How to Avoid Costly Home-Selling Slip-Ups

That's it! You've decided to sell your home. Whether it's your first home or fifth, selling your home can be stressful, emotionally challenging and time-consuming. It's easy to make mistakes that can end up being major ones that can cost you the sale. spoke to Scott Russell, a veteran Realtor and president-elect of the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), to ask for his tips on how to avoid expensive mistakes. Russell, who has been in the industry for 34 years, says he's heard and seen it all.

Here are the most common mistakes that he says can lower your home value or even cost you the sale and how to avoid them.

1) Hiring an Agent for the Wrong Reason

Don't hire Uncle John's best friend without first checking if he is right for the job. You need to choose a real estate professional who knows your area as well as the housing market, in addition to having the marketing skills to make your home stand out. Russell suggests you go online and review ratings to help you make an educated decision, and get recommendations from people in your area
2) Setting an Unrealistic Price

Probably the biggest mistake home owners make is setting an unrealistic price.

"Yes, it's been written to death but it bears mentioning again," says Russell. "Too many sellers overprice their homes, placing too much weight on what the price of a home similar to theirs is going for or they overinflate what their renovations are worth.

"Conditions vary from market to market. A similar house in Steveston versus elsewhere in Richmond will not be priced the same."

3) Poor Online Listing Photos

In today's technological world, many buyers look for homes online first. You do yourself a huge disservice if you don't have great photos of your home, as that is what online property hunters want. You need lots of images, at least one of every room and at different angles. They need to be high-quality, crisp and clear ones, taken preferably in natural light. The photos should showcase your home's best assets. It will set your house apart and help generate more interest. If your agent takes the photos and you are not happy with them, complain and ask for a professional photographer as part of the deal.

4) Not Doing Those Small Repairs First

You may have done some key renovations to increase your chances of a sale (see " Seven Renos to Get Your Home Sale Ready") but what about those little problems that you've stopped noticing? If an interested party comes through your home and finds broken handles, doors that don't shut properly or trim that hasn't been painted all the way through, they will be mentally adding up the cost of the fixes and will likely put in a lower offer. Or worse they are going to think twice before putting an offer at all. A home in need of repairs indicates to them that the owners don't really look after their home and they will be wondering what else is wrong with this house that they can't see.

5) Creating an Unwelcoming Ambience

If a Realtor and their clients pull up to a home with every light blazing out of the windows, chances are those prospective buyers will get a strong sense of your presence and have a harder time picturing themselves living in your home. On the flip side, don't leave the place in unwelcoming darkness or only light a small desk lamp - light it as if you are entertaining guests. And if it's high summer and viewers are seeing it in the daytime, ensure plenty of natural light floods in. (For more advice on ambience, décor and staging, see " Six Steps to Summer Selling.")

6) Hovering During a Showing

Prospective buyers do not feel comfortable if you are hovering around the house, or worse, following them around during a viewing. They get distracted, will feel like they cannot discuss your property openly and will leave before really having the chance to see your home properly. So get out of the house and leave the agent to do their job. Also, don't forget to take Rover with you some buyers are scared of dogs.

7) Showing Items that are Not Included

If you love grandma's heirloom chandelier that she willed you or that gorgeous mantel you paid a hefty sum for, and you plan on taking it with you take it down and replace it before you even list your home. Russell says those items, if left during the showing or even in the photographs, could become a bargaining issue. He has seen clients lose a sale because they would not sell those meaningful items to the prospective buyers.

8) Being Unavailable Ever

You must be flexible and accommodate potential buyers, even if it isn't convenient for you. Therefore, your home should always be neat and tidy and ready for a showing at the spur of the moment. First impressions are important. In addition, Realtors never know when an offer will come in, so you must ensure that if you are on holidays to provide a phone number that you can be reached at all times. Russell says he once had a client who never told him he was on a cruise and thus lost the sale.

Selling a home is an important undertaking and not to be taken lightly as doing so could cost you many thousands of dollars. But follow Scott Russell's advice and you stand the best chance of making it through the process without a glitch.

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