We’re approaching the busy Fall real estate season, so I thought it might be a good time to give a shout out to all those prospective San Francisco home sellers out there who are thinking of putting their homes on the market in September or October. I’ve been doing my job long enough to recognize good and bad seller strategies and decisions. So I thought I’d round up the bad ones to potentially make things smoother for some sellers this year.
Here are my top five home seller mistakes. Avoid them if you can:
1. Trying to save money by eliminating staging. There was a time when properties were flying off the shelf, whether they were vacant, featured unmade beds in the photos or had someone home watching television during broker tours. Those days are gone. Buyers want to see some effort on the part of sellers. It’s important to take pride in how your home shows to agents and buyers, and investing in things like landscaping, painting and hauling clutter are equally as important as staging. Plus, staging costs aren’t as high as they were when the market was hot. So you can probably get a decent deal from a quality stager.
2. Immediately hiring the high-volume neighborhood specialist as your listing agent. Yes, you’ve seen his or her name plastered all over your neighborhood. But it’s worth noting that sometimes, home sellers take the path of least resistance, which factors into their decision making. Most agents in San Francisco sell in multiple neighborhoods, and know the micro markets well. Your listing agent decisionmaking should absolutely factor in local market knowledge, but don’t forget about the rest. Marketing and technology platforms, solid agent networks and service levels should be priorities. If your listing agent can’t produce an outline of what he or she is planning to do from start to finish, it might be time to consider other options. And more importantly, make sure your agent isn’t the type to railroad you into accepting an offer that may not provide the most beneficial price and terms just so he or she can move on to the next transaction.
3. Pricing your home too high. This seems obvious, but it isn’t. You talk with multiple agents, they essentially show you all the same sets of comparative sales, and you decide that your home should be priced above those averages. Yes, your home is nicer than most. But buyers are looking for value, and homes priced well over the average price ranges in the neighborhood will most likely sit. You’ll then have to go through price reductions and the reality that your listing is getting stale. Keep it fresh from the start with a list price that will attract buyers—and possibly multiple offers.
4. Ignoring the first reasonable offer that comes in. You put your home on the market, and within a week, your agent is presenting you with a solid offer from qualified buyers at a reasonable price. But you think you might want to hold out for more interest, so you take a pass and wait for all those other buyers to materialize. Unfortunately, they don’t, and now you’ve lost your first and only good offer. Of course there’s always a chance new buyers can emerge. But there’s certainly something to be said about seizing the day.
5. Being satisfied with a minimal marketing program. As I mentioned before, marketing strategies are crucial to a successful sale. Make sure your agent and his or her company are in a position to really make a splash when they market your home. Connecting with your targeted buyer demographic is critical; about 90% of prospective home buyers are doing online searches. If the buyers you’re trying to reach aren’t impressed with what they see online, you can bet they won’t visit your home during their crammed open house tours. And they need instant access to relevant property facts (QR codes, anyone?).