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Want to Sell Your House? Don’t Do These 4 Things

Want to Sell Your House - St. Louis

For Sale Sign in Front of a House

When potential buyers drive up to your home, they’re full of hope.

They imagine themselves baking in the kitchen and their kids playing in the yard. Most of all they think: “Could this be my home?”

Then they look closer. They see a mess by the driveway and the peeling paint near the roofline. Very quickly, they decide to keep driving—and keep looking. They don’t want your home. The exterior tells them the interior might have the same negative impact.

They’ve already done research on your neighborhood and know your asking price. Now they’re just driving by to see if your home has that “it” factor—not an “ick” factor.

Where do most sellers go wrong? Here are the main mistakes they make:

1. Ignore curb appeal

How your home appears from the curb is extremely important. It’s the proverbial first impression. If your home looks inviting from the outside—the yard maintained, the garden manicured and the paint fresh—potential buyers will take an interest in it. If not, they might think the interior is likely unkempt, too—and they’ll move on.

2. Crowd the buyer

When you sell your home, take yourself out of the picture. If you happen to be home, greet any potential buyers and then allow them to walk through your home undisturbed. Give them a chance to picture their couches in the living room or their dining set in the dining room. Let them have space to discuss what they’re seeing.

Some sellers crowd a buyer, thinking that any newcomer will want all the details of every renovation and every nook. Don’t do this. Let the buyer be. You can always provide an info sheet to describe anything you feel should be mentioned.

3. Offer that ‘lived-in’ look

Prospective buyers don’t want to see your clutter. It’s distracting and makes it hard for them to picture themselves in your home. A mess can often hide aspects of the home that would entice someone else to buy.

When you’re selling, keep a tidy home and tuck away all your family photos and knickknacks. Try to create as many open, clear spaces as you can. Clean off counters and other surfaces. Even the toaster and blender should be stored away when you show your home.

Ideally you will have time to give all the rooms a fresh coat of paint. You don’t need to hire an interior designer, but do look over your home with an unbiased eye. Is it warm and inviting? Pleasing to the eye?

4. Let odors linger

If you smoke or have pets, your home will likely have an odor. Although you might be used to it, others may not appreciate it.

Removing pet urine smells out of carpets takes care; you’ll likely need to use special solutions or a steam cleaner. With rugs, you may just have to buy new ones. Vinegar will work on most flooring. If you have a litter box, change it daily while showing your home.

If you smoke, try to smoke outside as much as possible. Most nonsmokers are sensitive to the smell of smoke. Not only will they want to leave, they may also find the prospect of cleansing a home of smoke odor a turnoff. You may be so used to it that you hardly notice the odor, but others will walk out the door quickly.

If there is a heavy smell in the home from years of smoking indoors, try washing the walls with vinegar. And don’t forget the curtains, shades and anything else that might collect the tar and resin from the smoke.

For any unwanted smells, try baking soda. Sprinkle it around the house, on the furniture and on the carpets. Let it sit for a day so the granules can absorb the odors and then vacuum it all up. You may have to do this a few times.

Think of it as vacuuming your way to a good deal on your home.

Based on an original article by Laura Sherman


5 Mistakes People Make When Selling a Home

5 Mistakes People Make Selling a Home St. LouisEighty-three percent of people view their home as a good financial investment, a 2014 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found. Not only is their home the biggest single asset most people own, but it’s also filled with memories — the average seller has lived in his house for a decade, according to the NAR. So it’s no wonder that when it comes time to sell property, people can get a little emotional.

Yet if people actually want to get a return on their investment in their home, they need to be smart about how they approach selling it. Letting emotions, not logic, drive decisions means you’re more likely to make mistakes that can make it difficult to find a buyer or force you into accepting a lower offer than you would like.

The good news for sellers is that the market is tight. That’s pushing home prices higher across the country, and the number of homes being sold is also up. The typical seller receives 97% of his final asking price, and his home was on the market for about a month, says the NAR.

But those numbers don’t mean that every homeowner sells his property quickly or gets the price he wants. You can increase your chances of a successful real estate transaction if you avoid these five mistakes when listing your home.

1. Not being realistic about your home’s value

Source: iStock

What you think your home is worth and the price you can actually sell it for are often two very different numbers. “Nobody cares what you paid for it,” one frustrated home seller told the Wall Street Journal. He’d bought a home for $325,000 and spent another $150,000 on renovations, but the property eventually sold for $83,000 less than he originally paid for it.

Even in markets where inventory is tight, sellers need to be careful not to get too greedy when picking a listing price. Properties that are overpriced at the outset tend to eventually sell at a lower price than they would have if they’d been appropriately priced in the first place. Choose a reasonable price based on factors like how much comparable properties are selling for and the home’s appraised value. If you’re not getting any interest, adjust your strategy. “No offers within a 30-day period means the price is too high,” real estate agent Djana Morris wrote in The Washington Post.

2. Not making your home look its best


By now, we’ve all watched enough HGTV shows to know that good staging and curb appeal help to sell homes. “At a minimum, homeowners should conduct a thorough cleaning, haul out clutter, make sure the home is well-lit and fix any major aesthetic issues,” said Chris Polychron, president of the NAR, in a statement about the value of home staging. More elaborate staging, such as repainting with neutral colors, sprucing up landscaping, or purchasing new furniture can also help. Overall, professionally staged homes can sell five to seven times faster than non-staged homes, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.

