Avoiding the Seven Most Expensive Errors When Selling Your Home

Whatever the reason for your sale, placing your home on the market always involves a modicum of strain and stress.  After all, your home isn’t just a building.  And it’s not simply a financial investment.  No matter how long you’ve lived in the home, for six months or 30 years, your home is a place of memories.  It’s been the place where everyone you love are always welcome.

Almost inevitably though, the day will arrive when you must move on; and the house can’t move on with you.  When the time comes to sell you home, it can feel emotionally overwhelming at first, but it’s important to reflect, and appreciate the past, while preparing to create a bright and happy future.

No matter what your motivations are for selling your home, I can help you accomplish this goal without the dreaded frustrations and disturbances in your life.  After all, in the end, the target is always the same: to sell your home for the most amount of money and in the least amount of time.  This post will hopefully answer some questions you may have about the home selling process.

Don’t make the the errors made by so many other sellsers..  Take advantage of this report, and learn other people’s mistakes and save time, money, and frustration.

As you prepare to sell your property, there are a great many things to consider to be sure that you’re prepared and organized.  Before getting started, take a look at these seven common, expensive errors and make sure that YOU don’t make these same mistakes.

Knowing the potentially costly problems that can ariase while selling your home is the best way to prevent them BEFORE they happen!

Error #1:

Failure to Prepare Your Home’s Appearance for the Buying Eye

When buyers look at a property, they are looking for a home, NOT a house. Impressions and emotions are vital to a buyer’s decision-making process. They are seeking a certain feeling, a place in which they’d be comfortable living. So if you want to sell your home, give the buyer that feeling that they are “home.” Let’s examine the emotional factors influencing the choices made by the buyer. Emotions are one of, if not the most important factor for swaying a buyer’s opinion for or against a property. It is the emotional response that decides whether the logic should start to function. Remember, buyers will be looking at many homes, often professionally decorated homes. So it’s critical to make your home compete, to make the best impression possible.


A Home for Living and a Home for Selling Are Completely Different Environments

To sell your home, it must look very different from the way it looks when you are living there. Think about it; when you watch your favorite sitcom, the family’s house doesn’t look like yours, but you automatically believe that it functions that way. It has been specifically designed to make your eye see it as a regular, everyday, livable home. What makes your job a bit more challenging than the sitcom set designers is that you have three other senses to appeal to. Don’t worry though; it’s easier than you think! Here are a few tried and true tips for showcasing your home for sale:

  • The first impression is the decision maker for a buyer. The first impression is the one that will last, and it cannot be made twice. Make sure you know what a buyer is looking for. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes before the buyer ever takes a step inside. Get into your car go for a quick drive and then return to your home as if you were coming to see it for the first time. Take a good look at the house and the property. How does it look? Is the landscaping neat? Are there stains in the driveway? Does it look cluttered? Remember, the buyer is seeking the appearance of a well-maintained property. Give it to them!
  • Look at the outside of your home. How is the paint, the trim, even the color – is it chipping, fading, out of style for two decades? Does the roof look healthy? What is the first thing you notice as you approach your home?
  • Tour your own home. Concentrate on the impression of your senses: smell, touch, sight, and hearing. Walk through each and every room while focusing on these senses. Be sure to keep an eye and nose ready for flooring and carpet stains and odors.
  • De-Clutter. If it’s not essential, put it away. Pack up any extra furniture, appliances, dishes and knick-knacks. Your home should appear neat, fresh, orderly and be easy for the buyer to imagine moving their belongings into. The buyer will expect the garage to be full of storage, but it will only pass the test if it is also clean and neat.
  • Give your home a thorough and deep cleaning. You may even want to consider hiring a professional cleaning service.  For the difference it makes in rooms, especially the kitchen, the bathrooms and the bedrooms, you’ll be assured a faster sale and a better selling price for your home.
  • Pets can often be the anti-sale. Make sure that they cannot be seen or smelled by the buyer. Take the pet out of the house when the buyer is there, and take extra care to remove the pet’s odor. Remember, you’re accustomed to it, but it is very present to the buyer who is nitpicking for their future home.
  • A bright and well-lit room is a must for buyers. Before the buyer gets there, open all blinds and curtains and turn on all lights. Note: at night, do the same thing, but keep the blinds and curtains closed in front for privacy while keeping them open to the pretty parts of the yard, thus making your living space look larger.
  • Turn off all appliances and noise-makers such as the television, the radio, ice-makers in your fridge (if you have one) and anything that will distract the buyer’s attention from your home.


