Sellers Behaving Badly: The Top 3 Ways to Turn Off a Buyer

Not all real estate transactions turn sour. In fact, few do. But once in a while, a bad apple ends up either selling or buying a home, and can throw the entire transaction into chaos.

From buyers allowing their children to run wild through a house they’re viewing to sellers trying to hide home defects, the potential to behave badly in a real estate transaction is ever-present.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways homeowners sabotage the sale of their homes.

Dirty Houses

If you’ve ever sold a car instead of trading it in, you probably spent some time spiffing it up: cleaning the upholstery, vacuuming the interior, washing and waxing the exterior. Why? Because you know that to get top dollar for the vehicle, it needs to look like a car worth paying top dollar for.

Yet so many homeowners don’t seem to understand the value of thoroughly cleaning their homes before putting them on the market. A home is the one thing most people own that is probably worth more than any other possession, but many don’t take the time to ensure that it brings top dollar in a sale.

A messy, cluttered house screams out to homebuyers that you don’t care. They may imagine that if you put off cleaning your house, you might have put off maintaining it as well. This, in turn, justifies lowball offers.

Clean the house until it is immaculate. If you don’t have the time, consider hiring professionals to do the job for you.

Overpriced Houses

Pricing your home over market value does not leave room for negotiation. It leaves your home sitting on the market for so long that homebuyers get the impression that there is something wrong with it.

When a new listing hits the MLS, it begins the “honeymoon” phase, with a flurry of showings. It’s during this phase that you are most likely to attract the highest offer. By overpricing the home, you are wasting this valuable marketing time, and the home may eventually end up listed for less than market value just to attract attention.

As special as we all think our homes are, they are not worth more than a buyer is willing to pay for them – which is market value. If your home is in good condition, yet still sits on the market for more than 30 days, your price is too high.

Failure to Disclose

If you’ve ever sold a home before, chances are good you are familiar with the disclosure process. If you aren’t familiar with the process, you will need to get up to speed before you respond to an offer to purchase.

As the seller, you are required to provide the buyer with any information about the house that might affect his or her desire to purchase it – including any material facts that might affect the home’s value or desirability.

For example, if you painted the ceiling to hide water stains, you wasted your time. Leaks must be disclosed to the buyer. The items that must, by law, be disclosed vary by state. California, for instance, has some of the most stringent disclosure requirements; such as deaths on the property, neighborhood problems like barking pooches or loud parties, and more. Environmental hazards must be disclosed, as well as known sex offenders in the area.

In other words, the very things you think might sabotage the sale must be disclosed to a potential buyer. Some sellers still keep secrets, which is a big mistake.

The penalty for nondisclosure? Big, fat lawsuits with big, fat payouts for the buyer. Sellers run the risk of having the contract rescinded as well.

No matter how tempted you are to keep quiet about problems with the home or the neighborhood, don’t do it. Disclose every defect that is not readily observable and that is significant to the home’s desirability. In other words, disclose everything.

There are few simple steps to avoid behaving badly when selling your home. Cleaning well, making small repairs and pricing the house right will bring in a buyer. Then treat that buyer with the respect the law demands, and you’ll have yourself a sale.

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