3. Refusing to negotiate

Source: Thinkstock

You should start by setting a fair and reasonable price for your home, but you also need to build in some wiggle room, especially if you need to sell quickly. Many buyers will start with an offer well below your asking price, particularly if they think it’s a buyer’s market. Naturally, their goal is to pay as little as possible for the home they want. Plus, many people want to feel like they’ve snagged a deal on what may be the biggest purchase of their lives.

You can make your buyers happy while also getting the price you need by being willing to accept slightly less than asking price for your home. Alternatively, you might agree to concessions like paying the closing costs, throwing in appliances, or making certain repairs to the property in order to sweeten the deal. Working with an experienced agent can help you negotiate the tricky dance of getting the price you want without scaring off a buyer.

4. Hiding the truth about your home


Sellers who want to be rid of their property quickly may be tempted to try to hide problems with the home from prospective buyers. But trying to cover up serious flaws, like foundation problems, leaky roofs, or mold, could come back to haunt you later. If you aren’t up front about your home’s issues, the buyer may well discover them during the home inspection. At that point, they’ll probably either back out of the deal or ask you to cover the costs of fixing the problem. If the issues are serious and are discovered after the sale goes through, you could end up caught in a messy, protracted legal battle.

Real estate site Zillow recommends being upfront with both your listing agent and your buyer about potential issues with the home. Price your home appropriately given its condition and document the problems you’re aware of and have your buyer sign off on them. Full disclosure is the best way to avoid a lawsuit.

5. Not having a backup plan

Source: Thinkstock

In a perfect world, you’re able to smoothly navigate the transition between selling your current home and buying a new one. In reality, things rarely go as planned. Savvy sellers have contingency plans in place to avoid either getting stuck with two mortgages at once or not having a place to live, or to protect them if a deal falls through.

Some people insert clauses into their contracts that make it clear that they won’t move forward with the sale unless they are able to purchase a new home. You may also want to be prepared to find temporary housing, like a rental or staying with family, in case your home sells quickly. If you must move before your home sells, make sure you’ve budgeted to afford the carrying costs of the old home. Finally, if there are multiple people interested in your home, you may be able to accept backup offers, which involve agreeing to sell to a second buyer if the first one backs out.



St. Louis housing market’s on the road to recovery

From Jim Gallagher, St. Louis Post – Dispatch

The St. Louis-area real estate market is recovering from last year’s case of the blahs. That’s good news for home sellers, but a mixed bag for buyers.

Sales are up as the spring house-hunting season gets into gear. Prices are up, too.

St. Louis Housing Market RecoveryMortgage rates are down from last year, although they’ve been creeping up for the past three weeks. But buyers are finding fewer homes to choose from.

In St. Louis County, home sales are up 9 percent so far this year through April, after falling 7 percent through all of 2014. It’s the same story in St. Louis, with sales up 11 percent. They are up 7 percent in St. Charles and 13 percent in Jefferson County.

Sales were up 19 percent in St. Clair County and flat in Madison County, according to the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors in Metro East.

Rising sales usually mean rising prices, and that seems to be the case. As of March, St. Louis-area prices were up 4.8 percent from a year earlier, according to CoreLogic, the real estate data firm.

Zillow, the real estate website, thinks St. Louis-area home values in March were up 3.7 percent over the year, and predicts a 3.5 percent over the next year. The firms use different methods for measuring trends in a market where houses differ widely and prices change block by block.

The rise in sales may reflect the fact that more people have jobs — unemployment here is at a seven-year low of 5.5 percent — and that mortgage lenders are a little looser.

Mortgages are a little cheaper this year, with 30-year loans averaging interest rates of 3.85 percent last week, compared to 4.2 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac. Rates dipped as low as 3.65 percent in late April.

Freddie and Fannie Mae, which back most mortgages, have also cut required down payments to as low as 3 percent for some homebuyers. The FHA cut the mortgage insurance premiums it charges borrowers. All of that allows more people to afford houses.

Rising prices also reflect a mismatch between supply and demand in many neighborhoods. Real estate agents have been complaining for two years about a lack of homes for sale here, and supply is getting skimpier.

In St. Louis County, there were 2,900 homes for sale last month, compared with 3,700 in April of last year and 6,400 in the depths of the housing recession in April 2010.


Barb and Larry Schmidt, a retired couple, saw the market from both sides this spring.

They had tried to sell their Ballwin home two years ago, when the market was weaker. “We were hoping to get a certain amount to cover everything we put into the house. It didn’t go,” said Barb Schmidt, so they removed it from the market.

But the Schmidts found the pickings slim when they went shopping for a new home in the Ballwin area. They wanted a “villa,” an attached home designed for older people.

“What they were asking for was ridiculous in price for very little offered,” Barb Schmidt said.

They had to head west to St. Charles County.

“We went out to Dardenne Prairie and got what we wanted,” she said.

Realtors consider a six-month supply of homes to be a balanced market, with no advantage to buyer or seller. There’s only a four-month supply on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. That makes this a seller’s market.

But the St. Louis region isn’t one real estate market. It is dozens, and conditions can differ widely by neighborhood. It’s often difficult to discern trends in small areas over short periods, since a few unusual sales can distort the averages.

In St. Louis County, the greatest sales and price increases are concentrated in the western suburbs this year. North and South County present mixed pictures, with prices and sales up in some areas and down in others.

The market is hottest in the $150,000 to $250,000 price range, with high demand and low supply.


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