Error #2:

Selling Your Home for the Wrong Price

Of course, every seller wants to make as much money as possible when they sell their home, and it is natural to lean towards a high price, with the intention of reducing the price in the future if you don’t attain that dream price. However, listing your house for a price that is much too high will usually result in selling your home for far less than if you had attempted to sell at the market price to begin with. The reason for this is simple: Price is usually a paramount factor for buyers when searching for a new home.  If your property is listed out of the price range for buyers who are most likely to purchase your listing, it’s unlikely they will ever step foot in your home, because they couldn’t afford to purchase it at the listed price.  This is commonly referred to as “pricing yourself out of the market.” To make matters worse, Real Estate Agents have a natural tendency to want to show their clients the newest homes on the market in hopes of snatching up a gem before anyone else has the chance to act.  This means that even when you reduce your listing price after 30 days of being on the market with no offers, Agents may automatically look past your property because it has “gone stale” so to speak.  You’ll have to consider a deep discount on price to regenerate buzz around your property.  You’re now selling your home for much less than you could have if you had priced it correctly from the beginning. Keeping your house on the market for that long has also cost you money. You’d pay more interest on your mortgage, more property taxes, insurance, and all the other carrying costs associated with owning a house that is waiting to sell. Not to mention the added stress of having your home on the market. What’s that worth?

Fact: As the Seller, You are Solely Responsible For The Price and the Time it Takes to Sell Your Home

Overpricing will undoubtedly increase the length of time it takes to sell your home. Consequently, overpricing also leads to the increase in your carrying costs of the unsold home. That’s why I’ve created a program for you, to provide a complete, no obligation evaluation of your home. I provide you with a real-world home value analysis. This analysis is based entirely on verifiable facts and figures that will be explained to you at every step. I will also carefully inspect your home to identify any areas where investing a small amount of money will produce a definite advantage in the sales price. No tricks; no false hopes, no puffed up schemes. I will share with you the facts about today’s market so you can determine what your home will sell for. I will show you precisely how to “dress up” or “stage” your home in order to appeal to the vast market. My exclusive marketing plan will assist you with:

  • Asking the right price to maximize profitability.
  • Define and compare market value between homes.
  • Marketing your home to its maximum exposure.
  • Protecting yourself from crime when selling your home.
  • Handling buyers during a showing, to gain the advantage for the highest price.
  • Negotiating the best sale and terms on your behalf.

Understanding these issues will allow you to assign the best price to your home for the fastest and most profitable sale. It will also give you the knowledge you need for buying homes in the future, as you will know the perspective of the buyer, the seller and the market.

Error #3:

Placing a Limit on the Exposure of Your Home

Everyone knows that the most evident of marketing devices in real estate – classified ads and open houses – have their advantages, but they are limited in their rewards. To be successful when marketing your home requires a great deal more. You may be surprised to know that less than 1 percent of homes are sold as a result of an open house. Real Estate Agents use open houses as a tool for attracting buying prospects, not to actually sell the house. Equally as surprising, is that less than 3 percent of people have purchased their home because they saw it in an ad. It is precisely for that reason that the most competent Agents will use a wide range of marketing techniques, which emphasize the unique marketing solutions for your home and your area. I have an unparalleled marketing plan for selling your home. If you like, I’ll share with you the elements of my strategy, at your request and convenience.

Error #4:

Working Under the Impression that Your Appraisal Is Equal to the Market Value of Your Home

What an appraisal provides you with is a statement of value for a reason entirely separate from the actual selling value of your home. The purpose of an appraisal is usually for financial institutions that desire mortgage and loan information. Therefore in an appraisal prepared for a money lender, there may be issues other than simple market value that will come into play. They have different goals in their appraisal. On the other hand, a buyer will look at factors such as foreclosures, distressed sales, bankruptcies, divorces and fluctuations in the area. The perceived value by the buyer will therefore be somewhat different than that of a financial institution. To assist you, I can provide you with all for the information you require to make a reliable, realistic valuation of market value for your home. To do this, I will gather information about your specific area for: recently sold homes (market history), pending homes or homes under contract (market activity), homes for sale (competition) and expired listings (market rejects). I will answer any questions you may pose about your own house and its value, using true market facts.

