MONTECITO HOME SELLERS SHOULD BEWARE OF THESE COSTLY PITFALLS
Even in Montecito, where Hollywood stars and the uber-rich choose to live, selling a home isn’t an easy process. It can be time-consuming, overwhelming, and downright costly for homeowners who are not aware of common home selling mistakes. Before you list your Montecito home, it pays to do your homework. I’ve put together 10 of the most common seller mistakes to help you save thousands — even tens of thousands — when it comes time to move.
- Selling your home on your own
If you want to get the most return on your investment, experts agree you need to work with a full-time professional agent. That’s why nearly 90% of sellers use a listing agent. Selling a home takes time, knowledge, and negotiating skills. So, while eliminating an agent’s commission (an average is 6% of the sale price) might sound appealing, a smart home seller will allow an expert to handle the sale.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to find the right agent. and in Montecito, that’s me. Ranked #1 Individual Agent in the entire Santa Barbara MLS, I offer my clients an extremely successful marketing strategy, and I (figuratively) hold their hands every step of the way.
- Mispricing your home
Just because you believe your home is the best on the block, it doesn’t mean you can command a high price. You must consider what the market will support and not let your emotions dictate your price. The reason is simple—buyers want to pay fair market value. An overpriced property will get stale from being on the market too long, which makes it even harder to sell. It’s best to price your property correctly from the beginning.
Overpricing or even underpricing can be costly errors and one of the biggest home selling mistakes. It’s critical that your agent explains the selling process and supplies comps of similar listings as well as intel about properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood to determine exactly what price tag your home needs.
- Forgetting to refresh and repair
I guarantee home sellers will lose money if they don’t refresh and repair before listing. It is less costly to update and fix things ahead of time. Besides, if you don’t take care of the necessary repairs, and freshen up the space both inside and out (don’t forget curb appeal), prospective buyers could offer less or ask for a credit back for the work that needs to be done before the deal closes. Unless you’re selling your house as-is for a fixer-upper, must-do updates include:
- Repaint using neutral colors like the owners of my Ocean View Mediterranean-Style Estate’s master bedroom. View this property’s virtual tour now and you’ll see how the entire interior has been freshly painted.
- Replace light fixtures.
- Change to updated cabinet hardware.
- Get rid of obsolete décor.
- Clean the carpet or, better yet, replace it
- Pay attention to curb appeal.
Before you tackle any big updates, weigh the cost of the proposed improvements against your home’s value. Check out my previous blog post, titled Home Improvement: Repair, Remodel or Renovate?, for valuable intel on the top return-on-investment projects. Remember, home sellers only have one chance to make a good first impression.
- Refusing to tidy up before listing
Clutter can be more than messy. It can eat your equity and may even kill a deal. Instead of the mess, focus on creating a sense of spaciousness by decluttering. Make sure your entire home is cleared from clutter. Get rid of that mess on your kitchen countertops so it sparkles like the image above from my Casa Tramonto: Classic Montecito Contemporary listing. Featuring panoramic views, privacy, and serenity, this classic, recently updated estate captures the essence of the idyllic Montecito lifestyle.
Don’t forget to tackle the overstuffed closets and even your junk drawers. If you have children, try your best to keep their toys organized. Of course, potential buyers might also have kids, so there’s a little wiggle room here, but it’s best to have everything neatly put away
Experts suggest you regularly tidy up and organize. Don’t wait until you list your home. Any time you feel the urge—or receive a nudge from your conscience or significant other—is the perfect time to get rid of, or at least de-clutter the clutter. It costs nothing but reaps big rewards when it comes time to sell.
- Not Staging
Viewing an empty house makes buyers feel the same way—empty. That’s why real estate pros like me suggest sellers stage their home. Staging refers to a method of decorating your home to showcase its best assets, impress buyers, and sell quickly for the highest possible price. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend a fortune on new furniture and accessories. Chances are, Montecito homeowners already have plenty to choose from.
Staging for Montecito homeowners may be as simple as rearranging your existing furniture and/or showing off our Santa Barbara indoor-outdoor lifestyle as the sellers did in the great room of my French Country-Style Montecito Home in Birnam Wood listing. Open your windows, let the sunshine in, highlight those breathtaking views. There’s so much to love about living here, so go ahead and show it off.
- Letting your ego get in the way
The secret art of negotiating includes taking your ego off the table. In any business deal, it’s important to keep the focus of the negotiation solely on results. By taking the emphasis off the people involved and keeping it on the facts, the negotiation is less likely to become confusing or even hostile. While it’s easy to take things personally, especially when you’re selling your beloved home with all those good family memories, it’s important that you don’t confuse yourself with the issue.
