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Avoiding Common Selling Mistakes in the DC Housing Market

illustration about a house that it's being sold
December 10, 2019 DC Housing Market

Are you looking to sell a home in the Washington, DC area for the highest price in the least amount of time?

Real estate is always hot in DC. Many homeowners think selling their homes is as easy as putting a sign outside and accepting offers. But there’s much more to it than that. Going it alone is a risky proposition.

No matter how much you know about the local market or how well you can negotiate, a number of common mistakes will keep you from selling.

Whether you’re in Virginia, Maryland, or the District, the following suggestions will help you sidestep mistakes to get the best price and the least amount of days on the market.

Mistake #1: Not Using a Real Estate Agent

Even if you’re a shrewd negotiator and think you have everything together, not using a real estate agent is the biggest mistake you can make when selling your home.

No matter how much you think you know about the DC real estate market, a good real estate agent has the expertise and tools to get your home sold quickly at a fair price.

Here are just a few things you’ll have to handle if you sell your house on your own:

  • Listing the house in the MLS
  • Fielding phone calls day and night from interested buyers
  • Showing the home
  • Staging your home to make it more attractive
  • Pricing to sell
  • Dealing with mortgage brokers and other real estate agents
  • Getting legal documents from the local courthouse

Most of us don’t want to handle these things. While you may think you’re saving money by selling your own home, real estate agents earn their commission. They will work day and night to get your house ready to sell and negotiate what’s best for you.

Mistake #2: Not Pricing Your Home Correctly

Selling a home—especially one you’ve lived in for a long time—is an emotional experience, even for the most unemotional people. Sometimes this emotional connection means that you will price your home based on what it means to you and not the fair market value.

It’s true that the DC real estate market continues to have higher than average home prices, but that doesn’t mean you can price a house for whatever you want.

The only way to determine the proper list price for your home is to compare it to similar homes in the area. Homeowners traditionally look to tax assessments to come up with a price. Still, in light of the wildly fluctuating home values that are common today, these no longer give an accurate picture of your home’s value.

Another problem that homeowners run into when pricing their home is basing the sales price on the amount of money they have a need for.  This is a dangerous game, as potential buyers don’t care about how much money you need but about the home’s market value. The more they feel they are getting for their money, the more likely they will buy.

Mistake #3: Home is Not Ready to Sell

Preparing a home for sale is not always as easy as it looks. Unless you’re willing to give away thousands of dollars in concessions or lower your sale price, you’ll need to do a couple of things to make your home ready for market.

These include:

  • Making any major repairs needed
  • Decluttering the home
  • Staging your house to make it more attractive to buyers
  • Cleaning up outdoors to give your home curb appeal

Be sure to consult with your real estate agent before taking on any of these tasks. Some repairs can be quite costly, and the amount of money you’ll have to spend may not be worth the extra money you’ll get at the closing table, so make sure that the repairs you’re making are worth it in the end.

Selling your home is a big deal. And while you may think a little elbow grease and listing the home on the MLS is enough to get it done, this is usually not a case. Be sure to work with a Realtor who knows your neighborhood, as well as the DC market in general.

They’ll be sure to market and price your home appropriately to get it sold in the least amount of time for the best price.

Good luck and happy selling!

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