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The 7 Deadly Pitfalls When You Sell Your Home Yourself And How to Avoid Them!

Deadly Pitfall #1: “Failing to Obtain a Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter from a Prospective Buyer"

There are tons of horror stories out there among homeowners who have tried to sell their own home only to have a buyer tie up their home for 3 to 6 months trying to get financing. Because of anxiousness to sell, homeowners fail to find out ahead of time, before any contracts are signed, whether the buyers have made arrangements for a loan or whether they have even talked to a lender at all.

85% of buyers in the market to buy a home today do not know how much they can afford, according to lender guidelines for home loans. It is very disheartening when a homeowner finds out the buyer cannot get a loan to complete the sale. Even though you may feel uncomfortable doing so, you must be firm in getting information out of buyers, as to their ability to get a loan.

Do not tie up your home in a contract until the buyer has brought you a letter from their lender stating they are pre-approved, not pre-qualified. There is a difference. "Pre-approved" means the buyer has been approved for a loan by the underwriter (the person who says yes or no) and the money is waiting for them once the house is approved. Pre-qualification is the loan officer’s opinion as to whether the buyer qualifies for a loan. The loan officer does not make the loan decisions. They only take the buyers’ information and pass it on.

Taking this advice could prevent months of headaches, loss of time and money, and the turning away of other buyers who may be much more qualified to buy your home.

Deadly Pitfall #2: Becoming a Target of a Bargain Hunter

Watch out for the bargain hunters. Owners, who try to sell their own home, are prime targets of bargain hunters who will try to high-pressure you into taking offers far below market value. In other words, they want to steal your home. They are, normally, excellent buyers who either pay cash for your home or have large down payments. Do not let the dollar signs intimidate you. Stick to your guns!

Deadly Pitfall #3: Neglecting to do Necessary Research

Make sure you do lots of market research before you price your home. Try to find a minimum of 3 homes similar to yours that have sold in the past 6 months. Also, try to find at least 3 homes that are currently for sale, that are similar to yours. These homes are your competition. If the other homes offer more for the money, your home will sell your competition.

Pricing your home in the fair market range is critical to your success. Many homeowners get greedy and grossly overprice their homes. This destroys the marketability of a home. Do not rely on rumors or what your neighbor said. Verify every sales price at the local property appraiser’s office. For Sarasota, FL, you can go online at to search the address of the property for you want a sold price or you can call them at 941-951-5650. They are very good at helping you find what you want. This will let you know if the neighbor is being truthful, or if they are stretching it.

At the other end of the spectrum, some homeowners price their homes too low. They fail to get the fair price they are entitled to. The asking price should be at the upper end of the fair market value range with the homeowner expecting to get a price that is in the middle of the fair market value range. Paying for a professional appraisal will help immensely! Then you have something to show potential buyers the value of your home.

Deadly Pitfall #4: Failing to Watch out for the “Stalkers”

These are dishonest people who come through your home to see what they can come back to steal at a later time, when you are not home. They will appear to be very legitimate buyers. Always ask to see a potential buyer’s’ drivers license. If he refuses, do not let him into your home. Explain the reason you want to see a driver’s license. If he is a legitimate buyer, he will be more than happy to show it to you. Write down the name and driver’s license number. This could mean the difference between being safe and being robbed.

Deadly Pitfall #5: Be Prepared to Lose an Amount Equal to a Real Estate Sales Commission

Buyers who look at homes for sale by the owner know that the seller is trying to save the real estate commission, and take this amount off the top before they even start to negotiate with you. Decide how you intend to handle this problem ahead of time. A home is worth only so much, regardless of who sells it!

Deadly Pitfall #6: Letting Prospects Pressure You

Be prepared for phone calls late at night and very early in the morning. Some potential buyers are only concerned about one thing: their own needs. They will try to pressure you into showings at times that are convenient for them, but may be very inconvenient for you. Don’t be so anxious that you let them control you. Be friendly and kind, but be firm. If they are really interested in looking at your home, they will be accommodating. Experience has shown that the high pressure, pushy buyers are the ones that are the time wasters.

Deadly Pitfall #7: Trying to Imitate Traditional Real Estate Companies

Do not fall into the trap of trying to copy what the traditional real estate companies do in marketing your home. Do not spend the money, you are trying to save, on display ads placed among the traditional real estate companies’ ads. Studies have shown that owners who sell their own home and place ads in the classified section under” homes for sale” will get five times more calls than those who run ads in the display section.

Be creative in your marketing. Look to other industries, which use good marketing, to pattern your marketing after. Advertising only sells 5% of the homes advertised (statistically proven by the National Association of Realtors).

Statistically, only 1% of realtor open houses sell. Why would you want to have your home open for 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon, only to have potential buyers come straggling through and never buy?

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  mary bernas, Florida luxury real estate expert
Mary Bernas
Cell: 941-376-8396
Fax: 941-387-9254
Michael Saunders & Co.
330 John Ringling Blvd
Sarasota, FL 34236
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