for about $260,000, while agent-assisted sales go for $318,000 on average. 

A real estate agent is an invaluable resource during the home-selling process who will be there to guide you, give you expert tips and answer any questions as they pop up. Real estate agents can be well worth the  investment. So, don’t make the mistake of opting for a “for sale by owner” listing with the hope of saving a few thousand dollars. The headache, extra costs and time it takes may not be worth it in the long run.  Dealing with a crazy bidding war from a listing agents perspective can be an overwhelming and extremely detailed evening making sure the 10+ buyer agents and their clients are treated fairly and honestly. All the while fighting for our seller clients to get the most value. When a private seller is the one who is holding their own 'bidding war' they are not upheld to a code of ethics and a regulating body (the same way a Realtor® is).  As a buyer agent, I often feel skeptical and on more than one occasion, have caught a private seller lying to me about what is happening behind closed doors. 

As a bit of a side note, if we look at the private sellers in the marketplace; typically 80% of them are listed way out of line with reality, while 10-20% of them can be under-educated and often we are able to secure amazing deals for our buyer clients when we see these opportunities. 

#2. Hiring the Wrong Agent

That being said, you don’t always want to hire the first real estate agent you come across. Some research is required to find the agent who’s the best fit. Find reviews or reach out to friends and family who have used agents for recommendations. This will save you the headache of hiring the wrong agent who just doesn’t jive with your goals — and the pain and time it takes to find a new agent.

Just because an agent offers a full team of support, or an awesome listing video, doesn't mean that seller is the right fit for you.  Find an agent  who offers the right services that you value. Realize that you are in the driver's seat when you're selecting the agent that you want to have fight in your corner. 

💡 As a small tip, one of the most important factors I would be using to judge an agent who can offer me good value would be local knowledge.  I'm not talking about general knowledge of the Sudbury area.  I want an agent who knows my street, my neighbourhood...or better yet, lives in the area.  Its not a secret that as agents we prefer to work in specific locations or niche markets. This is where we are most experienced and have the knowledge, not just of the local schools, but the local parks, the coffee shops, the developments planned, rezoning applications, and as creepy as it sounds, we've been in the majority of the houses in the area. We are giving you advice on why that place down the street sold for so little, or so much.  Rather than just showing you sale values with some inside photos we pulled up on Realtor.ca.  

#3. Not Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

I love to use this saying when chatting to our team or clients, "We have to prepare the house for the Market and the Market for your House." Step one: get your home ready for the market. I've been through 10's of thousands of homes, and I know what buyers are looking at. Trust me when I say buyers care about the details: the dirty windows, the unpainted baseboards, or the poor job of caulking around the shower. This doesn't mean sellers have to spend a massive amount on renovating their entire house. When we list a home at Lake City Realty, we work with local contractors to make sure your place shows in the best possible shape before we are ready for the market.  

We will work with you to make sure you fix any visible issues that will decrease your home’s value. For example: dripping faucets, chipped paint, and broken doorknobs and appliances. When a house is riddled with visible damages, buyers will be under the impression that there are many more issues lingering that have also been ignored. This is another area where working with a real estate agent can help you. Realtors are primed in what buyers look for, what turns them off, and what repairs are worthwhile.

Even in a red-hot seller’s market, you still need to de-clutter, deep clean, and more than likely stage your home to get it ready for the market. I know you love your house and probably think its magazine ready.  But let us bring in our experts who have the perfect eye for what the 'market is looking for'.  Not what your personal style and taste is. It's an odd thought process, but when that For Sale sign goes up, we want your home to give off the calm and neutral vibe that majority of targeted buyers will fall in love with. I know how much you may love bright orange... and the accent wall may look amazing,  but, we want the market as a whole to fall in love with your home. De-cluttering and de-personalizing is another critical step to get your home for sale-ready. That means take down the personal photos, go through the junk drawer and donate any miscellaneous items clogging your closets, doorways, basement, attic, and anywhere else.  

We are experts in selling houses, not interior decorating or staging homes. Thats why we bring in professionals to get your house ready for the market.  At Lake City Realty, we don't want to be seen as a Jack or Jill of all (doing the photos, the marketing, the videos, the staging, etc...) we are Experts in Selling Homes.  We will bring in our team of experts who specialize in all those other areas!

#4. Underestimating the Cost

You’ve likely heard the adage, “you have to spend money to make money.” This rings true when it comes to selling your home as well, which many sellers often forget about. But, did you know the total cost to sell a home can be as much as 10 percent of the sale price when you factor in commission, closing costs, repairs, and any other buyer concessions? You may also have to pay two mortgages if you don’t sell your home before you move or pay rent if you sell your home before you find another one. So, if you’re toying with the idea of selling, let's talk about budgeting to handle any related costs as they pop up.

Make sure you sit down with your agent to fully understand what other costs may be on the table. Are you buying a new house next? There will most likely be a large amount of money required for Land Transfer Tax. Are you breaking your mortgage early? There may be significant bank penalties for getting out of your current mortgage.  We know the right questions to ask to make sure you don't have any surprises when you're signing paperwork at the lawyers and picking up your closing funds. 

#5. Setting an Unrealistic Price  

Just because it’s a seller’s market does not mean you can ask for an astronomical price for your house. This is another area where working with an agent helps as they have the tools, knowledge, and experience to price your home fairly based on what similar homes in the area are going for, updates you’ve done, square footage, and so forth. Despite what you may think, given market conditions, overpriced homes don’t typically sell. A recent survey found that 70 percent of real estate agents said that overpricing is the number one mistake that sellers make.

The interesting thing in the current market is it can be seen as a mistake to price at the right price too. There are 3 strategies for selling in this marketplace, under pricing, pricing at the right value and over pricing. All 3 scenarios have their place depending on your specific situation. It's crazy that I've got 15 years of real estate experience that taught me what I know. But we are in a different marketplace that Sudbury has ever seen, and just because something was the right approach for selling the last decade and a half, doesn't mean it's the right approach for the current marketplace. We are happy to discuss all scenarios, even the hybrid scenarios that we may find ourselves in. We put an incredible emphasis on following the trends of the marketplace. I've been tracking the weekly activity (sales, new listings, # of multuple offers, etc..) for the last 2 + years on my podcast. Our team's expert pulse on the market is happy to make sure you get the best advice for what scenario will work for you. 

Bonus: Posting Unprofessional Photos  

We’re all photographers these days with our iPhones and Instagram filters, aren’t we? Not quite. Online photos are often the first thing potential buyers will see. And, blurry, dimly lit, or otherwise amateur-looking photos will convey to them that you’re not serious about your listing and who knows what other issues they may find inside your home. Professional images will position your home in the best light (literally) and leave the best first impression possible among potential buyers who will be eager to get a glimpse of your home in person instead of being under the impression that your home is a dark cave.

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