Let it go! 7 seller beliefs that no longer hold true today
When it comes to real estate, people still hold on to a host of tired, old-school beliefs that are hard to shake off. Here is how the process actually works today.
1. ‘If I price it high, they will still come’
Despite the emphasis on pricing correctly the first time, many sellers still subscribe to the idea that they can price a property as they want, and buyers will come to see it. After all, they can always reduce the price later, and a buyer can still make an offer, right?
Unfortunately, this theory does not play out as a seller expects. The home usually sits with little showing traffic, and the feedbank is that it’s overpriced. When this happens, the seller comes up with a million other reasons as to why the home is not getting the attention it deserves from the marketing, property descriptions, photos, video, where it turns up on consumer search sites, etc.
The reality is, when you price a home too high, the buyers that are looking in the same price range as the home can afford more and usually want something else. You risk eliminating the very buyers the home would be an ideal fit for.
The price sends a signal to potential buyers and agents as to what kind of seller you are — realistic or unrealistic, flexible or difficult. Savvy agents are quite astute at reading the tea leaves and can often decipher a situation based on the pricing.
2. ‘Open houses bring ready, willing and able buyers’
Before the proliferation of the internet, open houses were heavily relied upon as a marketing tool to generate potential buyers. COVID-19 aside, buyers are more aware than ever of properties for sale as a result of listings syndicating from the MLS to several hundred websites. Their phones chime with the latest market activity on properties.
Although buyers have attended open houses during pre-pandemic times and may be venturing out in those markets that are actually hosting them, the reality is that most open houses tend to bring out more curiosity seekers and neighbors than buyers who’re ready to buy now.
3. ‘Why do I need to substantially improve my home before putting it on the market? It is what it is’
Ah, the great debate over what to fix, change and improve before putting a home on the market. The agent’s recommendations can seem endless. Many sellers still believe they shouldn’t have to do those things or not nearly to the level of what their agent is suggesting.
As a seller, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If you start off on the market on the wrong foot, you’ll have a very difficult time capturing buyers who would’ve been interested in your home had you done the nessecary prep recommended by your agent.
Failing to properly prepare your home for sale may communicate the message your home isn’t maintained and is in need of a lot of repairs. It makes the buyer wonder what else may be seriously wrong that they can’t see.
Interest and attention is always at its peak when a property first hits the market. Therefore, a poor first impression will not generate the excitement and motivation for buyers to run over to see the house and make an offer.
4. ‘Show me the money’
Many sellers still believe that whatever improvements they have put into their home automatically translates into a higher selling price. The reality is, the market will never pay you dollar for dollar for the improvements you’ve made, and some things might be too taste-specific to motivate a buyer to pay more.
Pools are a great example of this. It’s no secret that the cost of building a pool can easily hit $100,000 or more, based on size, the type of decking, screen, heater, whether or not it has an in-ground spa, etc.
Although a pool does provide some value, an appraiser will not add the cost the seller incurred in building the pool to the overall value of the home. It may only be given a third or half of the price to build it, depending on what is typical for the area and the neighborhood.
5. ‘More repairs?’
Many sellers still balk at the idea that a buyer might come at them with a repair request after inspections. They’ll argue that their home isn’t new, and if a buyer wants a new space, they should go buy one.
It can be difficult for sellers to understand that if they won’t work with a buyer on repairs, they could easily lose them during the inspection contingency period. The added stigma of a home coming back on the market after inspections is never a good thing, and it tends to raise eyebrows as to what happened.
6. ‘More marketing means more buyers willing to pay my price’
When a home isn’t selling, sellers might think they need more marketing. However, they often can’t really quantify what that means and don’t understand what tactics may or may not get tangible results.
Sometimes, they have outdated beliefs as to what should make the phone ring off the hook with buyers. (Making the phone ring is an outdated belief within itself since people engage with agents in all sorts of ways.) Newspaper and magazine ads? Billboards? Flyers? Postcards?
The bottom line is that all the marketing in the world won’t attract the right buyers if the home is overpriced, doesn’t show well or looks unattractive in photos and video.
7. ‘Every buyer who sees my home must want to buy it’
We wish. If only it were that straightforward. Some buyers are more specific and definitive than others. Some can articulate exactly what they want, while others have to use the property search to get some clarity on what’s important to them.
If the buyer is a couple, there’s a chance they might not be on the same page — which makes the house hunt all that more difficult. Also, buyers are in varying stages of their search. A buyer who is initially exploring an area is likely going to take more time compared to someone who’s familiar with it.
Some buyers are on shorter time frames to make a decision, while others might be planning on taking their time. While it would be great if every buyer that saw a seller’s house was ready, willing and able to buy it right this minute, the reality is, it’s typically a process of elimination.
The good news for sellers is that, given the current COVID-19 climate, buyers looking at homes for sale are likely more serious, ready, willing and able now compared to pre-pandemic times. Given what’s involved with showing properties today — safety precautions, travel restrictions, general hesitation and uncertainty — buyers are more focused on what they want. They’re making decisions in a shorter period of time.