Advice and Opinion

8 rookie mistakes to avoid when trying to sell your home

Elaine Chetty, Seeff, Richards Bay
Elaine Chetty.

Elaine Chetty, Licensee of Seeff Richards Bay, heads a team whose average age is 32 years and she says that if your home is struggling to catch the eye of a buyer, it could be for an entirely valid reason. “Maybe you’re stuck in a sluggish market or have the poshest place on the street (always a tough sell) – but there’s another possibility, too: your home could be sitting on the market because of a rookie selling mistake. All of us can make them, even those of us who actually have a few home sales under our belts.”

Chetty says that these basic slip-ups can easily be corrected or avoided, and lists some of the most common mistakes people make in trying to sell their home. Steer clear of these to avoid sabotaging your own sale.

  1. Overpricing your home

All sellers want to get top dollar for their house. Unfortunately many people overestimate the value of their home. For example, if a neighbour sells their house for R1 million, you might automatically assume that your house is worth at least that much – but that is not necessarily the case.

Price is the primary reason why a house doesn’t sell. The last thing you want to do is list too high right from the start, because it could cause your house to sit on the market, which might require you having to make a serious price reduction in order to sell it. If a home is on the market for more than four weeks, prospective buyers are going to assume that there is something wrong with it.

Your best approach is to listen to your reputable agent’s listing price recommendation, and try not to get too emotional if it isn’t as high as you’d hoped.

  1. Not budging on price

Even if the price is right, you might need to be flexible, especially if you’re in a buyer’s market. So, if you receive an offer that’s below list price, you should at least consider making a counter offer. After all, receiving R25 000 or R50 000 less for your house than what you wanted is a small concession in the long term.

  1. Doing a lousy job of cleaning

Let’s make this clear: your home needs to be spotless. That might mean hiring a professional cleaner to do a deep and thorough cleaning of the entire place, if needed. Clean out the clutter, because it distracts buyers in a big way. A clean house will also enable you to take great photographs for your listing.

  1. Using poor-quality photographs

Unless you’re an artist with the camera, you’ll want to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your home, because our statistics show that nearly 70% of home buyers start their search online. You can write a beautiful description, but people aren’t initially focusing on the description – they’re looking at the pictures.

  1. Leaving belongings in plain sight

You never know what type of buyer is going to look at your house. You don’t want anything that’s going to distract buyers!

  1. Lurking around at your own open house

This is a huge mistake for several reasons. If the buyer knows that the seller is there, they might feel uncomfortable asking the listing agent honest questions about the home. Buyers might also feel as if they’re intruding if you’re present. People like to open closet doors and look closely at the home without someone hovering over their shoulder.

  1. Making it difficult for agents to show your home

When selling your house, be prepared for little privacy. You’ll need to be flexible when buyers ask to see your home at short notice. It’ll be all worthwhile once you close the deal.

  1. Leaving pets at home during showings

Some people are simply scared of pets (yes, even your cute little pug), or they might have allergies that will make them want to steer clear. So don’t just crate your dog or cat during showings; instead, take them with you or drop them off with a neighbour while buyers are viewing the house. Make sure you stow their stuff in a cupboard or closet, and do a quick vacuum of pet hair before you go!