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Austin Real Estate Brokers 7 Ways to Sabotage the Sale of Your Home

1. Overprice it
Refuse to price the home at market value. Convince yourself your home is the best home in the neighborhood and should sell for more than surrounding homes. Overpricing a home almost guarantees the house will sit on the market for months, and after a while, the listing will become stale and lead prospective buyers to think there's something wrong with it. Hoping to find an uninformed buyer who doesn't realize your home is overpriced is just wishful thinking. Most buyers look at two dozen or more homes before they make an offer. If they were ignorant when they began shopping, they became educated after looking at several homes.

2. Fall in love with your home

"How dare they come in with an offer like that?" listing agents often hear from sellers. Don't they realize I just paid over $40 a square yard for that beautiful mauve carpet? If they don't like my house the way it is, let them go somewhere else!" An offer means someone is interested in your property. That's far more important than the amount offered. The fact that they're interested is more than half the battle. Now all you have to do is negotiate price and terms. Most buyers consider square footage a more reliable indicator of value than the fact that the master bathroom has marble tiles imported from Italy or that you had a local artist paint a mural on the living room wall.

3. Ignore (or hide) your home's true condition
Having an open house this weekend? Quick, paint over that water stain on the bathroom ceiling, cover that soft spot in the roof with a few new roof shingles, and rearrange the furniture to hide those carpet stains in the living room. Many problems are rooted in denial. Sellers can't look at their home objectively. They have a hard time seeing it as a buyer would. You truly don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. Most home buyers literally decide within seconds if they are interested in a property. Spending a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars getting a home in tip top condition not only makes it show and sell better, but you are likely to get much of the fix up costs back in a higher sales price.

Taking the easy way out by deducting repair funds from the seller at closing only invites disaster. Buyers always overestimate the costs either because of a lack of knowledge or a desire to use them as a negotiating strategy. Also, keep in mind that once it gets this far, every repair is going to be done by licensed contractors at their prices, not the actual expense you would have faced if you had fixed or painted it yourself.

4. Overvalue your sweat equity

Every potential buyer who walks through the door gets the full run-down: Driveway patched and re-sealed every spring; greenest lawn in the neighborhood; homemade built in cabinets in den; custom electronic closet organizer in master bedroom. Your list of extras and improvements goes on and on. Many sellers oversell the features of a home and overestimate the value of the work they have done on it.

5. Disregard the buyers' perspective
Refusing to work with the buyer's individual situation when negotiating a contract. For example, "If they can't wait five months until after the holidays to close, the deal is off." The right way: If you're getting a good price, be flexible when working out the terms. The No. 1 barrier to homeownership is lack of down payment. Many sellers don't realize that buyers need to come up with not only the 3 to 20 percent down payment, but also have to pay another 3 percent in closing costs, escrows, prepaid taxes and insurance. Offering to pay part or all of the closing costs is a lot more helpful to buyers than lowering the price. Bargain on price or terms, but not both.

6. Hide your neighborhood
Ok, so the neighborhood is falling down around you. So what? You've not only kept your home up, but you added a four-car garage, an olympic sized pool and gold plated your two story fountain. All the other homes advertised in the real estate magazines with your features are going for top dollar so hold out for your price. The right way: Keep in mind the oldest adage in the real estate game: Location, location, location. Many sellers fail to take into account the neighborhood. A $100,000 home in one neighborhood could sell for $80,000 to $130,000 in other neighborhoods. Most buyers prefer a diamond surrounded by other diamonds, not a diamond in the rough. If you are selling a diamond in the rough, be prepared to accept less. Just as you benefit from a good neighborhood, you will also be hurt by a marginal neighborhood.

7. Deal with unqualified buyers
Ed and Edna have just toured your FSBO open house and whip out a contract for you to sign at full price! What idiot wouldn't sign that? Answer -- the one who wants a closing rather than a worthless piece of paper. So many sellers fall into this trap, especially those not working with an agent. Accepting a contract from any prospective buyer, then finding out a month later they can't qualify for financing is an easily avoidable mistake. The right way: Insist that prospective buyers are pre-qualified before you accept a contract and earnest money from them. Mortgage brokers will do this over the phone for free, in less than 10 minutes. Next, insist that they make formal mortgage loan application within a few days of contract acceptance. Even then, continue to market your home, accepting backup offers and keeping names and numbers of prospective buyers in case the deal falls through.

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