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9 Real Estate Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1 – Using A Real Estate Agent Instead of a Realtor

When you’re looking for help buying or selling property, it’s important to remember that the terms “Real Estate Agent” and “Realtor” are not synonymous.  Realtors provide an extra level of service.  To be a Realtor, you must be a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  NAR is a non-profit trade organization that promotes real estate information, education, and professional standards.  The National Association of Realtors has also earned a strong reputation for actively championing private property rights and working to make home ownership affordable and accessible.  NAR members adhere to a strict code of ethics founded on the principle of providing fair and honest service to all consumers.  Realtor business practices are monitored at local board levels.  Arbitration and disciplinary systems are in place to address complaints from the public or board members.  This local monitoring keeps Realtors directly accountable to the individual consumers they serve, and therefore the consumer is more likely to find better service and accountability by using a Realtor.

Mistake #2 – Complacent Marketing When Selling a Home

When selling your home, there are no guarantees that the ultimate buyer of your home will simply walk through your front door.  In many cases, you may have to bring your home to the buyer.  Effective marketing will help ensure that your property receives maximum exposure to attract a ready, willing and able buyer in the shortest period of time.  Ask your Realtor to provide a written list of all the ways he or she intends to market your home, and on what time-line.  Also, be sure to ask about your home being advertised on the Internet.

Mistake #3 – Taking for Granted the Curb Appeal Of Your Home

When you’re preparing your house for sale, remember the importance of first impressions.  A buyer’s first impression can make or break whether they even want to go inside for a look.  It is estimated that more than half of all houses are sold before the buyers even get out of their car.  With that in mind, be sure to stand outside of your home and take a realistic fresh look and then ask yourself what can be done to make the curb appeal improve.  Also, ask your Realtor’s opinion as to how to improve the curb appeal of your home.  It could make a huge difference in your final sales price and/or the time it takes to sell

Mistake #4 – Forgetting About Health and Safety Issues
Be up front and disclose to your Realtor any problems with the property.  Most issues will be discovered at the time of home inspection.  A decade ago, health and safety issues were rarely a part of the typical real estate transaction.  Today however, it’s common for inspections relating to health, safety, and even environmental concerns to be a part of most sales contracts.  In many states, the seller must disclose to the buyer any knowledge of existing property problems.  These issues have been or can be factored into the home‘s listing price.
Mistake #5 – Failing to Look at Your Home Through the Buyer’s Eyes
Remember that people have different personalities and likewise, tastes.  However, they tend to be the same when it comes to expectations at someone else’s expense.  In other words, a prospective buyer likes to see a perfect home from top to bottom and inside and out.  Pretend you are a prospective buyer looking at the home for the very first time, does the home pass your “critical-eye, perfection” test?
Try to do as many of the following items as possible to improve the likelihood of an expedient home sale:
On the outside:
·      Sweep front walkway
·      Remove newspapers, bikes and toys
·      Park extra cars away from the property
·      Trim back the shrubs
·      Apply fresh, clean paint to the front door and where needed on the exterior
·      Make sure roof and gutters are clean and in good condition
·      Mow the lawn frequently and plant flowers
·      Keep pet areas clean
On the inside:
·      The kitchen and bathroom should shine
·      Quick once-over with the vacuum; carpets should be clean
·      Place fresh flowers in the main rooms
·      Put dishes away, unless setting a formal display for decoration
·      Make all beds and put all clothes away
·      Clean windows and window coverings throughout
·      Keep plumbing and all appliances in working order
·      Maintain all sealant (window, tub, shower, sink, etc.) in good condition
·      Open drapes and turn on lights for a brighter feel
·      Straighten and declutter closets
·      Put toys away
·      Turn off all TVs
·      Play soft music on the radio/stereo
·      Keep pets out of the way and pet areas clean and odor-free
·      Secure jewelry, cash, prescription medication and other valuables
·      Enhance the spaciousness of each room
Mistake #6 – That You Need to Be In The Home To Explain Things To A Prospective Buyer
You will be better served if you allow a Realtor to do their job without you there.  Most potential buyers feel more comfortable if they can speak freely to their real estate professional without the owners being present.  If people are unaccompanied by an agent, and request to see your property, you should refer them to your real estate professional for an appointment.
Mistake #7 – Not Knowing How to Price Your Home To Sell
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is determining the correct price.  It’s one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate agent can more than pay for itself.  Listing the home too high can be as bad as too low.  If the listing price is too high, you’ll miss out on buyers looking in the price range where your home should be.  This is the flaw in thinking that you will always have the opportunity to accept a lower offer.  Chances are the offers won’t even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price and will not take the time to look.  By the time the price is correct, you have already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers.  The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling.  It’s critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving – both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer.  Again, an experienced, well-trained agent is always in touch with market trends, often to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as-is, at this point in time.
Mistake #8 – Not Planning Your Move Early Enough
Many sellers simply don’t plan their move early enough and are totally overwhelmed when it’s time to move.  If you are able to move at any time of the year, don’t wait until summer during peak-moving season.  Consider that the first and last few days of the month are extra busy.  If you plan to sell your house, get it on the market as soon as possible.  Keep a record of all expenses related to the move, some may be tax deductible.  Fill out a Personal Household Inventory for each room.  This is important for establishing the amount of declared valuation for the shipment and as a permanent inventory for insurance purposes.  List belongings accordingly, year of purchase and original cost of each item as close as possible and to the best of your knowledge.  Attach any invoices or records of purchase to the completed inventory.  Prepare a separate high-value inventory if the shipment will contain articles of extraordinary value.  The following list includes items that might fall into this category:
  • Antiques
  • Art Collections
  • Cameras
  • China Collections
  • Computer Equipment
  • Crystal
  • Figurines
  • TVs or Stereos
  • Firearms
  • Jewelry
  • Manuscripts
  • Oriental Rugs
  • Silver
  • Stones or Gems
  • Tapestries  
Also, unless you have been given a binding moving estimate where a firm cost is established in advance, the exact cost of a move cannot be determined until after the shipment has been loaded on the van and weighed.  The weight on which charges are based is calculated by weighing the van before and after loading.  The total cost of the move will include transportation charges, any charges for declared valuation, plus charges for any extra services performed at your request.  These charges are based on tariff rate schedules.
Mistake #9 – Using A “Convenient” Realtor Rather Than Using an Experienced Realtor
When working with a real estate agent, it’s critical that you have full confidence in that agent’s experience and education.  A skilled, knowledgeable agent will be able to explain what your home should be priced at, given recent listings and sales of homes similar to yours.  Experienced agents also know exactly what the current pool of buyers are looking for in relation to particular styles and price ranges of properties.  A skilled agent can recommend changes that will enhance the salability of your home, thus increasing the price, and/or decreasing the length of time before a sale.
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