7 common home sales tactics that can backfire

When you list your home for sale, there are a lot of tactics you can put to use for attracting homebuyers and negotiating a quick and stress-free outcome. Some, like improving curb appeal and staging your home to look its best are good. Others, however, can actually harm your chances of a successful sale. Over the years I’ve seen what works, and what doesn’t, and rounded up the top 7 tactics to avoid the next time you put your home on the market.

#1: Haggling over repairs

Often, after an offer has been accepted and the buyer receives their inspection report, they will send a list of requested repairs to the seller. Some repairs are legitimate, but often buyers will send you their own personal wish list that goes above and beyond simple safety or functional issues. While you may feel that some of their requests are unnecessary, don’t be too quick to reject them all. Run the numbers and you might see that the cost of doing a few of the repairs they ask for is worth it when it comes to keeping the buyer happy and moving the sale forward.

#2: Trying to create a bidding war

Bidding wars are a home sellers’ dream. There’s nothing wrong with potential buyers feeling a sense of competition that can drive the price up. But be careful because mishandling this situation can easily backfire and leave you, the seller, on the losing end. If you receive multiple offers at the same time, an experienced Realtor on your side who has navigated this type of situation before is priceless. Here are a few pitfalls to watch out for that can turn a bidding war into a veritable battleground:

  • Setting an offer deadline that is too far away. Trying to draw more people in can seem greedy, make buyers nervous, and even result in them withdrawing their offers and leaving you with nothing.
  • Keeping buyers in the dark about how you will handle the situation. Set clear offer and acceptance deadlines, and keep communications open.
  • Ignoring a strong offer in an attempt to force weaker ones to increase their numbers and join in the game. A bird in the hand… well, you know the rest.

#3: Inflexible closing dates

Buyer and seller moving dates seldom line up perfectly. Your buyer may want to move in on a certain date in order for their kids to be ready for their new school. But it’s a week too early for the new home you will be moving to. Instead of digging in your heels and refusing to budge you might need to rent a hotel, stay with a friend, or take a short impromptu vacation to ensure the sale goes through.

#4: Getting too attached to “things”

Unless specified up front as a condition of the sale, custom fixtures, lighting, etc. are considered a part of the sale. If sellers fall in love with a special feature of the home and you decide after the fact that you’d rather take it with you, think carefully about how stubborn you want to be. This can cause trouble at the negotiation table. Avoid the situation altogether by removing or storing precious items that aren’t a part of the sale, or be willing to negotiate a replacement to keep both parties happy.

#5: Not paying closing costs

You’re almost done and then out of the blue, the buyer asks you to pay the closing costs. Don’t be too quick to say no. An experienced Realtor knows that there are several ways to handle this, from adjusting the offer to agreeing to a 2-way split. Again, do the math, and it might be worth it to ensure a smooth closing.

#6: Bad pictures

Between the internet and social media, nearly all potential buyers start their home search online and make snap judgements based purely on the photos they see. Blurry photos, dark images, and bad angles can torpedo interest in your home instantly, keeping potential buyers from ever crossing your doorstep.

#7: Overpricing

By far, one of the biggest mistakes sellers make is to set their home price too high. Do this, and you risk buyers skimming past your listing and looking for ones that are more in line with comparable homes in the area. Plus, homes that are overpriced tend to stay on the market longer, which makes buyers suspicious that there is something wrong with it. Working with an experienced Realtor is an invaluable resource for deciding on a fair price that offers the best of both worlds to both buyer and seller. Price it correctly and you’ll get people through the door and give them a chance to fall in love with it.

If you liked these tips, be sure to check out our article “6 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home,” for even more home-selling tips. And if you are interested in selling or buying a home in the Arlington, Virginia area, please give me a call at 703.593.6320. I’m here to help!