Selling a home should be a joyous process—where you show off your digs to enamored buyers who shower you with offers that far surpass what you paid for the place originally. That’s the dream, anyway. And yet, all too often, the home-selling process is fraught with pain, surprises, and no small amount of post-sale regrets. As proof, peruse these cautionary tales of real-life home sellers, and the lessons they learned.
Moving in with Mom and Dad
Last year, Nick Braun sold his Columbus, OH, home … while his new home was still being renovated. The combination of lousy planning and poor timing meant Braun had to move out of the old house and pay to store his furnishings as he waited for the new house to be ready. “My family and I lived in my parents’ house for over three months!” says Braun.
Lesson learned: “It’s difficult to plan perfect timing when you’re selling and buyingand renovating,” says Carolina Chia, a Realtor® at New York’s TripleMint Real Estate. But you can mitigate this risk by including a contingency in your contract saying that your new digs must be ready before you move out of your old. Or else, arrange to have other interim living arrangements in place. “And there’s always the option of leasing back from the buyer until the renovations are finished,” says Chia.
You see ‘homey,’ they see clutter
Rachel Ryan learned a hard lesson when she sold her first home in Hanahan, SC. “My house was sparkling clean, but there was a lot of stuff that drew attention away from the home’s key features,” says Ryan. “What I thought looked homey actually made the house seem cluttered and disheveled.” That mistake chopped tens of thousands off Ryan’s sale price. Ouch!
Lesson learned: Potential buyers have to be able to envision themselves living in a home, says Erika Dalager, at the home staging site roOomy. She advises sellers to remove as much clutter as possible and refrain from displaying personal items like family photos. Instead opt for neutral décor that showcases the space without overpowering it.
Why didn’t we fix that sooner?
Like many people, Chris Brantner put off nagging updates he’d wanted to do in his first home in Houston, TX, because of the cost. When it came time to sell, he did them all, to get a good sale price. “And guess what? We didn’t want to leave!” says Brantner.
Lesson learned: “Don’t wait to fix your home up until right before you sell!” says Brantner. “Our experience would have been so much better had we just done the updates.” Remember, many renovations that seem pricey have a great return on investment, so do them now, and they’ll pay off later. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the improvements yourself!