Everyone makes mistakes—even the most seasoned real estate professionals. Perhaps what sets the great listing agents apart from the not-so-great ones is that that they learned from their mistakes early on.
Here are six common home-selling mistakes that new real estate agents face:
- Mispricing a Home. Especially at the upper end, mispricing a home can end in disaster for the seller. Agents who specialize in luxury homes have to know how to price those homes. Hear what Michalene Lanzito-Melges, who was with Keefe Real Estate (Lake Geneva, Wis.), warns how agents who don’t manage their clients’ expectations and don’t go the extra mile to price a home accurately could seriously damage their reputations. “The most common mistake I see homeowners make,” says Lanzito-Melges, “is to mistrust the figures the broker or the appraiser shows them and insist on listing the property at a price they feel in their heart is right. “For example, you might insist that your house is worth $2 million when your broker advises that $1.75 million is closer to reality. If you insist on listing it at $2 million, it’s likely that you’ll have to adjust the price downward in a few weeks—and perhaps by that time, the peak selling season will have passed, and a home that might have been snapped up immediately for $1.75 million will languish during the off-peak months at $1.5 million. “When I list a property and it isn’t sold within 30 days, it’s because of the price. Period.” Readjusting the price is an expensive process, Lanzito-Melges says. When you adjust the price of a home, you don’t just revise the listing; you have to relaunch your entire marketing program, including the website. She advises hosting a special “broker open” event if forced to reintroduce a property, but admits it’s tough to get agents to attend these.
- Skipping the Pre-Listing Inspection. Not going the extra mile to determine the right price is another common-home selling mistake. If the home is in a neighborhood where there haven’t been any recent sales, and/or the property is unusual for that neighborhood, comps might be sketchy and might paint an inaccurate picture. Agents should insist that the seller get the home into tip-top shape, and have it inspected, before listing it. The seller will sometimes dispute the inspector if something comes up as “substandard.” Of course, if the seller disagrees with the inspector, they should tell you—but they need to know that the inspector’s word is final.
- Poor Timing. Agents should also be certain that this is the right time for the client to sell. If they sell now, will they be hit with a tax event that they could avoid by waiting? Are they really eager to sell, and motivated, or will they be content to let the house linger on the market - which is to no one’s benefit. Will they be ready to move out quickly, if necessary? Do they have a deadline?
- Providing Unexceptional Home Staging. Poor staging of the house is another common mistake. Each room should have some furniture and decoration, but it shouldn’t look like it belongs to anyone. Also, agents must remember to sell the outside of the home as well as the inside. Many agents forget about a home’s curb appeal, so they don’t bother to suggest making the lawn, porch, garage and deck look beautiful; and then, worse, post inferior photos when they should have hired a professional photographer who knows how to make a home look good on the internet.
- Offering Mediocre Advertising. As soon as a home is ready to be put on the market, but before it’s listed, the agent should have a list of several potential buyers or broker contacts and should call them in person. Equally important, though, is to use all marketing avenues—especially the internet—to the fullest.
- Keep Sellers Away During Showings. It’s best that sellers absent themselves for showings. Buyers and brokers are uncomfortable when the seller or the listing agent is present and will not linger as long if someone else is following them around. Also, it’s annoying when sellers insist on commenting on ‘their’ home or making suggestions as to how a certain room or feature might be used. Instead, you want to make prospective buyers feel that the home is already theirs.