For Sellers

For Sellers

How To Avoid 7 Costly Mistakes When Selling Your Home

When you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, there are a number of things to think about, to prepare for, and to juggle. Here’s a list of seven things that can cost you thousands of dollars when selling your home:

The good news is each and every one of these mistakes can easily be avoided.   Here’s a 7-part guide to help you prevent costly problems and sell your home for every bit of its worth in the least amount of time:

  1. Set The Right Price From The Start.  Chances are the first price you have in mind is high, but you think you can always come down.  If you start high, you may literally keep buyers and other real estate agents away because they don’t want to waste their time.  If you lower your price in increments, it’ll be too late – they already see it as an overpriced home.  A knowledgeable REALTOR® will help you set the right price by doing some homework.  He or she will research your area, gather specifics on recently sold homes, discuss trends, and answer questions you have about the value of your home with market facts, not opinions.

  2. Use An Innovative Marketing Plan To Reach More Buyers. Putting a sign in the yard and holding an open house are just the beginning.  You need to go beyond traditional methods and use all possible advertising avenues, including the Internet (quality photographs are key) and social media.  A skilled REALTOR® knows how to get your home noticed by as many potential buyers as possible and also can get the attention of other REALTORS® who are already working with out-of-town buyers that can be hard to reach.  Be sure to hire someone with a complete and cutting-edge marketing plan to help your home stand out from other homes for sale.  Keep in mind, if more buyers are competing for your home, it can sometimes start a “bidding war” where you get to decide who buys your home and usually at the highest price.

  3. Stage Your Home So It Looks In Top Shape.  You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!  Homes are in the best position to sell when they are new on the market, so you want your home to be in model home shape before your first showing.  Look at your home from a prospective buyer’s point of view.  Is your home dark, cluttered, or needing repairs?  Clear out the clutter inside your home, work on the outside, including the garage and yard, and don’t put off fixing anything that’s not working or looks broken.  You don’t need to paint your entire house, but knowing how to fix-up and stage your home properly can help you sell your home for more money.   An experienced REALTOR® will know several easy and inexpensive things you can do to make your home more attractive to buyers.  If you have to move before you start selling your home, stage your home with furniture because a vacant home tells buyers you are more motivated to sell and they may present a lower offer.

  4. Use Effective Negotiating Strategies.  Know what you want from the sale and try to determine what your buyer wants, so you will make a deal that benefits you both.  When a buyer looks at a home, they look at all the factors – foreclosures, distressed sales, and area fluctuations – and make an offer accordingly.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking the “appraisal” value of your home would persuade a serious buyer to pay more by talking about it during the showing.  An expert REALTOR® knows the exact questions to ask potential buyers to determine their motivation for buying and what price they can afford.  If you are present during a showing, don’t tell a buyer why you are selling because they’ll use this information against you.  Simply tell them your housing needs changed.

  5. Protect Yourself With A Properly Written Contract.  A contract is a legally binding agreement involving laws and regulations.  An improperly written contract could cause a sale to fall through and still cost you thousands in repairs and inspections.  Before signing, know what repairs and closing costs you are responsible for and what you are not. You also need a review of your title to see if your property is in conflict with local restrictions or laws.  A competent REALTOR® will help you understand the contract and walk you through the closing process to avoid problems.

  6. Only Sign A Listing Agreement With A Guarantee.  A professional REALTOR® will have a written performance guarantee included in their listing agreement.   You should have the flexibility to modify or cancel your listing agreement so you are always in control when selling your home.

  7. Work With The Best Agent.  Selling your home is likely to be one of the biggest financial transactions you’ll ever make, so you need to hire a trustworthy REALTOR® who understands your goals and will meet your needs.  Ask friends, neighbors, relatives and business associates for recommendations so you find the best agent to guide you through the home-selling process.

10 Options To Avoid Foreclosure


If you’ve missed one or more mortgage payments, or if you’re “underwater” (owe more than your home is worth), you are not alone.  The first thing to know is that you have options.  Here are actions you can take to avoid foreclosure and experts you can call upon for help.


A.  Work with your lender so you can stay in your home. 

If you can prove a temporary “hardship,” such as job loss, income reduction, health issues, divorce and other major life changes that affect your ability to pay back your loan, you may be able to arrange one of the following:  

  1.       Reinstatement.  If your lender has started foreclose proceedings, you have the right to make your loan current by paying all missed payments, plus late fees, legal bills and filing charges. 
  2.       Mortgage Forbearance.  This can reduce or postpone your payments for a few months providing you agree to repay them.  This is temporary relief and not a long-term solution. 
  3.       Refinance.  You can lower your monthly payments by taking advantage of a current interest rate that’s lower than your original one.  If your home has little or no equity, however, it may be difficult to qualify.
  4.       Loan Modification.  Your bank may work with you to modify your loan (by reducing interest or extending the length of the loan).  This depends on the lender and whether you meet certain criteria such as income, debt or credit.  
  5.       Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  This protects men and women in the armed services by limiting the interest charged on a mortgage obligation made prior to enlistment. 


