Selling a house can be a bit like having a baby --
everyone gives you advice that you may or may not have asked
for, in spite of the fact that the experience is unique
to each individual every time. And just like having a baby,
there are many myths and "old wives' tales" to be de-bunked.
Among the truths are the following ten:
1. Myth: You should always price your home high and
gradually correct the sales price downward.
Truth: Pricing too high can be as bad as pricing
Your strategy in listing high may be that you will always
have the chance to accept a lower offer. But the truth is
that if the listing price is too high, you'll miss out on
a percentage of buyers looking in the price range where
your home should be. Offers may not even come in, because
the buyers who would be most interested in your home are
scared off by the price and won't even take the time to
look. By the time the listing price is corrected, you may
have already lost exposure to a large group of potential
buyers. Your real estate agent will be able to offer you
a comparable market analysis for your home. This is essentially
a document that compares your home to other similar homes
in your area, with the goal of helping you to accurately
assess your home's true market value.
2. Myth: Minor repairs can wait until later. There are
more important things to be done.
Truth: Minor repairs make your house more marketable,
allowing you to maximize your return (or minimize loss)
on the sale.
By and large, buyers are looking for an inviting home in
move-in condition. Buyers who are willing to tackle the
repairs after moving in automatically subtract the cost
of needed fix-ups from the price they offer. You save nothing
by putting off these items, and you may likely slow the
sale of your home.
3. Myth: Once potential buyers see the inside of your
home, curb appeal won't matter.
Truth: Buyers probably won't make it to the inside
of the home if the outside of your home does not appeal
Many buyers today will drive by a home before deciding
whether or not to look inside. Your home's exterior will
have less than a minute to make a good first impression.
Spruce up the view of the house by keeping the lawn mowed,
shrubs and trees trimmed, and gardens weeded and edged.
Clear the walkways and driveways of leaves and other debris.
Repair gutters and eaves, touch up the exterior paint, and
repair or resurface cracked driveways and sidewalks. You
can also add additional appeal by placing potted flowers
out front, hanging a wreath on the outside of the door,
positioning new street numbers, and putting out a pleasing
4. Myth: Once potential buyers fall in love with the
exterior look of your home, you put interior improvements
on the back burner.
Truth: Buyers have no qualms about walking right
out the front door within 60 seconds if the house doesn't
look like it could be theirs.
Remember that most buyers are looking for an inviting home
in move-in condition. You might consider spending a few
dollars on: painting, if the existing paint is in bad shape
or an unusual color; carpeting, if it shows excessive wear
or an outdated color or style; resurfacing kitchen
cabinets; scrubbing bathrooms until they are sparkling clean;
or several other key repairs or replacements. Although you
may be uncomfortable with spending a few thousand dollars
on your home right before you sell it, it's not uncommon
for the right work to more than pay for itself in a higher
selling price and shorter marketing time. Your real estate
agent will consult with you about the repairs and replacements
that will benefit you most.
5. Myth: Your home must be every home buyer's dream home.
Truth: If you get carried away with repairs and
replacements to your home, you may end up over-improving
At some point, improvements that you make to your home
can rise far above and beyond what is customary for comparable
homes in your area. For instance, there may not be another
swimming pool in your entire subdivision. After spending
$20,000 to install an in-ground swimming pool that you hope
will lure buyers, you may find that it only raises the market
value of your home by $10,000 because there are no other
comparable properties to support the market value of the
pool. As a rule of thumb, if your improvements push your
home's value higher than 20% above average neighboring home
values, don't expect to recoup the entire amount of improvements.
Your real estate agent can advise you as to the scope of
projects you might consider in preparing your house for
6. Myth: Buyers are unswayed by sellers that offer creative
Truth: By offering flexibility in financing options,
you may lure even more prospective buyers.
You might consider offering seller financing, paying some
of the buyer's closing costs, including a one-year home
warranty, or other buyer incentives. Your real estate agent,
who has professional knowledge of local market activity,
can help you decide what incentives, if any, to offer.
7. Myth: You are better off selling your home on your
own, thus saving the commission you would have paid to a
real estate agent.
Truth: Statistically, many sellers who attempt to
sell their homes on their own cannot consummate the sale
without the service of a professional real estate agent.
And those sellers who are successful in selling without
a real estate agent often net less from the sale than sellers
who use do a professional real estate agent. You probably
visit a doctor when you are in ill health. You also likely
take your car to a mechanic for repair and maintenance.
When you require legal advice, chances are that you seek
the services of an attorney. Doesn't it make sense that
you should contact a real estate professional when you are
preparing to sell your biggest asset?
8. Myth: Good sellers are available to guide prospective
buyers through the home, giving the whole process a more
Truth: Prospective buyers will feel more that "this
house could be" their home if the current owners are not
The presence of homeowners and/ or their family members
in the home while it is being previewed can make buyers
feel like they are intruding. They really do need to be
able to visualize this house as their home, which can be
difficult to do when they are acutely aware that it is still
your home. Your real estate agent will be happy to look
out for your home during open houses or showings.
9. Myth: Successful sellers insist that the terms of
the sale happen their way or no way.
Truth: If you approach the sale of your home as
an adversary of the buyer, you risk losing a perfectly solid
buyer for no good reason.
Always remember that both you and the buyer have the same
basic end goal: for you to sell your home and for the buyer
to buy your home. Your real estate agent will join you in
approaching negotiations in a positive frame of mind, which
often results in a win-win proposition for both you and
the buyer. And if both parties are satisfied with the outcome
of negotiations, very few things will come between you and
the closing table.
10. Myth: When you receive an offer, you should make
the buyer wait. This gives you a better negotiating position.
Truth: You should reply immediately to an offer!
When a buyer makes an offer, that buyer is, at that moment
in time, ready to buy your home. Moods can change, and you
don't want to lose the sale because you have stalled in