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 June 17, 2020

5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Realtor showing a home to potential buyers

If you’re looking to sell, you have to have your own house in order, literally and metaphorically. The selling process is difficult enough, don’t make it any harder by avoiding tasks or hiding issues, as you do not want to be the reason that a potential deal falls through. That means making sure as a seller that you ensure that the prospect of buying your home seems as easy and straightforward as possible. 

The following five actions will ensure that you avoid common pitfalls when selling your home.

Make needed home repairs and improvements

There’s a thin line between a fixer-upper opportunity and a run-down property. Issues that you may have learned to live with are not something that a new owner is likely willing to accept, and anything that might affect the livability or appeal of the home will only serve to drive away buyers and reduce the asking price.

Even before you put your home on the market, look to make fixes or tackle improvements you’ve been putting off. It might seem like a waste for a home that you’re planning to vacate soon, but a strong first impression makes all the difference. You may have to make additional repairs discovered by the home inspector or mandated in the purchase agreement, but it’s a small price to close the deal on an offer to your liking.

Disclose any issues with the home

You don’t want to scare off any buyers you have on the hook, but you also have a legal and ethical obligation to let them know about any potential problems with the property. If you’ve had any liens or judgments against the property, it’s better to mention them yourself than to have them come up during a title search. Disclosure offers the chance of resolution, whereas hiding key facts breaches any trust that might have been built. Certain omissions may also halt the sale.

You also have to make any disclosures about the potential for floods or wildfires or earthquakes, any lead paint in the home, or, grimly, any deaths that may have occurred in the house. None of these will do much for the appeal, but it’s important that buyers know what they’re getting into, and that you act responsibly and follow the rules.   

Figure out your tenant situation

If you’re renting out the home, a room, or any space in the property, you’ll need to figure out how to proceed with showings of the home. Also, a buyer might not be keen on buying a new home and getting a tenant in the bargain, as a home sale doesn’t necessarily negate the lease you signed.

Ahead of any sale, you can talk with your tenant to see if they would be willing to vacate if the buyer wants them to, and even offer a bonus from the proceeds of the sale towards any moving costs. If they’re set on staying for the term of the lease, it’s something that you’ll have to mention to potential buyers so that they would know they would become landlords as well as new homeowners.   

Account for home closing costs

It’s easy to assume that, as the seller of the home, there’s minimal expense to you; after all, it’s the other person making the five- or six-figure purchase. But sellers have to pay their share of fees and taxes at closing, as well as a commission to their real estate agent and their real estate attorney’s bill. And that’s not accounting for any repairs the buyers might insist upon before closing.

If you’re planning to buy another home, there are also the costs associated with moving and the closing costs of the new home as well. The money from your home sale can go towards the costs of your new place, but that only works provided that you sell before buying. As with anything in real estate, budget your time and money wisely.   

Be sure to set the right price for your home

We have our own ideas about our home’s worth, but those numbers might not align with the prevailing market opinion. Sentimental attachment and a desire to reap a healthy return on your investment might cause you to set a price that’s too high for your home relative to your neighborhood and comparable properties; leaving you waiting on a buyer. Setting a price that’s too low will certainly make it easier to get a sale done, but you’re potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table, although there is the slight chance that a lower price attracts a bidding war that ultimately works to your benefit.

As with most parts of the home selling process, it’s advisable to turn to experts in helping to set the price of your home. A real estate agent can offer local market analysis and a list of comparable homes to use as a barometer, and an appraiser can offer you an objective view on what the value of your home is, or should be. Selling your home takes a lot more than just solving the above, but by avoiding pitfalls that can derail the process, you can focus on the positive work that needs to be done.   

LegalShield provider attorneys are here to help you through the home selling process

If you have any questions about the legal implications of selling your home or require real estate assistance from a lawyer, sign up to become a LegalShield member to talk to an attorney in your area; membership plans start at $24.95 per month.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.


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