When you are getting ready to put your property on the market, there are a myriad of things to think about, to prepare for, and to organize. Here's a short list of some of the pitfalls to watch out for!

Deadly Mistake No. 1 - Pricing Incorrectly
Every seller wants to realize as much money as possible when he sells his home. But a listing price that is too high often gets the seller less than a price that is at market value. If your house is not priced competitively, people looking in your price range will reject your house in favour of other, larger homes for the same price. At the same time, the people who should be looking at your house will not see it because it is priced over their heads! Overpricing usually increases time on the market, and that adds to the carrying costs. Ultimately, many overpriced properties sell below market value.

Deadly Mistake No. 2 - Failing to "Showcase" the home
Buyers look for homes, not houses, and they buy the homes in which they would like to live. Owners who fail to make necessary repairs, who don't spruce up the house inside and out, touch up the paint and landscaping, and keep it clean and neat chase buyers away as rapidly as Realtors can bring them. If you were selling a car, you would wash it, or maybe even detail it to get the highest price. Houses are no different.

Deadly Mistake No. 3 - Using the "Hard Sell" during showings
Buying a house is an emotional decision. People like to "try on" a house and see if it is comfortable for them. It's difficult for them to do that if you follow them around pointing out every improvement that you made. It may even have the opposite effect you want, by making them feel they are intruding on your private space. Resist the temptation to talk the entire time a buyer is there... let them discover things on their own. Try a tasteful sign posted on a door or wall to point out some hidden amenity that they might miss.

Deadly Mistake No. 4 - Mistaking lookers for buyers
For Sale By Owners often get more activity than houses listed with an agent. Realtors will only bring qualified buyers, and these will be fewer than if you open your front door to everyone who walks down the street. A qualified buyer is one who is ready, willing, and able to buy your house. We find that most people who go looking at "For Sale By Owners" are just starting to think about moving. They may be good buyers, but they're just 6-9 months away from being ready. They don't want to bother an agent yet, so they call the "By Owner" ads to get a feel for what's available.

Many potential buyers may have a house to sell first, or may need to save some more or may have credit that needs fixing. When everything is in place, that's when they go out looking with a Realtor.

An agent will ask a buyer how much he can really spend for a house, how much he has to put down, how good his credit is, how much he can pay each month, how much he will realize (realistically!) when he sells his present home - and about a dozen other questions like that. But unless your Realtor finds out all the facts first, you must ask all these questions before the buyer crosses your threshold. Otherwise, you may have a parade of Sunday afternoon shoppers with a dream of owning a home someday.

Deadly Mistake No. 5 - Not knowing your rights AND obligations
Real estate law is extensive and complex; the Contract of Purchase and Sale is a legally binding document. An improperly written contract can cause the sale to fall through, or cost you thousands for repairs, inspections, and remedies for items included or excluded in the offer. You must be certain which repairs and closing costs you are responsible for. You must know whether the property can legally be sold "as is" and how deed restrictions and local zoning will affect the transaction. If there are defects in your title, or if your property is in conflict with local restrictions, you or your Realtor must remedy them, or you might have to pay plenty.

Deadly Mistake No. 6 - Signing a Listing Contract with no way out
Circumstances can always change, whether it's on the part of the listing salesman, or for you, the seller. Some realtors refuse to allow their clients to cancel their listings, they have to wait until it expires! In some companies, if your realtor is unable to manage your listing, the broker will randomly reassign your listing to someone else in the office! Always protect yourself by getting a guarantee of performance with the right to cancel. The Schacter Team guarantees that they will cancel the listing at any time you wish to do so.

Deadly Mistake No. 7 - Limiting the marketing and exposure of the property
The two most obvious marketing tools (open houses and classified ads) are only moderately effective. Surprisingly, less than 1% of homes are sold at an open house. Agents use them to attract future prospects, not to sell your house! Advertising studies show that less than 3% of people purchased their home because they called on an ad, and if a machine answers, most callers just hang up without leaving a message. Myself or my assistant will be there every time the phone rings. Did you know that most calls come in during business hours when vendors are away at work, and many home showings are between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday?

The right Realtor will employ a broad spectrum of marketing activities, emphasizing the ones he believes will work best for you and your particular property. There are dozens of more effective ways to find buyers than just open houses and advertising.

Deadly Mistake No. 8 - Believing that a bank mortgage appraisal is the market value of your house
An appraisal is an opinion of value for a certain purpose. If the lender wants to lend you the money, they are motivated to have the appraisal come in high. The appraiser may ignore lower priced foreclosure or distress sales in order to justify the higher value. But a real buyer in the real world will not ignore these properties. They are your competitors when you try to sell. I can't tell you how many ridiculous bank mortgage appraisals I've seen. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the value you were told even 6 months ago when you re-financed is what a real buyer would pay. Ask your Realtor for ALL the "solds" in your area, then decide.