Tips for Home Selling October 22, 2020

Seller Tips | Don’t Make These Mistakes!

There are several mistakes you can make as a seller that can cause you real harm – during or after the transaction. A good real estate broker will guide you through the process making sure you don’t make these mistakes.

Seller Disclosure Blunders.

When you fill out the Seller Disclosure (Form 17) you want to make sure you do these 3 things:

  1. Answer every question. This is important because the Buyer has a right to receive a Fully Completed document. Once they receive the document, they have up to 3 days to get out of the agreement, based upon information contained in this document. If you leave an answer blank – because you don’t know the answer or just think it isn’t applicable – then the Buyer might be able to get out of the contract after all the other contingencies time periods have expired, and get their earnest money back until the day of closing. Imagine being ready to close on the sale of your home and the purchase of your new home and suddenly your sale contract fails and there is no penalty to the buyer. Ugh.
  2. Disclose What You Know. Sellers are not sued for providing too much information to the Buyer. While you aren’t obligated to research the answer to questions if you don’t know the information requested, you do need to provide as much information as you do know. For example – there is a question that asks “Has the roof leaked within the last 5 years” – if the answer is Yes, then note that and explain the circumstance.  Often sellers think that if the roof leaked, but they replaced the roof and resolved the problem, they don’t need to disclose the leak. Wrong.  What if – when the roof leaked it caused damage to another part of the home that wasn’t fixed when the roof was repaired or replaced.  If you tell the buyer about the leak, then you shift the liability to the buyer to obtain an inspection to determine if there are any problems that resulted from the leak that weren’t fixed.
  3. Disclose What You Don’t Know. We find that sellers often try to be so thorough, that they answer questions that they don’t really know the answer to, which could result in liability after the sale. For example, there is a question that asks “Does any part of the property contain fill dirt, waste, or other fill material”.  Unless you are the original owner of the home and monitored the property when it was built – you really don’t know the answer to this question.  “Don’t Know” is a reasonable answer to this and other questions. This shifts the obligation to the buyer to do their own due diligence to find out more about things they consider material.

Showing Missteps.

When you prepare you home for sale – you want to make it as appealing as possible to anyone that might tour your home. These simple mistakes could kill the deal….

  1. Leaving Very Personal/Religious/Political items on display. When you sell your home, you want it to appeal to as many prospective buyers as possible, this will help ensure that you are compliant with fair housing requirements and that you get the best deal for your home. Pack away personal items that show who you are (as this distracts the buyer from looking at your home), show the religion that you believe in (or don’t believe in), or your political views so you don’t deter a buyer who has different beliefs then you from making an offer on your home.
  2. Staying at the house while buyers tour the home. When a seller is at the house – the buyer is uncomfortable because it feels like they are intruding and this makes it hard for them to see themselves owning the house. In addition, some sellers talk to the buyers and don’t realize the impact of their comments. This is important during the showing & inspection stage of a home sale. For example, we had a seller who didn’t leave during the inspection and talked about her divorce and my pregnant buyer didn’t want to bring up her new baby in a “sad” house and terminated the contract. In another case, a seller talked about how sad he was to move away and downsize since it made him feel old – buyers felt like the wife was forcing the husband to move and they didn’t want to be a part of that and terminated the contract.

There are several mistakes you can make as a seller that can cause you real harm – during or after the transaction. A good real estate broker will guide you through the process making sure you don’t make these mistakes.

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.