House for saleIn a raging hot seller’s market such as we are experiencing today in Silicon Valley, home owners may be subject to some very costly temptations.

Home seller temptation # 1: overconfidence on the market

Because folks read about the dozens of offers on some homes, by extension, it’s easy to believe that every home sells, for top dollar, with no effort or planning on the part of the seller. This is a huge mistake. Perhaps we should even call it a myth since it may be commonly believed.

In today’s wildly hot market, there are still some homes that DO NOT SELL. 

What are the odds that your home won’t sell?

I just pulled some numbers from the MLS today, July 23, 2018. You may find them surprising!

  • In Santa Clara County, there are currently 1274 single family homes on the market
    • 490 of them have been on the market at least 30 days – 38% are not moving quickly & likely need a price reduction, if it hasn’t already been done
    • 211 of the 1274 have been for sale for at least 60 days – 17% have had 2 months worth of open houses, keeping the home spotless, etc.
    • 107 of the 1274 have a “days on market” of 90 days or more – 8% have serious market rejection
  • These are not all luxury homes!
    • 9 are listed at under $1 million
    •  13 are offered between $1 million and $1,499,999 (“normal” houses in our area)
    •  9 are on the market between $1.5 mil and $1,999,999
    • 14 are listed at $2 million to $2,499,999 (these are still not luxury homes in most cases)
    • 11 are priced between $2.5 mil and $2,999,999
    • That’s 56 homes of 107 that are under $3 million. The balance are “high end homes”, which usually are more challenging to sell

The best homes, those which are well priced, well marketed, and are easily shown, sell within 2-3 weeks. After that, home buyers view them as stale listings and assume something terrible is wrong with them. After three weeks, unless the home gets a deep price reduction, it’s unlikely to get multiple offers.

This first temptation is the greatest one, and it often leads to mistakes in areas #2 and #3, listed below.

Home seller temptation # 2: cutting corners and still having maximum success

Because the stories about fast home sales with dozens of offers and 10, 15, 20% overbids gives this false impression that the whole selling process is so easy, one can believe that a top price can be had with little effort (or thought, or professional help for that matter). Plunk a sign in the yard, have one open house and the world will be at the doorstep, right?

Not so fast.  The houses which are getting gobs of offers are strategically marketed by professional real estate licensees, many of whom are Realtors working full time in the business. A whole lot of ground work was done before a sign ever showed up in the yard.

Those sellers first hired someone for expert guidance.  In the vast majority of cases, landscaping and staging work has been done (the decluttering alone can take months but is well worth it).  Pre sale inspections were performed and made available for interested home buyers to see so that they knew what they were buying.  (It is important to use reputable firms for these inspections – and that sort of assistance in selecting providers best comes from the listing agent.) And of course a lot of online marketing was done as well – usually with professional photography.  In most cases, professional representation is behind the scenes, often for weeks or months before the home went onto the market.

What corners do these mistaken property owners make?  Sometimes not hiring a real estate professional to represent and guide them on important things like pricing strategy, sometimes not following the pre-sale advice to repair, declutter, inspect, and stage, or not market the home appropriately with good photos or even an attractive buyer’s commission rate.  Sometimes they refuse to have a lock box, or leave during showings, or insist that the listing agent be present. There are many more but these are the ones I see most often. Pricing is frequently the biggest culprit.

Home seller temptation # 3: it doesn’t need to be easy for the buyer to see the property, it needs to be easy for the seller to live in the property

This temptation can be very difficult for home owners to overcome.  First they must be able to see the house, townhouse, or condo they’ve been living in as an asset to be sold rather than their home.  That is a big jump, but it’s key to a strong sale. Let’s talk about that first.

When viewing the marketing and sale of the property in a slightly more detached fashion, it is easier to allow more flexible showings (since you will view them as a plus, not an intrusion), staging (which requires depersonalizing and neutralizing), addressing inspection issues (without feeling under attack).

How does one do this?  I won’t tell you it’s easy, but remind yourself that your home is going with you.  Wherever you go next, that will be home – and you aren’t selling that highly personal thing!  It is important to “mentally move out” as you put your excess stuff in storage prior to the sale. As your house or town house becomes less personalized with your stuff and new paint or carpet plus staging items are installed, you will begin to feel like it’s already not really your home anymore.  That’s a good thing for selling and it can be a reminder that some of the inconveniences of showings, cleanings, etc. are leading you somewhere – to your next place!

Showings: how hard will you make it for buyers to see your residence?  I wrote about this extensively a few years ago in an article titled Want to Sell Your Home? Make it Easy for Buyers to See it!  In a nutshell, the easier you make it for the property to be seen, the better the odds are that you will maximize the net at the closing table.  (Just keep safety issues in mind! For that, please see: Safely showing your home).  Buyers, by the way, normally do not want you to accompany them and their Realtor through the house.  You may feel that you’re helping by pointing out features (“here’s the kitchen, there’s the sink”), but unless something is truly not visible, such as hardwood floors under the carpet, buyers prefer to be on their own so that they can speak freely about the house. Comments like “gee, it might look ok if we removed that ugly paneling” can’t be said if you, the seller, is standing right there – crowding them.

Often when a seller is not flexible with showings, or follows a buyer around in the house, or won’t depersonalize etc., it’s because fundamentally, the seller is seeing this experience as an invasion of his or her home, rather than the selling of an asset. If you can make the mental shift when selling your house that it’s an asset and not your home, it will be easier for you and your odds of the best success are increased.

There are many more temptations for home sellers, but most of them relate back to one of these three areas.  To maximize your net on the sale of the property, it’s important to remember that not everything is selling at all (let alone for top dollar), the homes that are getting the most attention are the ones where corners haven’t been cut and your property’s odds of selling are much high if you can think of your house or condominium as an asset to be sold – and gently, mentally, move out.

See what’s going on in the Santa Clara County in the map below: