5 home selling mistakes owners can’t stop making

By Property Soul

After I published my last blog post “5 property buying mistakes buyers can’t stop making”, reader cobweb left a comment asking me for “5 mistakes sellers make”.

As an obliging blogger, I immediately answered his request with my next post titled “5 home selling mistakes owners can’t stop making”.

I have been to hundreds of flat viewings, bought five private homes and sold four of them. The following is the learnings based on my observations of home sellers and my experience as one. If you are planning to let go of your property, please avoid making these common home selling mistakes.

Mistake #1: You don’t bother to touch up your place.

Opening your house to prospective home buyers is like going for job interviews or first dates. You dress up to leave a good first impression.

Here is a simple to-do list to follow in terms of priorities:

1. Arrange for a whole-house cleaning to get rid of dirt and odour.

2. Give it a new coat of paint in neutral colors with good quality paint.

3. Change old wallpapers, rugs and mats.

4. Replace old lamps and light switches.

5. Polish the marble and parquet floorings.

6. Update old doors and windows.

7. Give the kitchen and bathroom a new look.

Remember how your mother told you to ‘tidy up now’ when you were a kid? This is a must before every viewing appointment. Same thing for fixing anything broken. You don’t want potential buyers to use it as an excuse to bargain on prices.

Show buyers what they love to see, not what you or your previous tenant left behind. Give them room to imagine how they will enjoy living in your place, not what they need to fix before they move in.

When my property agent helped me to market my properties last time, she would do the following before she opened my place for viewing:

1. Arrive at least fifteen minutes earlier to open all the windows and doors to allow fresh air to come in.

2. Check for any bad odour and fix it. Spray the whole flat with an air refresher.

3. Close the windows and turn on all the lights and air-conditioners.

4. Make the place look as clean and tidy as possible before any visitor comes.

Mistake #2: You think you can do it yourself.

You may be in sales, but selling a property is a totally different matter. Ask yourself the following questions before you decide to DIY:

• Do you have the time and energy to sell your property?

• Can you handle the questions and requests from buyers?

• Are you able to screen genuine buyers?

• Do you have good selling and negotiation skills?

I know an acquaintance who once arranged a flat viewing on her own. A guy with good manners and dressed like an executive showed up. After they stepped inside her unit, he said the wind was too strong and closed the main door behind him. When she showed him one of the bedrooms, he revealed that it’s a robbery, then tied her hands and taped her mouth. Fortunately, he only took her valuables.

Doing the right thing is more important than doing things right. Find a professional property agent to help you market your home, instead of wasting your time learning or trying to be one. A middleman can work wonders to bag a better deal in negotiations. Learn how to tell good property agents from bad ones.

You should also make an effort to be “absent” during a flat viewing. Even if you have nothing to do, try not to linger around. Go somewhere nearby for a coffee. Because the presence of the owner kills the imagination of buyers trying to picture themselves living in their new home. Worse still, you might mistakenly say something wrong that blows up the deal.

Mistake #3: You think you have the best unit in town.

Everybody thinks their home is the best. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You would be surprised of the big gap between how owners see their home versus the real worth of their properties.
Some ignorant sellers price their home way above market price, hoping to find an equally ignorant buyer who would pay a premium for their unit for nothing.

Setting a high price works nothing to boost the value of your property. Instead, you are telling buyers three things:

1. You are an insincere seller who just wants to put the property in the market to test the waters.

2. You are an outsider of real estate who knows nothing about the current market situation.

3. You are opening yourself to lowball offers which can be upsetting and humiliating.

Before you set the asking price, do yourself a favor and have a quick search online. Check at least two things: 1) latest transactions of your project at the URA website and 2) valuation or X-value of your home at the SRX portal.

Mistake #4: You let good offers slip by.

You receive a reasonably good offer from a buyer. But you think the better ones will be coming soon. So you decide to leave your property in the market for a longer while. But the next good offer either comes longer than expected, or it never happen. The D-word changes from delight to desperate.

It is justified to wait for some time for a good offer. But don’t leave it on the shelf for too long.

Marketing properties is like selling fresh fruit and vegetables – the longer they are on the shelves, the lower the chance to be sold at a good price.

Some savvy buyers won’t waste time bargaining when the seller is firm on the asking price. They wait patiently until the property is unsold for some time and come back for an offer.

I bought my current home in a similar way. The property agent said there were interested parties. The owner was unlikely to lower the price. So I didn’t offer after I viewed the place.

A few months later, I saw the ad of the same property and arranged for a second viewing.

The attitude of the agent was completely different from the first time. A buyer who offered to pay the asking price was appealing after his application to buy the house was rejected by the authority. The agent was tired of helping the owner to maintain an empty house for the past year. He couldn’t wait to sell it off.

What a great opportunity for me! At the end, we got our home at $25,000 below the original offer.

Mistake #5: You fail to sell in time.

If you bought an overpriced property at the wrong time, or you have stretched yourself financially, and you foresee the market won’t improve in the near future, don’t hesitate to cut loss.

Come to terms with making a loss in your investment. The waiting game is painful and testing for both your financial strength and your mental endurance. You may not be able to see the day you recoup your loss.

It is critical you know when to sell at a good price at the right time. Remember, an elegant exit requires advance planning.

Property investment is like public speaking. A good speaker always knows the best time to end and leave the stage in time.

Savvy investors always know when to exit, wait for the next cycle and re-enter the market again for the next round of profit.

They make their money, offload their asset to the next buyer and move on. They understand very well that, in property, you make money by ensuring the next buyer can make a profit. Otherwise, it is too late to sell.

When is the best time to sell?
When you see that amateurs are starting to speculate in where you put your money; when you hear people who know little about properties boast about their good buys; and when you see headlines about property prices setting new highs again, you know it’s time to get out.

This article was first published on Propertysoul.com and reproduced with permission

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