Error #5:

Being Unaware of Your Rights And Obligations

The laws and regulations of real estate can be complex if you are uninformed or you do not understand your rights and responsibilities. A contract for the sale of your property is just that, a contract. It is therefore legally binding and not to be taken lightly. If you are unaware of what you are signing, or if you do not understand the contents of the contract, you can run into some very serious problems with the sale of your property, and resolution of such problems can be very costly. Before you sign anything, know what repairs and closing costs you will be bound to within the terms of the contract. You must know if your contract allows you to sell the home in its current state, or if there are issues such as deed restrictions or local zoning restrictions that will alter the rules of sale for your property. Also, be sure to have a proficient review of your title, to be sure there are no “Clouds on Title” inhibiting you from a sale. If left up to you to remedy these issues, you may spend up to thousands on unanticipated legal bills, fines, contractors, and other costs. A competent Real Estate Agent can help you identify and avoid these issues before they become “problems.”

Error #6:

The Signing of a Listing Agreement Without a Way Out!

Real estate agents almost universally have good intentions for assisting you in selling your home. But the life circumstances of a real estate agent can greatly affect those intentions. Personal problems, a career change, money issues or a decision to retire are all possible occurrences that could mean that the agent isn’t looking out for your best interests. Maybe you’re not getting the exposure you expected. Or perhaps you haven’t heard from your agent in a while and cannot seem to contact them. What then? You will, of course, want to fire your agent, should this occur. And you should be able to…but the contract you have signed binds you to the broker, not the agent him/herself. Therefore, if you are unhappy with one agent, the broker may assign another one. Someone you have not personally selected, nor someone you desire. But because of your contract, you remain trapped with that agent and that broker until the contract expires. Quite an expensive and frustrating error! Protect yourself! Here’s how:

  • Be extremely choosy and careful when selecting a Real Estate Agent
  • Be prepared for the worst, and make sure that your listing agreement allows you to cancel if it is your wish.

That is precisely why I offer a 100 percent guarantee of my services. My priorities are your priorities. I want your home to sell for as much as possible, as fast as possible. And, if at any time, you should be unhappy with my services, don’t hesitate to let me know. If I cannot remedy the issue to your satisfaction, you are well within your rights to fire me! No questions. No hassles. No headaches. Ever!


Error #7:

Choosing the Wrong Real Estate Agent

All Agents are not created equal, so it’s essential to find the one who can best suit your needs. A Real Estate Agent with vast experience and extraordinary professionalism usually costs the same as one with little or even no experience, or one who has compromising standards. Find out about these issues before getting started; before signing anything. Competence and experience will certainly mean the difference between a higher negotiated sales price and the loss of money, selling in a small amount of time or a long, dragged out process. It is the difference between a pleasurable experience and a nightmare. Don’t let just anyone take responsibility for the sale of your home. It is, after all, the most important financial transactions you will make in your lifetime. That is why I take the sale of your home so seriously. It is why I have created the customized home marketing program strategy to best execute the sale of your home.

Why Am I Your Best Choice?

Please consider the following information about me and why I would be an excellent choice for helping you sell your home as quickly and as profitably as possible.

  • I am an expert in your market area.
  • As a Real Estate Agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – Mason McDuffie, I am part of an organization with a rock-solid reputation that has been serving our community for more than 125 years.
  • All Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate listings are available online through major national and local real estate portals, exposing your home to hundreds of thousands of potential buyers.
  • I know what people are looking for when they look at houses in your neighborhood. I know how to speak to your buyer’s desires.
  • I have a highly successful marketing plan and will develop a customized strategy designed to procure a favorable sale for your home.
  • I will create a comprehensive evaluation of your home and work with you to develop an effective pricing strategy.
  • Advise you how to prepare you property for real estate professional previews and buyer showings.
  • Communicate with you consistently throughout the transaction. I will serve you with honesty and integrity throughout your real estate transaction. If you need to reach me, I’m there for you.
  • Negotiate through the buyer’s agent, and handle possible counter offers, to reach a final agreement that is favorable to you.
  • Work to protect your interests through the completion of the transaction.
  • Best of all, my work is guaranteed. I will do everything I can to make you happy, and if you’re not pleased, you’re welcome to dismiss me.

