A whopping 84% of Americans who sold a home in the past two years wish they could go back in time and do something differently, according to a new study from Zillow. The report states that, even in what is currently a sellers' market, many first-time sellers regret how they priced, listed, or marketed their homes.
Selling a home can be expensive and risky for first-time sellers. To ensure success this spring, here are four mistakes to avoid:
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1. Pricing Incorrectly
The most common complaint among first-time sellers is that they wish they had set higher prices. This may shock some, considering that during the pandemic, nearly every for-sale home was commanding sky-high prices.
However, with the housing market cooling off for now, pricing too high could result in the sale taking longer or could cause the seller to have to drop their price in the long run. In January, about one in four listings experienced a price cut, which is a 10% increase from last winter. Agents agree that pricing is vital in the current housing market, and 75% deem it the most influential factor.
"This spring's sellers are more likely to regret pricing their home too high," said Zillow Senior Economist Nicole Bachaud. "The price their neighbor commanded a year ago may no longer be realistic. They need to adjust their expectations if they want to avoid having their home linger on the market. It's more important than ever for sellers to rely on the advice of a great local agent who understands their neighborhood and has a winning pricing strategy."
2. Ignoring Online Curb Appeal
Interestingly, 87% of recent first-time sellers believe they could have received a higher sale price. Almost 40% think that better listing photos could have increased their profit, while 25% of these sellers feel that a virtual tour could have done the same.
Prospective buyers often search for homes online, making digital curb appeal critical. Though professional photography can make a significant difference, Zillow reports that listings with a 3D home tour or interactive floor plan receive 69% more page views on the site.
3. Bad Timing
One of four recent first-time home sellers wishes they had listed at a different time. To get the best results, owners should list their homes in the second half of April, according to research by Zillow. Of course, the best time to sell will depend on the individual's circumstances.
Buying a new home while selling an existing one is, understandably, a stressful experience for first-time sellers. Over one-third of sellers weren't aware of how long the process would take. On the other hand, almost 40% wanted their homes sold quickly and on their own timelines, which is surprisingly more than the 26% of sellers who focused on getting the best price.
4. Skimping on Repairs
Sellers aiming to attract buyers in the spring real estate market should prioritize home improvements and repairs to achieve higher sale prices. Recent data suggests that over a quarter of first-time sellers feel that they missed out on potential gains by not investing enough in home upgrades.
"The right projects can pay off," said Zillow's Home Trends Expert Amanda Pendleton. "Sellers need to think strategically about their return on investment before diving into repairs and renovations. Landscaping, interior painting, and carpet cleaning are the most commonly completed seller projects, for good reason. They boost online curb appeal and send a powerful signal to a buyer that a home is well-maintained."
If you're thinking of tackling a home improvement project, you're not alone — two-thirds of sellers recently completed two or more home improvement projects to increase their home's salability. And the proof is in the pudding: More than 80% of sellers feel that they benefited from these improvements, getting their homes to sell.