B.  Get out of your situation by moving out of your home.

If you question whether you’ll ever be able to pay off your loan, it may be better to move out.  Some of these options may hurt your credit score but not as much as a foreclosure, and they put you in a better financial situation.  Consider these options:

  1.       Rent The Property.  This option may help pay your monthly mortgage but requires a lot of work finding tenants and you still pay for maintenance on your property.
  2.       Sell Your Home.  It’s unlikely someone will buy your home for the full amount you owe the bank. If you can sell your home for less, the bank may forgive the difference between what you owe and the final sales price they buyer pays (see option #10).
  3.       Bankruptcy.  This can stop or delay a foreclosure but does not eliminate your mortgage because a “secured” creditor has a mortgage on the property as collateral.  Make sure to talk to a bankruptcy attorney.
  4.       Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure.  You voluntarily give your home back to the lender in exchange for being forgiven of the mortgage. You may still have to pay the difference between what the bank sells the home for and what you still owe on your loan, plus legal fees. Many banks won’t consider this until a short sale has been attempted.
  5.       Short Sale.  This involves selling your home for less than you owe on the loan. The lender usually doesn’t allow it unless you have a valid hardship and no assets.  It can be a long process, but has less credit consequences than foreclosure.


C.  Get Help As Soon As Possible From An Expert.  Don’t listen to everything you see

or read in the news and possibly be duped by scammers.  Turn to these qualified people for advice (see next page):

Ø Your REALTOR® can determine the current value of your home and review the options above.  He or she can also explain more about government programs available today.

Ø A Foreclosure Counselor will help you evaluate your current financial situation by reviewing your monthly expenses and income.  A counselor can also identify assistance programs and serve as an advocate with your bank, free of charge. 

Ø A Tax Expert will advise you if you do a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure as forgiveness of debt is sometimes considered taxable income.

Ø A Credit Counselor can help you develop a plan to avoid future financial difficulty and work with you to repair your credit score.



4-Steps To Stage Your Home
For a Fast Sale


If you want to sell your home fast and for the most money the market will pay, it needs to be “staged” properly.  Staging a home is more than just moving around some furniture.  Here’s the step-by-step process for staging the INSIDE and OUTSIDE of your home:


STEP #1:  Assess Your Current Situation.

Identify what improvements need to be made for a speedy sale.  To assess the inside of your home, jot down a list of rooms that need to be cleared out and freshened up.  Then create a second list for the outside of your home.  Start by looking at these two areas on the outside:

Take a walk across the street from the home.  Examine the curb appeal of the home. Make notes of items that are unsatisfactory from a buyer’s perspective. 

Get into your car and start driving away from your home.  Look back and make notes about what looks good, and what needs improvement. 


STEP #2:  Eliminate Clutter.  The key to making a home attractive to a buyer is getting rid of clutter.  Make counters clear, get rid of pictures on the wall and tables, store excess furniture if necessary, put books in boxes.  You’ll be doing this for your move – you may just need to do some of it a little early. 

Here’s a checklist to get started:

  Clear away kitchen and bathroom counters.  These are areas where you need to show the most space and neatness. Put appliances and things away. 

  Re-arrange furniture so rooms look larger.  Store old furniture or cluttered items in another location -- at least while the home is for sale.

  Get rid of as many “personal” things as you can.  Buyers have a hard time visualizing “their” new home with personal belongings everywhere.  Try to make the home look neutral, so someone wouldn't know anyone specific lives there.

  Get all the clutter out of the yard… 

Put hoses away, store garbage cans, put away the sprinkler and kids toys.  The neater the area looks, the better the first impression.


STEP #3:  Spruce the Home Up Before Showing.  Make improvements to the home, but only where it will make the biggest difference to the sales price.  Getting the biggest bang for your buck usually means getting a fresh coat of paint on strategic walls and areas.  New paint is an inexpensive way to show a home in its best condition.  Do this:

  Check the paint condition of the INTERIOR of a home by removing pictures off walls.  It will probably need painting.  Remember to get inside painting done first, before any cleaning.

  Check the paint condition of the entire EXTERIOR of the home.  If it's pealing or worn, the buyer will notice it immediately.  Don't devalue your home by trying to sell it in poor paint condition.  Pay particular attention to the front door, mailbox, garage doors, and walkway areas.  These are where the buyers will be walking and noticing problems. 

Also consider the following items to attract buyers with quality offers:

  Professional Cleaning.  Get a professional firm in to CLEAN the entire home.  Floors, ceilings, windows, fireplace, carpet, drapes -- everything!   Also, check for ODORS.  If you have a pet, your home probably needs to have carpets cleaned or deodorized.  Any odors make a home less attractive.

  Home Inspection.  Check for termites and functional obsolescence.  Many homeowners actually have their home inspected prior to putting it on the market.  It makes a good impression to the buyers when you have your own inspection completed by an independent company.  It will also save embarrassing situations with buyers who discover problems.

  Landscaping.  The landscaping should look immaculate.  Make sure the lawn is groomed, flower beds are clean, leaves are removed, and weeds are pulled.  Check the bushes and trees for grooming also. 



    STEP #4:  Show the Home In the Best Light.

    Always turn on the LIGHTS when showing.  Make sure you turn on all lights around the home before a buyer gets there, including…

   These include: the mailbox light, front door, entry (especially if the entry is dark), and dark hallways.  Make your home alive,


   by being inviting and bright.  Bright homes sell better than dark homes.