The 5 Deadly Mistakes a San Mateo Seller Can Make

The real estate market today is fairly good in and around San Mateo.  While its not a hot market, it’s also not a drag the way it is across the bay.  If you are thinking about selling your house right now, it’s really important to avoid these 5 Deadly Mistakes.  Mistakes cost you money and they cost you time.  If you’re trying to sell your home, you have neither time or extra money to waste, do you?  No, I didn’t think so.

Mistake Number 1

Over-Pricing. It’s so easy to think your home is worth more than it really is today.  The peak of the real estate market was in January 2006, not today in May 2008.  We are at the bottom of the market so pricing your home correctly is really important if you really want to  sell it.  Be flexible when an offer comes in.  Don’t take the offer personally.  This is a business transaction and the best deals allow both the seller and the buyer to feel good about it.

How do you determine a reasonable listing price?  Let your agent give you the statistics on all homes sold in your area for the past 60 to 90 days.  You need to look at how long the houses were listed (Days on Market), the list price, the actual sales price, and how long it took to sell.  You need to do some homework, too.  I like to take my clients on a field trip looking at every house for sale in the area with the eyes of a buyer, and compare what they have versus what your home has.  This is a brutal test for you, but really will help you remove yourself emotionally from your home. Remember, this is a business transaction.

Mistake Number 2

Negligent Housekeeping. Come on now, take a critical look at your home and really look at what needs to be done.  Is your shower clean, with white grout and no mold anywhere in the bathrooms?  Are the walls freshly painted?  Is your home cluttered with too much furniture, books, toys, and junk?  Time to clear it out.  I’ve written a lot about clutter and how to get rid of it.  How does your furniture look?  Is the upholstery clean?  If not, buy an inexpensive cover for your sofa and chairs, and watch how it freshens up the look of the room!  Do you need new carpet?  Buy new, neutral colored carpet for the entire house.  Anything you buy to enhance your home for sale is tax deductible.  Get to it!

Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home so a good objective look at how it is today is very important.  If you can afford it, a stager can come in and help you make your home “buyer friendly”.  A stager can use your own items, moving things around from room to room, or have you clear out furniture and bring in their own. Stagers try to keep a home neutral in feeling so it will appeal to the largest number of potential buyers.

Mistake Number 3

Failing to Fix-It.  Buyers, unless they are really looking to buy a fixer-upper, prefer to move into a home that is in perfect, or near perfect condition.  If they have to fix the roof, replace the carpet, sand the hardwood floor and have it stained, or put in new appliances, they may not want to buy your home.  In fact, they may not want to even stay in it to really look at.  Fix everything that you can before it is listed.  Have a property inspection and a pest inspection before putting it on the market, and fix the problems that are mentioned in the reports.  Then have the inspectors come back a second time and give your home a clean bill of health.  Spending the money before you sell, will put more money into your pocket at the close of your escrow.  Replace appliances.  Put in new carpet, new flooring, new tile.  You will see an ROI, when you get that Return On your Investment.

Mistake Number 4

Not Identifying Exclusions.  This can be the cause of a contention just at the most critical point in the sale.  Be sure to specify all sales considerations or exclusions from the sale such as light fixtures, appliances, the flat screen TV that is on the wall in the Family Room.  Rule of thumb, anything affixed to the house stays with the house.  That includes curtain rods, light fixtures, appliances or fixtures.  If you don’t want to sell it with the house, it must be notated in the listing agreement.  Better yet, that chandelier you spent a huge amount of money for?  Take it down and replace it with another one before you list the house.  As for the flat screen?  If it means the difference between a ratified contract and the buyer walking?  You can always buy a new flat screen but you might not find a new buyer offering you the same money.

Mistake Number 5

Misunderstanding the Agent Agreement. If you do not understand the Listing Agreement, ask questions before you sign it.  Your agent is your advocate but you must understand what is expected from her and what she expects from you, too.  Take time to have your Realtor explain every document you must fill out and sign.  Question fees before you list, not after.  You are selling your home and you want the best Realtor out there who works for a quality brokerage.  Ask. Ask. Ask.  What will your agent do to market your home?  What will it cost to stage your home?  How much do those inspections cost?  Can these things be paid for out of your escrow?

Take time to ask questions.  Be satisfied with the answers.  Check references, if you dont know the agent.  A good Realtor doesn’t mind this, and will be there to answer all questions.  Finally, when you do have your home on the market, do not stay in it during showings.  Do not talk to potential buyers.  They don’t want to see you, and they sure don’t want to hear your sales pitch.

After you have a ratified agreement, if the buyer’s ask to talk with you about the little quirks of your home, show them how to turn on the sprinkler system, or what you need to do to winterize your home.  Those little tips are important to the new owner.  Some sellers even leave a list of local tradesmen who have worked on their home, along with babysitter names, and good restaurants.  Its like a welcome package to the buyer, especially if they are new to your community.

Moving? Know the value of your home …