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How Home Sellers Blow a Sale

Thursday, September 15, 2005 posted by Tommi Crow

Your house is finally Under Contract. Your hard work paid off. You don’t have to “stage” for that sterile model home look each morning before you go to work. No more strangers snooping through your closets and drawers. It’s all down hill from here. You have nothing more to worry about…right?

Wrong. House contracts fall through on a routine basis. The reasons people contract for a property, but do not close on it vary, but the result for the seller is the same…Your House and Life are Back on the Market.

Today, we look at the biggest mistakes sellers make that can blow the deal apart.

Misunderstanding the Buyer’s Offer. Carefully review and understand the contract to purchase. How high is the buyer’s deposit? What part of the buyer’s closing costs are you responsible for? Is the offer contingent upon some event? Is the buyer qualified for the financing to purchase your home? What happens if they take your home off the market and do not close? When does the buyer get possession of your home?
Inspection Repair Requests. Homes are not perfect. They all need a few touch ups here and there, but nothing causes sellers and buyers more grief and hard feelings. Know what repair allowance and time specifications are in the contract? What type of repairs should the seller pay for? If the inspection doesn’t go well, what is maximum amount of money you must spend? Are any repair items listed in the special conditions section of the contract? What types of repairs qualify as necessary versus cosmetic?
Withholding Information from the Buyer. While it is tempting to fail to mention a downside of living in your home, it is always best to give the buyer a full disclosure. Perhaps your home is located in an area prone to floods or earthquakes. Maybe you had a fire in the kitchen at one time. Or, the canal behind the house is home for crocodiles. It is always best to give buyers full disclosure. Some types of information can greatly affect the value or desirability of your property, and thus, the buyers desire to close. If you withhold pertinent information and the buyer closes without finding out, you can still be sued at a later date for any failure to disclose material facts. Be straight up. It will benefit you in the long run.
Poor Communication with your Agent. Sellers should take a pro-active approach to selling their home. Do not rely solely on the agent. Insist upon regular updates about the house, status of the buyers loan process, dates of appraisals and inspections, and, any changes to the original offer to purchase. Never assume your agent has taken care of everything. Ultimately, it is your house and your responsibility to ensure that everything is running smoothly and all representations are truthful ones.
Not Reading the Closing Statement Beforehand. To avoid last minute errors or surprises, carefully review the closing statement before the day of closing. Look for details on your loan balance payoff, repairs, closing expenses, including proration of taxes and insurance. If you can, get a copy of an estimated closing statement a couple of weeks prior to closing and compare it to your final statement.
Blowing the Buyer’s Final Walk Through. The Buyer and their agent will inspect the property prior to closing. Make certain all seller required repairs are complete and provide receipts for materials and workmanship. Cut the lawn and broom clean the interior before the buyer arrives. Remove all of your trash and belongings. It is not the responsibility of the new homeowner to clean up after you and leaving them a mess is a breach of your contract. Double check that all “real estate” items are intact and are left with the property. As a general rule, if its attached and would leave a hole when removed, it’s real estate. Thousands of buyers walk each year because a light fixture has been switched out or a basketball goal has been removed. Don’t lose your sale over a item that would only cost a little to replace.