Doing anything for the first time can be daunting and stressful, especially for something as big — literally and financially — as owning your first home and eventually selling it. You don’t really know if you could be doing things better and by the end of it, you could end up having regrets. We don’t want that for you, so we’ve listed down other people’s regrets when they sold their homes for the first time in order for you to avoid making the same mistakes.
#1: Holding out for a better offer
Everybody wants to sell high, but it takes experience to recognise a serious buyer, especially if they don’t appear particularly well-to-do. Sellers will often regret holding out for a better offer that doesn’t quite materialise; rejecting a lower but reasonable offer for a more impressive amount.
The buyer with the higher offer may turn out to not have done their financial calculations properly and overestimated their ability to pay, or may decide not to buy your house at all. In worst-case scenarios, they could be pulling the old switcheroo by offering high so you will reject all other buyers, then start negotiating aggressively knowing you have now cleared the field of all competitors, and will be more likely to acquiesce to a much lower price.
Similarly, some sellers will ignore the first offer they get assuming it is merely the first of many, only to get a rude shock when they realise that first offer was the best they were going to get. However, going back to a buyer you have already rejected is tantamount to telling them your property isn’t as “in demand” as you thought and they may not offer you the same amount the second time round.
As such, most agents will tell you the most genuine offers usually come from buyers willing to sign the OTP and put down a deposit for your home.
#2: Being a “hardsell”
During viewings, let your agent show the house for you. While you may think no one knows your home the way you do, allowing your agent to show your house for you allows buyers to form their own opinions instead of feeling like they are being pressured to buy. (Also, they’re more likely to understand how to market the features of your home such that it convinces the buyers to say yes to the deal.)
You may feel your house is tranquil, while buyers may think it lacks amenities around the area. Remember that you have lived in your home for at least 5 years now (if it’s a HDB); you are emotionally invested in it, but buyers do not have the same attachment and you may come across as “hardselling” or give off desperate vibes.
#3: Trying to recoup your renovation costs
This is why we would caution against getting carried away with your renovations. Unless you intend to live out the rest of your life in your home, splurging on renovations is never a good idea, and trying to factor your renovation costs into your selling price, thinking buyers will appreciate a “beautifully renovated” home, is naive.
First off, design preferences are highly subjective, and you may get a series of buyers who love everything about your unit except the design. As such, your neighbour with a similar layout, but with a much simpler renovation, would be able to sell their unit much quicker than yours as buyers can save on large expenses such as hacking and stripping away all the extensive renovations you have done.
If your unit is not priced reasonably or competitively, especially in an area where the supply and demand is not in your favour, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.
#4: Moving out of the comfort zone
It might seem like a great idea to move out of an area you have lived in most of your life for somewhere cooler, say the city fringe, only to realise your new neighbourhood lacks your favourite shops and amenities, and you miss the old friendly faces you grew up seeing around your old neighbourhood. While it often takes awhile to get used to new surroundings, some sellers never get over the regret when they realise they have moved into a house that fits their current needs much better, but moved into a neighbourhood they simply cannot fit into.
Before you move out of your comfort zone, make frequent visits to the area you intend to move to get a more thorough “feel” of what it has to offer in terms of environment, people, conveniences, transport, and the vibe of the location, both in the day and night. This is important because if you are used to a vibrant area with bustling hawker places that open past midnight where you can meet up with friends for supper, you may be bored and miserable in a more affluent neighbourhood that shuts down after retail hours are over.
#5: Sell high, buy high
The logic is simple. If you sell in a seller’s market, and don’t have another place to live, then you are going to have to buy in a seller’s market too. It’s a great feeling when you sell your home at a record high, but that feeling will evaporate quickly enough when you realise your new house is going to eat up all that profit. If you didn’t already factor in all your stamp duties, legal fees, renovation costs and other miscellaneous expenses, you might end up making a loss instead.
On that same note, planning ahead will do you a world of good as you will need to have a replacement home pinned down, that is within budget after deducting all necessary expenses. While you can rent until you find a home that will allow you to turn a profit, that is hardly advisable as rent tends to rise along with a seller’s market.
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