By Michael Estrin of Bankrate.com
The greatest hindrance to a home sale can be a seller who is seized by emotion.
"It is very important for sellers to (keep) in mind that a real-estate transaction is most likely the single largest financial transaction they will ever undertake," says Fiona Dogan, a real-estate agent for Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty in Rye, N.Y. "It should be viewed and handled primarily as a business transaction, with cold, hard decisions being made on a financial and investment basis."
Home sellers who allow emotions and sentimental attachments to overtake them during the sale risk making hasty, poor decisions, Dogan says.
Here are tips to help any home seller avoid making emotional mistakes that could cost money.
Getting top dollar is the dream of every home seller. But getting a buyer to pay a premium for features that are valuable only to you? That's closer to fantasy, says Tracie Hamersley, senior vice president and associate broker at Citi Habitats in New York City.
"Overpricing often occurs because of emotional reasons," Hamersley says. "So many sellers make the mistake of thinking that their home is special and that a special buyer will pay more because they also fell in love with the property."
The truth is that prices have nothing to do with the seller's emotional affinity for the property. It's important that sellers understand that as early as possible, Hamersley says.
Sellers who bought at the top of the market likely won't see that same price from today's buyers.
"It's a different market," Hamersley says. "If (sellers) bought their home during the market's peak, they may have to face the unappealing prospect of losing money on the sale in today's market. This is a difficult position for a seller to be in, but it's one that reflects today's reality."
2. Attending a showing
There are legitimate reasons why a seller might want to be present for the home's showing. But having a seller there tends to sour the experience for most buyers, says Renee Weinberg of Petrey Real Estate in Long Beach, N.Y.
"Getting the seller out of the house is key," Weinberg says. "Whenever we take a listing, this is explained in advance."
Karyn Anjali Glubis, a real-estate broker and owner of The Real Estate Expert in Tampa, Fla., says sellers are sensitive when buyers nitpick flaws.
"Sellers think that every little thing is a complaint against how they may have maintained a property," she says. The reality is that observations from buyers — though sometimes harsh — have nothing to do with the person selling the home.
Having a seller present for an open house or the first — or even second — showing tends to stifle potential buyers from expressing opinions. After hearing negative feedback, some sellers reject offers for emotional reasons, Weinberg says. Sellers should use their agents to insulate them from the process and filter relevant information. They should meet buyers only when a serious offer is on the table.
3. Rejecting early offers
Sellers be warned: The longer a property sits on the market, the worse the offers are likely to get, says Nick Jabbour, a New York real-estate agent and vice president of Nest Seekers International.
"Once a property is marketed, it will receive the most attention during the first two weeks," Jabbour says. "(The home is) new to the market, and any buyers that have been in the market for a home will see it come up. If it is priced right, an educated buyer, (who has) been in the market for a while (and) sees the home as a fit, will put a serious foot forward."
Sometimes, early bids risk of spooking sellers who worry they underpriced their properties. But Jabbour says you can tell a property was priced correctly when an early offer is near the asking price, as long as the asking price is in line with the market.
4. Taking offers personally
When you're selling your home, it's easy to take everything personally. But doing so is a big mistake, Dogan says.
"Sellers need to become emotionally detached very quickly from their homes," she says. "By its very nature, a real-estate transaction is aggressive and confrontational, since the seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants the lowest."
That negotiation usually means a buyer will point out every flaw with the property. But while hearing that information may sting a little, it's a good sign because it means the buyer is serious, Dogan says.
"A seller needs to be ready to hear criticism of their lovely home and be able to deal with it as a negotiating tool and not take it as a personal affront and walk away from a potential sale for emotional reasons," she says.