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Mistakes to avoid when selling a house

By Beth Drucker

Many sellers today are looking to sell their homes to free cash that's tied up in their property. If you're trying to sell as quickly as possible, here are a few common mistakes you should avoid in order to able to successfully sell your house.

#1. Incrementally dropping your home's price

The first mistake to avoid is incrementally dropping your home's price. When you slowly decrease the price of your house you are signaling your desperation to the market, which will either lead most potential buyers to hold off, waiting for further drops, or to be wary of hidden costs, leading them to avoid your home altogether. The best way to handle pricing is to see how much a similar house is selling for, and price your own closely but below that value. Buyers will be excited to see a great house at a good price, and are likely to make an offer. Follow the advice of your broker, and make sure to get a good Comparative Market Analysis to base your judgment on.

#2. Too much clutter

Another mistake to avoid when selling your house is leaving around too much clutter. Before you show your house to any potential buyers, remove all your trash, put all your personal things away neatly, clear all tables and surfaces, and hide large objects that detract from your home's appearance. Real estate agents will often advise you that the buyer wants to see a clean and inviting house, and to be able to immediately feel comfortable in the house that they may buy. When a house is cluttered with random household knickknacks, personal effects, and miscellaneous items, it distracts home buyers from seeing the house's natural beauty, and if severe, will lead the buyer to think that the house has been poorly maintained.

#3. Strong odor

One of the biggest turnoffs to homebuyers is a smelly house. This one is especially important because no matter how beautiful the features are in your home, if a potential buyer is put off by a smell somewhere in your house, that displeasure will cloud all of their judgments about your home in a negative way, sending them to search for a house somewhere else. While preparing your home for selling, de-clutter and also de-odorize.

#4. Over-decorating

Similar to leaving too much clutter around your house, a common mistake in selling your house is putting too many style-specific decorations or personal touches throughout the home. Even though these decor choices are easy to change, they make an incredibly strong impression on homebuyers and make an otherwise great home less attractive to those who don't share your same taste. To be sure your personal style is not deterring homebuyers, lose the red walls, floral wallpaper, and retro-modern swivel chair, and opt for warm, neutral tones like brown, beige, grey, white, and wood tones.

#5. Bad listing photos (or none at all)

A bad mistake to make when selling your house would be to place a listing with poorly taken photos, or no photos at all. Unless your house gets a lot of foot traffic on its own, the listing is the first and sometimes only thing potential home buyers can use to see into your home and to decide if it is something worth taking a look at. Photos that don't highlight positive aspects of the home, and that have poor lighting and poor resolution, sends a message that the house is actually in poor condition and is not worth taking a look at. The lack of any photos at all in a listing sends the message that you, the seller, is either hiding something about the condition of the home, or are not serious about putting the house for sale. Take the time to place several well-lit photos of both the exterior and interior of your house in the home listing to improve your chances of successfully selling your house.

In general, when selling your house, it's important to understand the inherent value of your home, and to understand that that value won't always speak for itself - you have to put in effort to ensure that your house is being shown in the best way it possibly can be. Taking note of these mistakes to avoid will put your house in it's best light, giving you the best chance at getting your house sold.

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