Taking negotiating personally never works and is a big home selling mistake. In fact, a home seller’s ego can mean they lose out on creating a win-win deal. Keep in mind the fact that selling your home is a business transaction. Take your ego out of the equation and put your head back into it.
- Withholding disclosure issues
Many sellers lose big bucks due to the fear of disclosing their home’s imperfections upfront. By being forthcoming about all of your home’s issues, you will save both money and time.
Disclosure laws vary from state to state. When it comes to California, real estate disclosures require residential property sellers to report, in writing, details about the property for sale. Our disclosure requirements are very strict and thorough.
- Mistiming the sale
You’ve heard the saying “timing is everything,” and that holds true in real estate. Case in point—a sale that misses its schedule by one day could cost that seller tens of thousands in extra taxes. That is why I always advise my discerning sellers to discuss all financial issues with their accountant well in advance to determine if any long-term capital gains tax breaks apply. Once they know the answer, the homeowner and I can time the sale accordingly.
Montecito home sellers should also stay abreast of the best season or month to list their home. We’ve all heard that summer is the best time to sell because that’s the time when droves of buyers are looking to move. Drilling down further, real estate information company Zillow reports the best time to list a home for sale is on a Saturday between May 1 and 15. Although we have a bit more leeway here in Santa Barbara and Montecito thanks to our lovely weather, generally speaking, homes listed during those times sell six days faster and for 0.7% more than the average annual home price.
- Overlooking extra expenses at closing
Make sure your real estate agent provides you with an estimated closing cost statement well before it’s time to hand over the keys. The average closing costs for a seller in California can be broken down into six categories:
- Real estate commissions
- Escrow Fees
- Title insurance
- County transfer taxes
- City transfer taxes
- Miscellaneous items
Home sellers throw thousands away by not requesting and confirming a list of fees and expenses prior to closing.
- Hiring an agent without an online presence
Since more than 90% of all buyers start their home search online, hiring an agent without an effective presence on the internet is another big home selling mistake. I’ve assembled an expert team that includes leading real estate photographers, professional writers, and internet marketing hotshots to showcase all my listings on as many platforms as possible.
Real estate marketing is all about promoting a seller’s property where buyers begin their search. I utilize both old school methods, such as direct mail, print ads, and open houses, combined with today’s online tools such as my comprehensive website and social media pages. Savvy agents like me use captivating images and video on their websites, and post pictures and info of their listings on their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, as well as in blog posts like the one you’re currently reading.
Moving Nightmares to Avoid
After you’ve sold your Montecito home in record time and for top dollar, you’ll want to look at some common home selling mistakes related to moving. Here are the top 6:
- Don’t try to wing it or a DIY your move
Even a move across town can be very complicated unless you plan in advance. Potential pitfalls can cause major wear and tear on your poor body as well as damage to your precious belongings. Make sure you plan for an organized move by using this moving checklist from Real Simple Magazine.
- Add “rush hour” to your timeline
Almost 40 million Americans relocate each year. That means most reputable movers get booked early, especially during the late spring and early summer months when half of all moving takes place. Your job is to plan ahead. Start planning three to four months before the scheduled move-in day.
- Get an estimate ahead of time
Familiarize yourself with the facts. Most movers offer two kinds of estimates: binding or nonbinding. The nonbinding kind gives you an idea of how much your move will cost based on the mover’s estimate of the size of your current home and its contents, and how far you’re moving. You get the estimate in writing and it can only be increased by 10%. A binding estimate is a legal document that clearly describes all the charges, which can’t be changed. Check out the latest comprehensive research regarding the moving company industry from ConsumerAdvocate.org.
- Double-check the mover’s insurance policy
If your mover doesn’t have enough insurance, you might end up paying for potential damage. Find out before you start what the moving process is and if your chosen mover has insurance and what their policy covers. Make sure they have workers’ comp insurance, too. Many small companies with fewer than five employees don’t, and that could mean you will be the one left holding the bill for an injury someone sustains in your home.
- Don’t forget to separate your non-movables
Pack your valuables carefully and plan to transport them yourself. Most moving companies won’t be held responsible for expensive items like jewelry, coin collections, documents or fancy cameras. If it’s fragile or extra special to you, you’ll probably want to take care of it yourself and keep it with you.
- Pack a survival kit
Your moving survival kit should include important items like scissors, a screwdriver, your address book, a flashlight, a map of your new town, your child’s can’t-sleep-without blanket, toiletries, pet food, a can opener, soap, coffee, toilet paper, and necessary medications for the entire family.
I hope this blog post regarding common home selling mistakes will help you when the time comes to list. If you’re looking to sell in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, call me at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. I’m all about the win-win and will happily add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home simultaneously!