You know that expression about loose lips sinking ships? It holds true for selling your home as well. Sure, there are some things you have to disclose to buyers—such as if your home has lead paint or is located in a flood zone. But there’s plenty more you might volunteer when you would be truly better off keeping your mouth strategically shut.
Your home is your castle, and in your eyes it may seem perfect—but don’t make claims that aren’t true, says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker.
“The home inspection may reveal otherwise, and, as a seller, you don’t want to wind up putting your foot in your mouth,” she explains. Bottom line: “There simply is no such thing as ‘perfect condition.’ Every house, whether it is brand new or a resale, has something that needs to be fixed, adjusted, replaced, or improved upon.”
‘It’s been on the market for X…’
Never, ever discuss how long the home has been on the market with prospective buyers, says Pam Santoro, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. This info is often listed and available on the home’s information sheet, but bringing it up—especially if the home has been available for eons—can send sellers the wrong message. No one wants to buy a white elephant—and, if they do, it’s probably because they think they’ll be getting it dirt-cheap.
‘We’ve never had a problem with…’
If you’re hoping to move quickly, you may be tempted to tell a few little white lies. So you never had a problem with weird neighbors, eh? Or flooded basements? Or vengeance-seeking poltergeists? Realtors agree that your mistruths—however insignificant they might seem—could come back to you with teeth.
“You’re setting yourself up for potential liability,” explains Ameer. “You may not even be aware of the problem at first, but it could translate into an embarrassing moment upon inspection.” So come clean with what you know and admit what you don’t.
‘We always wanted to fix/renovate that, but…’
Tempted to mention, “We always thought about knocking this wall down and opening the space for more light?” How about “We planned on renovating this bathroom but ran out of cash”? Mum’s the word when it comes to fixes you intended to address. Nobody cares about good intentions.
“When sellers point out things they might change, this only alerts the buyer of more upcoming costs for them,” says Maryjo Shockley, a Realtor with Keller Williams. Who knows? Your buyers may not even want to knock down that wall or redo the bathroom. So why plant those ideas, along with those dollar signs?
‘We spent a ton of money on X, Y, and Z’
Just because you love the Brazilian koa wood flooring you installed throughout the first floor, that doesn’t mean prospective buyers will be willing to shell out for it.
“The buyer doesn’t care whether you spent $10,000 or $100,000 on your kitchen,” says Ameer. “They are only going to offer what they feel the home is worth in relation to area comparable sales.” So, save your breath, or else you’ll risk sounding like you’re trying too hard to justify your price. Desperation isn’t cool.
‘I’m not taking less than X amount for my home’
When it comes time to sell, it makes sense that you want top dollar. We get it! But at the same time, it’s important to be realistic and open to offers within a reasonable range.
“If you send a message that you are inflexible or not open to negotiating, it may not invite buyers to even try to work out acceptable price and terms as they will feel defeated from the start,” says Ameer. “Word may spread that you have this sentiment as a seller, and people may start to avoid the house.”
Liz Alterman is a writer who's covered a variety of subjects, from personal finance issues for CNBC.com to career advice for The Muse.
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