All Real Estate Agents Are NOT The Same

I would like to provide you with a complimentary Comparative Market Analysis. It’s absolutely FREE, with no obligation whatsoever:

  • I personally conduct a thorough evaluation of your home, providing you with real-world facts, presented in an easy to understand format.
  • I will tour your home to identify issues that could negatively affect your selling price. I’ll then create for you a checklist of strategies designed for the unique situation of your home, in order to sell it for the most money possible.
  • I share with you my premium exposure marketing plan.
  • My plan supplies you with tricks of the trade to promote your home properly, to best handle buyers, to avoid crime, and much, much more.

Waiting Could result in a Difference of Thousands of Dollars!

Don’t wait! Contact me and I will be happy to answer any of your questions, send you any information, and sell your home quickly and easily!

From the first time home buyer to the savvy investor – from the seller with equity to the seller underwater and needing options – I am here for you.

How Your Listing Should be Marketed to Get it Sold

Only 39% of Americans between 30-49 years of age read newspapers on a daily basis.  As a result, I place a significant emphasis on accessing home buyers for your property on the internet.  The National Association or Realtors estimates that 90% of home buyers use the internet to research homes for sale.  In addition, Internet users tend to be younger and earn more than non-Internet users.  91% of Americans who earn $75,000+ annually use the internet daily.  When you list your home with me, I ensure it receives maximum exposure.

  • I promote directly to prospective buyers through:
  • The Internet
  • Yard Sign with Mobile Texting Sign Rider
  • Open Houses
  • Print Advertising
  • e-Marketing Campaigns
  • Direct Mail
  • Networking
  • Other Marketing Activities
  • I enlist the efforts of other real estate professionals using:
  • Multiple Listing Services (MLS)
  • Direct Promotion to Other Real Estate Professionals
  • Referral and Relocation Resources
  • e-Marketing Campaign
  • I utilize dozens of real estate websites to promote my listings, one which is Realtor.com – the #1 real estate website in America.  In fact, according to Media Matrix 11.2 Million buyers search Realtor.com every month, and home buyers and sellers stay 3-times longer on Realtor.com than any other real estate site.  You’re provided the following benefits as part of this program:
  • Interested buyers who call on your listing are responded to quickly
  • Up to 25 photos of your home can be shown
  • Buyers see a detailed display of neighborhood information about schools, places of worship, demographics, and maps on your listing without having enlist the assistance of a third party
  • Virtual tours can be included
  • Descriptive copy on your home will be included
  • Your Open House dates can be promoted on Realtor.com
  • Tracking reports showing the number of times the property was viewed
  • Maps and directions to your home

Of course, I don’t depend on Realtor.com alone.  My listings can also be viewed at these top national websites, giving your home maximum exposure to hundreds of thousands of potential buyers:

If you’re ready to move on, and you want your home sold fast, contact me today.  I’m more than happy assist you throughout your home selling process.


From the first time home buyer to the savvy investor – from the seller with equity to the seller underwater and needing options – I am here for you.

What Gives? Why are Short Sales So Complicated?!

This is a question I hear on a daily basis.  It’s important to understand and accept that a short sale will take longer than a straight equity sale, and even a bank owned home in most cases.

Here’s a quick break down of the overall process, and why it seems to take so long.


