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Selling your house? The Seven Deadly Sins you should plan not to commit

You’ve heard of the Seven Deadly Sins. Now Realtor’s Lisa Johnson Mandell applies them to the sins home sellers commit.

With rising interest rates, rampant inflation, and the threat of recession having a domino effect on residential sales, real estate inventory is rising as homes linger on the market in many parts of the country. “Home sellers who’ve been wallowing in excess are no longer invulnerable, or able to subject buyers to their every whim,” says Mandell. That means the habits they’ve become accustomed to in a hot seller’s market could be downright deadly for a home sale today.

The first of the sins is greed. Says one former real estate agent in Birmingham AL, “Greed is alive and well,” according to Alison Smith Jones . “I like to keep up with the housing market in the area, so I am regularly checking out homes online, especially if they are located near our house. One in particular has been on the market for seven years—at the listing price of $4 million!” Mandell admits it doesn’t take an analyst to figure out that if the home were priced right, it would have sold by now. But these sellers have fallen prey to this most classic home-selling sin of all. One can only surmise they are not serious about selling their house at all.

The next is sloth. There are sellers who assume they need not lift a finger to improve the looks or condition of their homes before slapping it on the market. Even basic clean-up is not an issue for them. Food stuffs out on the kitchen island, dirty clothes hanging from bedroom furniture, and socks and underwear strewn about the floor in the primary bath. Josh Judge, a New Hampshire Realtor, reported this scene when touring a house with his clients. “It was as if we dropped by unexpected.” His clients passed up on making an offer, of course. And he reports that in fact no one made an offer on the place until the sellers decided to make a decent effort to clean it up. Whereas at the peak of the sellers’ market this may not have been the case, “Now, you have to put at least a little bit of elbow grease into the process,” Judge notes.

In any given neighborhood, the word gets around about how much homes have sold for. That prompts the self-directed question, “If they can get that for their home, what can I get for mine?” Mandell says trying to keep up with the Joneses in this way might not be realistic right now, and cites Texas Realtor Cliff Freeman. “Envy of a neighbor who sold for a high price can lead to disastrous results when selling your own home. Remember, home sales start with emotions but end with logic. The emotional decision to price your home based solely on what your neighbors sold for—without logically taking into account timing, condition, size, location, and other factors—will increase the risk of mispricing.”

Mandell adds that acting on neighbor envy could cause significant financial losses as a listing sits on the market with little activity and no offers. It spells the difference between a fast sale at a top-of-market price and an expired listing that may require a significant price reduction to reintroduce it into the market. Simply ignore your desire to top your neighbors.

If pride cometh before the fall, proud home sellers might assume their house is perfect as is—ignoring any suggestions by their trusted Realtor. One Beverly Hills agent reports having had a client who insisted on keeping their home awash in the color beige, which was awfully hot in the 1990s—but looks horrifically dated today. Same goes for tile countertops and flooring with dark grout, burgundy accent walls, or pink carpeting. It’s not that someone may not see past the dated decor. It’s just that you’ve narrowed down the number of (good) offers you might receive if you don’t listen to your Realtor, who is all about what is marketable and what is not.

Are you a glutton, holding out for more and more money after having seen what went on in one of the real estate industry’s hottest sellers’ markets over the past few years? With a frenzy of multiple offers being the norm instead of the exception to it, sellers often got more than was good for them, some with up to 14 offers on the table, all at full price or above. Realtors will tell you there are sellers who held out for more, keeping the bidding open one more week in an attempt to get a “better” offer—and that offer never came. By the time they circled back to the original 14, most had disappeared, and the offer that clinched it was merely the last one standing.

Realtors are carefully taught to handle buyer and seller emotions, since they can run rampant in any real estate transaction. Some sellers who let anger get the best of them behave incredulously at buyer requests, such as asking the seller to cover some of the closing costs. Indignant sellers often turn down these requests and end up having to accept another offer at a far lower price. Don’t leave thousands of dollars on the table just because of

your wrath at having to share a few costs, as lashing out can lead you down a dark path.

The last deadly seller sin is lust. Sellers often look beyond the here and now, falling in love with another home before they’ve sold their current one. This rarely ends well. Mandell offers the example of sellers accepting an offer on their current home well below what that home was truly worth, all so they could move out and into their highly desired new digs. She is sure the Realtor in this case would have instead recommended both patience as well as delayed gratification.

Realtor, TBWS