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NETAR president: Don’t fall into seller traps that blowup real estate deals

By ERIC KISTNER, president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors • Nov 30, 2017 at 1:29 PM

Homeowners marketing their properties this year have had a pretty good time of it. Sales are inching toward another record, and until October the average sales price increased every month. Inventory is tight, especially in price ranges where most local buyers are looking. But so far, the average price and tight inventory have not sparked widespread bidding wars you read about in other markets.

Maybe the best way to look at it is we’re in a soft seller's market.

That’s good news for sellers, but they shouldn't get overconfident. There are ample examples of those who have and ended up sabotaging a deal instead of squeezing more advantage out of negotiations. To that end, there's a lot of stuff on the web about seller strategies, but Realtor.com recently had a spot-on article, and it can be localized for our market. It capsules four common ways sellers blowup deals.

Getting greedy over fixtures

Sellers and their agents can derail a negotiations feud by setting some benchmarks before a property is ever listed. Sellers can simplify the process by making a list of what will and won't stay with the home. If there's something of special significance to the seller, it's a good idea to replace it before the first showing. And yes, there's always room for a "maybe" list. It gives buyers some wiggle room with the fate fixtures that can be negotiated or proffered as an incentive.

The key is being pragmatic and setting the ground rules to remove any potential deal breakers before showings and negotiations begin. The most successful sellers are those who remove any of their emotional triggers from the property. Selling can become an emotional process if a seller has too many emotional attachments to the property. Settling these types of questions before the listing helps keep the process on a business level.

Repairs disputes

In all but rare circumstances, your home will be inspected so the prospective buyer will get a list of anything the inspector finds. This is another item best handled before the home is listed. Savvy sellers spring for their own home inspection to see what they're dealing with. Armed with a list of everything the inspection finds they have a tool they can use to get ahead of any issues.

That gives the owners choice to fix ahead of time or put on a negotiations list depending on the strategy he or she wants to employ. A fast-easy sale could mean taking care of all the repairs before the property is listed. Even if the market is tight today's buyers may walk if sellers refuse to make repairs but try to price a property at market value. If there are items that will be negotiated, early knowledge and the opportunity to cost them out before listing is a good starting point.

Don’t start a bidding war

There probably isn't a seller out there who doesn't wish for three of four motivated buyers bidding against each other. But there's always the chance that a seller can lose the best offer when that happens. So far, multiple offers are common in our market, but bidding wars are not the norm. It's a good idea for sellers to have a strategy in place if they get multiple offers. The idea is to explain up front to the prospective buyers how you intend to handle multiple offers. Some of the best buyer candidates in today’s market don’t hesitate backing away from a deal if they feel like they’re being jacked around.

Staying adamant about the closing date

Closing date mechanics can be a headache. Buyers have issues that they must contend with just like sellers. Sometimes finding a middle ground is easy. Other times it can take almost as much give and take as it takes on price or fixture negotiations. The key is stay flexible and be prepared for compromises.

The most important consideration is to keep your Realtor® in the loop. Last-minute surprises are something you want to avoid, and that goes for your Realtor® partner.

Eric Kistner is the 20. The real estate education and trade group is the voice for real estate in the Tri-Cities and has over 1,250 local Realtor® members and almost 100 affiliates.

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