  • Once an offer is made it has to first be accepted by the home owners.  This is usually not a difficult step, as the average home owner is not overly concerned with the net sheet because it’s ultimately not that person’s net loss.
  • After the homeowner accepts the offer, their agent then submits it to the bank(s).  In the best case scenario, the subject property will only have one mortgage, and in turn one bank to negotiate with.  We’ll assume that this the case for now, and then go over the possible differences at the end of my spiel.
  • Normally, the agent will put together a short sale package containing a myriad documents that are requested by the bank to go along with the offer.  Each bank has its own requirements, but almost all banks will ask for the following:
  1. Listing Agreement
  2. MLS history for the property
  3. Comparable Listings to justify the list price (usually 3 active, 3 sold, and 3 pending if possible)
  4. Executed Purchase Agreement
  5. Pre-Approval letter or Proof of Funds for the buyer making the offer
  6. A HUD-1 Statement for the purchase (this breaks down the banks expected net loss from the sale after all fees are accounted for)
  7. Financial Statements for homeowners applying for the short sale including but not limited to: bank statements, retirement accounts, investment portfolios, pay stubs, evidence of other income, a signed 4506-T granting the bank access to your tax returns, a completed budget worksheet which breaks down the homeowner’s end-of-month net after all necessary expenses are deducted from their gross income, etc.
  8. A well written, one page hardship letter explaining what event(s) have occurred that have left the homeowners less able to pay their monthly mortgage payment than they were on the day they were approved for their home loan.  It’s important to note that being upside down in itself is not generally accepted as being a true hardship for the purposes of a short sale.  There must be an extenuating circumstance that lessens your ability to afford your regular payment, i.e. loss of employment, death in the family, unexpected medical expenses, an adjustment in your ARM loan, reduction in income, or some other catastrophic event.
  • When your agent submits this well organized package to the bank, there will be an administrative person who receives it from the bank’s short sale department in most cases.  This person’s function is to ensure that the package is complete and ready to be reviewed for negotiation. If your package is not complete, it will not be sent to a negotiator’s desk, so make sure everything is done right the first time around.
  • Once your file has been reviewed and accepted as a complete package it will then be assigned to a negotiator.  This alone may take two to three weeks.  Keep in mind that yours is just one of many files on the negotiator’s desk, which will absolutely mean a delay between the time he/she receives your file and the time he/she actually begins reviewing it.
  • The negotiator’s job is to protect the bank financially.  He/she needs to examine the numbers and ensure that the net loss on the short sale will overall be less expensive than a foreclosure would potentially be.  He/she also needs to determine that foreclosure is eminent if a short sale is not approved (this is where all of those financial documents and hardship letter come in).  Keep in mind that in most cases the bank sells off mortgage debt to third party investors which means the bank must be able to justify any losses to those individuals.

IF the homeowner can be financially interpreted on paper as being able to afford the mortgage payment, then there is no real reason for the bank allow that person to do anything less than what was agreed upon in their contract- which is pay the full amount due, with interest, as promised .

IF though, that person’s financial situation has drastically changed and it’s clear through their financial records and hardship letter explanation of their circumstances, that there is just no possible way for them to continue paying the loan payments, regardless of whether or not a short sale is granted, and if it isn’t granted then the home will in all likelihood end up in foreclosure (an expensive process in itself), then the bank will be more likely to negotiate for an acceptable loss.

  • Usually the negotiator will calculate a “Magic Number” so to speak that the bank needs to be able to net in order for it to be financially sensible for them to accept a short sale, but of course they will not normally share this number with the agent until the very end of negotiations (if at all) in an effort to maximize their earnings from the sale.  They will then take the difference between that number, and the number at hand with the given offer on the table and attempt to trim costs as necessary.  They may do this any number of ways.  For example: it’s very rare that a bank will pay any non-essential fees, or costs that could potentially be passed on to the buyer (i.e. home warranty, closing costs, excessive commissions, etc.)
  • Once all of this back and forth has been handled you might be ready to close!  UNLESS THERE ARE SECONDARY LIEN HOLDERS (and there often times are).
  • IF the property has a 2nd mortgage and/or a HELOC you will need to negotiate a payoff with them as well.  All of the same rules that come with negotiating with the 1st bank will apply to the other bank(s) involved in the financing.  Other possible lien holders include Home Owner Associations, or government entities for unpaid tax liens.  Each secondary lien holder will have to be settled independently of each other.  Once the secondary lien holders have agreed upon their respective payoffs, your agent will then add their payoff amounts to the HUD-1 to be paid through escrow once the home is sold.  The bank that holds the 1st mortgage must agree to the payoff amounts for each secondary lien holder, and each secondary lien holder must be paid through escrow.  It is ILLEGAL for a buyer to pay a secondary lien holder outside of escrow!

