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Selling Your Home? Avoid these 5 Common Mistakes (or Else)

Arthur Miller, the patron saint of geeky playwrights who end up marrying unbelievably hot women, once sagely observed that in life “maybe all that one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” Well, one assumes that Miller ended his days thrilled with regrets about hooking up with Marilyn Monroe. Even though their tumultuous marriage only lasted for five years, we’re talking about Marilyn Monroe here. What more needs to be said?

However, one also hopes that Miller didn’t experience the all-too-common regrets — which are 100% miserable and never edifying — associated with selling a home. Here is a look at the 5 biggest laments:

  1. Pricing it too high.

Sorry to be a dream squasher here, but nobody cares how much you love your home, or how much sentimental value it holds for you. You need to price your home based on legitimate comps; not fantasy or hypothetical comps. Otherwise, it’s going to sit on the market, and not all of the advertising in the world — websites, social media, car wraps, billboards, skywriting, you name it — is going to move the needle.

  1. Getting insulted by what you perceive as a lowball offer.

Don’t get offended by what you perceive as a lowball offer. You aren’t paying to get the offer. It’s free. Take it, leave it, or counter-propose something else. As is highlighted here, at the end of the day this is a business transaction. Treat it that way and you’ll be fine. Fail to treat it that way, and you’ll probably need therapy to deal with the emotional wounds.

  1. Your Realtor sucks.

In every profession — medicine, law, teaching, and alas, real estate — there are people who have an abundance of skill and talent, and folks who just plain suck. Good Realtors are responsive, attentive, detail-oriented, focused, and realistic. Simply put, they add significant value to your experience and earn their commission. As for Realtors who suck, well, what’s there to say? They suck! They don’t return calls and emails in a timely manner, and they expect other Realtors to sell your home instead of them. If you find yourself saddled with a Realtor who sucks, then exit the agreement at the earliest possible opportunity.

  1. Spending too much on home improvements.

Yes, all else being equal if your home “shows better” than a comp, then it should sell faster and for a higher amount. However, this doesn’t mean that you should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new kitchen, new bathrooms, and finishing the basement. Expert renovators say that you should expect to get about 50 percent of your costs back on selling (and that’s in a good market). What’s more, some home buyers have their own vision of what a perfect kitchen or basement looks like, and it doesn’t align with yours. The moral to this story? Work with your (great) Realtor to identify high-impact renovations and improvements, like replacing or painting the front door, or giving some rooms a long overdue paint job.

  1. You’re holding on to clutter.

The other — and usually more accurate — word for clutter is “crap.” Like those jet skis that you bought 10 years ago and won’t throw away, because “you never know when you’ll go jet skiing,” or that Ronco VegOMatic that is still in the box (damn those persuasive infomercials!). If you can’t bear to permanently part with these beloved items, then at least haul them to a self-storage facility. The last thing you want is for prospective buyers to get immediately turned off because they feel they’ve wandered into a museum of stuff that time (and everyone else for that matter) has forgotten.



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