by Broderick Perkins
(9/15/2010) At last count, nationwide, new home sales were down more than 12 percent and resale home sales down even more -- 27 percent.
In part, it's the economy. The rate of unemployment nationwide remains at just under 10 percent and some locales are still in double digits.
In the Gulf Coast area, blame the oil disaster for washing away more sales.
And, unless your state is one of the few with a home buying tax credit, the end of the federal tax credit also took a bite out of home sales.
Some of the home sale depression, however, comes from home sellers who still just don't get it and make mistakes that tank the deal.
To find help for sellers we went to Silicon Valley where, even as home sales dropped nearly 9 percent in August, home prices are up nearly 12 percent a year ago.
Some sellers, apparently, are making all the right moves.
We sought help from Julie Larsen Wyss, a hard core Silicon Valley Intero Real Estate Services broker associate in San Jose, CA.
Wyss, also a broker associate at North Star Mortgage Associates and short sale specialist offered these mistakes sellers ought not make if they want to move their home off the list of homes that languish unsold.
• Pricing too high. A high listing price will cause some buyers to lose interest sight-unseen. It may also lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. Overpriced homes tend to take an unusually long time to sell, ultimately selling at a lower price.
"Every seller obviously wants to get the most money for his product. Ironically, the best way to do this is NOT to list your home at an excessively high price," Wyss advises.
• Mistaking refinance appraisals for the market value. Lenders often estimate the value of homes at a higher level than it's actually worth to encourage refinancing. Ask your real estate agent for the most recent information regarding property sales (similar to yours) in your community.
"This will give you an up to date and factually accurate estimate of your property value," she said.
• Forgetting to Showcase Your Home. When selling your home, make it look as pleasant and move-in-ready as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. De-clutter.
Says Wyss, "A poorly kept home in need of repairs will surely lower the selling price and will even turn away some potential buyers. In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread."
• Using the "hard sell" while showing. "Don't try haggling or forcefully selling. Allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property," Wyss said.
Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. Instead, be friendly and hospitable. A good idea would be to point out any subtle amenities and be receptive to questions.
• Trying to sell to "looky-loos." A prospective buyer who shows up because they saw a for sale sign likely isn't interested in your property. Buyers who don't come through a real estate agent, typically are six to nine months away from buying. They just want to see what's available. Chances are, they still have to seller their house, haven't been to a lender and may not be able to afford a home yet.
"Your real estate agent can distinguish real potential buyers from lookers because they will take the time to determine a prospective buyer's savings, credit rating, and purchasing power. If your agent fails to do so, you should investigate on your own, avoid wasting time investigating and questioning on your own, and get a new real estate agent," Wyss said.
• Being ignorant of your rights and responsibilities. Know the details of the sales contract. They are legally binding documents that can be complex and confusing. Know your responsibilities before signing the contract. Can the property be sold "as is"? How will deed restrictions and local zoning laws affect your transaction? There's much more to know.
Wyss said, "Not knowing can end up costing you a considerable amount of money."
• Signing a listing contract with no escape clause. Hopefully you will choose the best real estate agent. However, stuff happens. Perhaps you misjudged your agent. Perhaps the agent has other priorities. In any case, you should have the right to fire your agent. You are the boss. He or she is your employee. You should also have the right to select another agent. Many real estate companies will simply replace one agent with another one from the same company, without consulting you.
"Take control before signing a real estate listing contract," Wyss said.
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