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8 Top Home-Selling Mistakes People Often Make

By Kate Ashford

It’s a challenging market for home sellers right now. Buyers have a lot of options — and they don’t have to buy what you’re selling. Your house is likely just one located in a sea of for-sale signs, so you can’t be sloppy about putting it on the market.

Luckily, here are some dos and don’ts that will help you collect thousands (if not hundreds of thousands!) for your place.

  1. Don't . . . ask for too much money.

    Yes, you know what you paid for the house. But that doesn’t mean that it’s still worth that amount — or that it’s appreciated in value since you bought it. “Your house is only worth what the market is willing to pay you,” says certified financial planner Ellen Derrick of LearnVest Planning Services, who has bought and sold at least eight homes, including investment properties.

    “It doesn’t matter what’s in it. And it doesn’t matter what your mortgage is.” Your realtor has an eye on the market and knows what kind of prices homes — just like yours — are garnering now. Pricing your home too high will discourage interested parties from making an offer, and your property could sit for months, which isn’t your goal.

    What to do: Have a few realtors give you a price on the home (or get a comparative market analysis), and — this is key — don’t ignore them. Keep in mind that even if you’ve made pricey improvements to the home (granite countertops, stainless steel appliances), you may not get your money back if you’re the only home on the block with such upgrades.

    If comparable kitchens in the neighborhood don’t have similar upgrades, buyers aren’t expecting fancy perks in yours, and may not be willing to pony up for the difference.

  2. Don't . . . skip the marketing.

    You may think that all you have to do is take one photo of the house, stick a “For Sale” sign in your yard and buyers will come pouring in the door. Au contraire. “The only way to guarantee that you’re going to get the highest price for the house is to use all of the marketing options available to you,” says Holly Mellstrom, a realtor in Pelham, NY.

    “This means Internet advertising, 30 pictures of your house, public open houses and even postcards.” The more people who see your house, the better your chances are of selling it. In an age when buyers start their searches online, counting on drive-bys and word of mouth isn’t enough anymore.

    What to do: Don’t wait until the last minute to notify a realtor that your house is for sale. If you can, give her at least a month of lead time, so she can research comparable homes and set a good price.

    “Give them time to book their favorite professional photographer,” Mellstrom says. “And give them time to photograph your house on a day the sun is out.” In fact, if you live in a seasonal area, and you know that you’re going to put the house on the market in February, have photos taken in September, when the grass is still green and the trees have leaves.

Read the rest of the article on LearnVest.com.

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