If all the payoffs have been negotiated and approved by the 1st lender, AND if the remaining balance after those payoffs are made is still enough to satisfy the 1st mortgage’s previously mentioned “magic number” THEN you will have the makings of a successful short sale.  Of course all of this is dependent upon a very strict time table, because in many cases there may be a looming foreclosure on the horizon.

Bottom Line? Short Sales are complicated, and time consuming, and stressful.  That’s just part of the deal.  They are also a means of salvation for the struggling home owner under water who is looking to minimize the long term damage to their credit so that they can start rebuilding towards future home ownership.  AND they are often competitively priced because of the added frustration that comes along with the process, which means a golden opportunity for buyers on a budget!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns specific to your situation that I may be able to address for you.  Before you consider a short sale, I highly recommend you speak with a real estate attorney to determine the possible consequences that may or may not apply to your unique situation.

From the first time home buyer to the savvy investor – from the seller with equity to the seller underwater and needing options – I am here for you.

Selling Tips in a Buyer’s Market

A buyer’s market means it’s the seller’s turn to be flexible, especially with sale terms. Purchase price, closing dates, move-in dates, storage, appliances, window treatments, points and fees may all require a little negotiation. Whatever the terms, don’t let personal feelings stand in the way of a good deal.

The basics

In a buyer’s market, curb appeal, cleanliness, overall good condition and updates are especially crucial. Any little flaw should be taken care of before the first buyer drives up.

  • Attend open houses in your neighborhood to see what “sell-ready” really looks like. If you’re shy, ask your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate sales associate to walk you through a few sell-ready examples.
  • Back home, start with the exterior to ensure you’re making a good first impression. Reseed or throw down some turf on lawn patches, change the lights in the lamppost, and if necessary, reset the walkway stone.
  • Clean the interior beyond your standards. Even if they are impeccable, rent an industrial carpet cleaner or hire a professional cleaning service. Brighten the interior ambience with light fixture updates, as new lighting is one of the most inexpensive and noticeable improvements you can make prior to listing.
  • Fix leaky faucets and make sure the water pressure is strong in both the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • If necessary, a great way to improve the appearance of your home is to paint. Use only neutral colors that can easily lend themselves to different décor and styles of furniture.

Don’t reject low offers –  Negotiate!

  • Don’t dismiss lower-than-expected offers. Instead, consider buyer incentives that help you meet your asking price. Offer to pay the buyer’s closing costs, moving costs or loan origination fee. These can help the buyer with upfront costs. As well, you may consider offering a limited home warranty that covers HVAC systems and some appliances for a definitive period of time.
  • Be careful of purchase offers that are contingent on the buyer selling their home first. Their home may be in a softer market than yours and you could be in for a long wait. Be sure that the purchase agreement includes a contingency-release clause. This way you’ll be able to sell if another buyer comes along.
  • Work with your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate agent to find creative solutions to make a deal come together. The purchase price is just part of the deal. Anything that makes your property stand apart from the competition will give it an edge in a buyer’s market.

From the first time home buyer to the savvy investor – from the seller with equity to the seller underwater and needing options – I am here for you.

The Power of Color

Color is the easiest, most cost-effective, and most dramatic way to instantly change the look of your home.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a buyer to see a home with the perfect floor plan, the best upgrades, location, and price BUT they just couldn’t get over the orange paint!

  • As sellers it’s important to remember that color has a huge impact on buyers, and not every buyer is going to share your unique taste.  Try to look at your home with a fresh pair of eyes, and decide for yourself if it might be time to refresh the paint.
  • As buyers it’s important to remember that a can of paint and an afternoon is all that stands between you and that orange wall!  Many times a home will stay on the market because other, less imaginative buyers passed on it based on the power of color.  This may mean that the perfect home might come with the perfect price tag.
  • And as homeowners it’s important to remember that our house is our home!  If there’s something not right about how you feel when relaxing in your living room, do something about it!  As is the case with the buyers, you need to remember that a can of paint and some elbow grease is a great combination to completely change the tone of your space.  Don’t worry about appealing to the masses.  When it’s time to sell your home, it’s easy enough to tone it down to a more neutral color scheme if needed.


From the first time home buyer to the savvy investor – from the seller with equity to the seller underwater and needing options – I am here for you.