5 Mistakes to avoid when selling your house

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Right now, in most parts of the country, it’s a seller’s market in real estate. Analysts say that there are a lot of prospective buyers in search of new homes. However, there is not a lot of inventory. When demand exceeds supply in real estate, it becomes a seller’s market, meaning a seller has the advantage. Consequently, it’s a highly competitive market for buyers. In fact, it’s not uncommon in times like these for a seller to receive multiple offers on a home. Each buyer must then hope that his or her offer wins out over the others. No matter what the status of the current market happens to be, if selling your house is the goal, there are several mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

If you make one or more of these mistakes, your house is likely to sit on the market for a long time, even if it’s the only home for sale in your area. On the other hand, avoiding these mistakes immediately increases your chances of gaining offers. In fact, it might even place you in a position where you have numerous offers to choose from at once!

Be aware of bad odors when selling your house

selling your house, dirty black tennis shoe

There’s no such thing as an odorless home. There is such a thing, however, as not noticing an odor after you’ve been in a particular environment for a given length of time. Think about it. Have you ever walked into your house and immediately asked, “What’s that awful smell?” only to have everyone say they don’t smell anything? Keep this in mind when scheduling home showings. If you know that an agent is bringing a buyer to your house at a certain time, avoid cooking any food a few hours beforehand, if possible. Yes, your family might love and look forward to “Taco Tuesdays,” but lingering taco smells is not something a prospective buyer wants to encounter when he or she steps over your threshold.

Keeping your home as odor-free as possible will help lessen the time your house stays on the market. Think of issues that could cause bad odors, such as dirty laundry, a cat’s litter box or a dog that needs a bath. Once you put a “for sale” sign in the yard, try to be diligent at reducing odors in the home. It helps to ask a friend to drop by for a visit to “take a whiff” upon entering to check for odors. Also, remember that something you think smells good might be loathsome to another person, such as perfume or a scented candle. Avoid the mistake of spraying room freshener before showings. Instead, just keep the house as clean and odor-free as possible.

Selling your house will be easier if you’re not there

selling your house, woman and man standing in kitchen

One of the biggest mistakes a home seller can make is refusing to leave the house during showings. When you list your house on the market, you must understand that it will disrupt your daily routine and cause a certain amount of inconvenience to your family. If you feel that you simply can’t function without forewarning, you can set time limits as to when agents may show your home. Keep in mind, however, that the more restricted your time window is, the less opportunities you will have to sell your home. Selling your house will be much easier if you are willing to allow showings throughout the day and evening, at least, during normal business hours.

You’re also much more likely to get offers if you make sure no family members are present during showings. The same goes for pets! A buyer will undoubtedly feel more comfortable about wandering through rooms and around the property if you’re not there. There might also be questions that a buyer is not comfortable asking an agent in your presence. Finally, if you’re hovering nearby, a buyer might feel rushed, which might cause you to miss out on an offer that might have been made if he or she had spent a little more time in the home.

Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in your house

selling your house, table, chandelier, framed artwork on walls,

Before scheduling showings, take a thorough look around your house. Do you have family photos on almost every wall? Are there personal items displayed on mantles, end tables and countertops? This mistake can prevent you from selling your house. The goal of home showings is to gain offers from prospective buyers. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Would you make an offer on a house that you don’t feel comfortable or welcomed in? A buyer must be able to feel at home — to imagine himself or herself living in your house.

When buyers tour houses, they usually make an offer when they enter one that “feels like home.” It will be difficult to create this type of ambiance if your personal items are on display every where a buyer turns. To avoid this mistake, take time to simplify and minimize home decor before scheduling showings. You could, in fact, prepare for moving day by packing up all of your family photos and personal items ahead of time. Place them in storage and replace them with basic, simple home decor. Create an environment that is neutral and enables buyers to see themselves living in your house. This is known as “staging” — and properly staged homes almost always sell faster than homes that are cluttered with personal decor.

Speaking of clutter, clean your house before showings

half a glass of milk, teddy bear, clutter

You might not mind a messy room, but your mess is likely to turn buyers away. If selling your home as swiftly as possible is your goal, you’ll want to keep it clean and clutter-free in case there’s a showing. Referring back to the earlier section on odors, the tidier and cleaner you keep your house while it’s on the market, the more odor-free it will stay, especially if a showing is scheduled unexpectedly. Pack as much away as possible, including kids’ toys, sports equipment and general clutter around the house.

Remember that, especially during a walk-through, people are going to open your closets, as well as kitchen cabinets and drawers. If your appliances convey, they’ll even open your refrigerator and oven. A neat and clean home will gain offers much faster than a house that feels cluttered, messy or dirty. Keep in mind that stains or worn furniture or carpeting create a feeling of clutter. Add throw pillows to cover stains on a couch or give a room a fresh coat of paint if you can’t remove marks on walls with general cleaning.

A home showing begins at the curb

house, lawn, small shrubs

Another mistake home sellers often make is to focus all of their attention on the interior of their home, while neglecting the outside. Most people begin their home searches nowadays online. Beyond that, every home showing starts at the curb. Selling your house will be easier if you take a few steps to spruce up the exterior before prospective buyers start to arrive. Stand out in front of your home, in the street, if needed, to take in the whole view. How does the roof look? The exterior siding or brick of the home? Is the porch or yard cluttered and messy? Are there cracks in the driveway that are unsightly or pose a safety hazard?

Make sure trees and shrubbery are neatly trimmed. Adding a few landscaped features, such as a patch of flowers, can enhance curb appeal and increase the value of your home. It is imperative that you have adequate lighting outdoors. Check this at night and make improvements as necessary before showings begin. You might even consider adding a row of light-scaping along the walk that leads to the front door or by a path in the backyard, if you have outdoor living space.

Avoiding these five mistakes will help make the experience of selling your house less stressful and more advantageous. The time and effort it takes to get your house in tip-top shape will be worth it when the offers start rolling in!


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