Common Mistakes Sellers Make


10) Waiting to list. 

I know the idea of selling your house in the middle of the winter can be overwhelming, and of course, it is a risk you run if you list in November or December. But consider the advantages. While summer in Northern Michigan is a stronger selling season, people buy homes all year round. Fewer homes on the market in the off-season will give you a competitive advantage.

In addition, many times buyers that are shopping in the off-season are more serious shoppers. 

Factors like corporate relocations which are common at this time, as well as year-end bonuses, make buyers at this time serious about their purchase. You may have fewer people at your open house, but they are more apt to put in an offer. 

Listing your Northern Michigan home in the winter can also show off how well it handles the snowy season. Maybe your driveway faces East, so the sun will melt the ice in the morning. Or maybe your insulated attic shines because you don’t have any icicles hanging from your roof. Take this season to show off parts of your home that would normally be swept aside!

9) Not reviewing the contract carefully.

Whether you are listing your Northern Michigan home or getting an offer on your property, make sure you read the contract language and talk to your Realtor about anything you don’t understand. Especially with an offer, you want to make sure you understand what the buyer is asking for, and what your obligations are.

Contingencies are common in contracts. Pay attention to what they may be related to. There may be contingencies about the inspection, repairs, financing, and more. These allow the buyer to back out of the sale based on different terms noted in the contract. 

You may receive a cash offer on your Charlevoix home for sale, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the buyer has physical cash in hand for the purchase. A cash offer means the closing is not contingent on the buyer securing their loan. This can make the sale of the house go faster. 

It’s important to ask yourself if in your case a quick sale will be a smooth sale. How much time do you need to find a new home? Also, you may consider asking for a proof of funds letter from the buyer to ensure the money is coming from a legitimate source. 

8) For sale by owner.

Can it be done? Yes. And we are a real estate office, so we won’t claim to be unbiased. But practically speaking, besides the marketing and exposure a Realtor can provide, consider this: A buyer will care more about having experienced representation than whether or not you are paying a commission.

In addition, there are so many benefits that your Realtor will provide that will make the home selling process much easier. Real Estate is a full-time job—we answer the phone for every potential buyer, open your home during business hours for showings while you may be at work, and we have the resources to properly market your home to all our connections. 

Keeping your house pristine for showings is a lot of work, so we know how to minimize the unnecessary showings by weeding out tire kickers. We know what questions to ask to ensure your potential buyer is there with interest in buying your home. 

We are also experienced in price negotiation. Taking low offers when the timeline is stressed or being offended when the offer isn’t high enough are common mistakes sellers make when they aren’t represented by an agent. 

Finally, selling a home without representation can expose you to legal risks you may not have had otherwise. It’s valuable to have someone on your side that knows the ins and out. 

7) Ignoring or being offended by lowball offers.

It can be hard to emotionally detach from your home when you’re selling it. Our homes grow in value in our hearts from the work we put into them and the memories we’ve shared there. However, it’s important to make sure your expectations are realistic. If your agent has been suggesting a price reduction, perhaps the lowball offer you received isn’t as out-of-line as you may think. Trust your agent’s knowledge of the Northern Michigan market (he or she will be able to back it up with comparable properties). If you and your agent still agree that it’s a lowball offer, answer it with a counter-offer and find out if the buyer is willing to negotiate. Above all, disengage your emotions.

6) Not ensuring the buyer can buy.

The most exciting offer you could receive will still leave you flat if the person making it is unqualified for the loan they need. Make sure the buyer is pre-approved for a loan, and not just pre-qualified.

If you have a cash offer that you’re thinking of accepting, it’s smart to ensure the funds are good to go by receiving a proof of funds letter. A cash offer doesn’t necessarily mean the buyer has physical cash in hand for the purchase. A cash offer means the closing is not contingent on the buyer securing their loan. While this can make the sale of the house go faster, it’s important to be sure the money is legitimate. 

5) “Saving” on advertising.

Did you know that 90% of today’s buyers start their search online? A sign and an occasional ad can’t compete with a great website (such as this one!), a multi-list system presence, and the use of such websites as®. Your agent may be willing to do some print advertising as well, but for most buyers, a strong web presence is most critical – and far-reaching.

In addition to advertising, you want to be sure you have high-quality photos of your home. Because most buyers start their search online, the photos of your home are the first impression they have. 

4) Not making your home easy to show.

We understand that if you have a young family, it is hard to keep your Charlevoix home in showing condition. Still, remember that buyers are often seeing several homes, and if they can’t get in for a first showing, you may not get a second chance. Make your home as easy to show as you possibly can, and consider allowing your agent to place a lockbox at your home.

In addition to making your home easy to show, you want to ensure you let your agent handle the showing. When you're in your home as it's being shown, it makes everyone uncomfortable. You want the buyer to feel like this home is for them! You don't want them to just feel like an awkward visitor. 

3) Not readying your home for sale.

Even in a buyer's market, you may still have competition. Make sure it’s in shape for the challenge. You may be in a position to do major improvements – updated kitchen or bath, or new windows. But even if you’re not, there are things you can do.

Clear out any clutter and mess. Have a clean house for every showing. Make simple repairs – something as small as a broken piece of trim invites a lower offer. You may be able to hide damages during a showing, but they will surface during the home inspection. It's best for both parties to have any damages repaired before you list the home for sale. Put a fresh coat of neutral paint on the walls. Make sure your home is appealing, clean, and uncluttered – inside and out. And don't forget about toys and pets--you want to ensure any kid's toys, pet hair, and animal supplies are put away. 

You may also consider some help with professional staging. Buyers need to be able to see themselves living in your home. For example, if you have family photos on the walls, your buyer may have a harder time seeing themselves living there. You also want to be sure the space is not too crowded. A general rule is to remove 50% of your belongings from the space, as storage and space are big selling points in a home. If your furniture is crowding the space, consider renting a storage unit for extra items. While this is not a comfortable way to live, it’s only temporary so you can ensure you make top dollar for your listing. 

In addition to staging and decluttering, the proper lighting will make a big impact on the feel of your home. Turn on lights in dark corners and open the drapes. Great lighting makes your home feel much more inviting! To add the cozy factor, light some non-scented candles and start a fire in the fireplace if you have one. 

2) Ignoring ROI.

So you’re gung-ho to sell and willing to make the necessary improvements. That’s a good thing – but use your improvement dollars wisely. If all the homes in your neighborhood have sold at a certain price-point, don’t over-invest in improvements. We hear sellers say, “But my house is so much nicer than theirs,” and it may well be true. But to an extent, your value is determined by your neighbor’s values. So make necessary improvements, but don’t spend more than you can ever hope to recoup.

1) OVERPRICING: This is the number one mistake sellers make.

We know you want to get the best possible price for your home in the shortest amount of time. We know you want to build in room to negotiate. We also know this market. We know what has sold and for how much. We have come to the negotiating table many, many times. We watch national trends closely and local Northern Michigan trends even more closely. Frankly, it is in OUR best interest to get you the best price you can get. We will bring you comparative listings and sold comps to corroborate our pricing recommendation.

Finally, we know that pricing your property competitively will get it sold sooner, and that experience has confirmed selling early almost always means selling at a higher price.