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5 Fatal Mistakes To Avoid When Selling A Property

Here is another article from the folks at Spirepoint.

5 Fatal Mistakes To Avoid When Selling A Property

By Paul Blacquiere
You've decided to sell an investment property through your realtor. After filling out a few forms, and faxing a ton of financial details to them, it's finally done - your deal is LIVE on the MLS and you're just waiting for the offers to roll in.
And you wait.... and wait. There are showings, but no offers. Weeks go by. Still no offers.

How can that be? Can't investors see what an awesome deal your property is?
Maybe not...
There are many reasons why a property may not sell, or even receive any offers. Before listing a property, you should always check to make sure you're not making one of these 5 fatal mistakes...

Mistake #1 - Overlooking Curb Appeal

This is almost always the #1 deal killer, and will apply when you're selling a property or even just trying to rent an apartment. Have you ever scheduled a showing and the person didn't show up? Chances are they actually did... but kept right on driving by because of the way it looked from the front.
If the property looks terrible from the curb, many people won't even look inside. Spend the time and money to make sure the property looks its best from the outside. If the lawn looks rough, add some topsoil and seed. If the front door handle is old and rusty, replace it with a nice, firm, new one. Update the light fixtures. Paint the trim. All of these things don't cost much, yet can make all the difference.

Mistake #2 - Not Cleaning Your Place Up

I love dirty properties that are filled with garbage. Why? People don't know how cheap it is to remove trash and clean up a property, and even if they did, most can't envision what the end result will look like. The result? Most home buyers and investors are scared away, leaving an opportunity to negotiate a great deal.
So if you are selling your property, you should think the opposite way... make sure the inside of your property is as CLEAN as possible. The last thing you want to do is scare away any potential buyers because of trash or dirt.

Mistake #3 - Omitting The Benefit Of Upside Potential

Whenever you're selling a property, always remember that your buyer usually doesn't much about it, other than what you put in the MLS (or private) listing. If you're targeting an investor to buy your property, you'll mainly be focusing on upside potential - how much money the property will generate.
It's YOUR job to communicate the features and benefits of your deal! So don't forget to include things like:
  • Location - Does your location make it easy to rent? Are there new developments or transportation coming that make the area more desirable?
  • Utility costs - Can certain utility costs be offloaded to new tenants when the existing tenants leave? This can provide a huge boost to cash flow.
  • Equity - Are you selling the property below market value for a quick sale? If so, be sure to point out how much equity they are receiving.
  • Rent increases - Are some of your rents below market value? Make sure you point that out in the listing, as it can become an instant cash flow boost to the new owner during tenant turnover.
If you include the above items, you'll have a much better chance of get a higher sale price a faster sale than if you leave them out (which most investors do).

Mistake #4 - Listing At The Wrong Time

There are certain times of the year when real estate markets slow to a crawl. For example, during the Christmas season most people are shopping for gifts, not looking for a new home. Also, activity is dramatically reduced during the winter months (who wants to house shop when it's -35 degrees?) and the summer months (many people escape the city and head to the cottage).
If you choose to list your property at those times of the year, you can expect fewer showings and offers will be slim to none. Always try to list your property at the best time of the year - just before spring starts (end of March), and just before fall starts (end of August). You'll increase your chances of selling by ensuring the maximum number of sellers will be exposed to your property.

Mistake #5 - Surprising And Annoying Your Tenants With The Sale

If you're selling an investment property that already has tenants, there can be nothing worse than a tenant who is uncooperative and won't let the realtor in to show their unit. Yes, by law a tenant must let the landlord or their agent into the unit with advance notice, but what good is the law when your potential buyer has already walked away from the deal?
Tell your tenants up front that you're selling the property, and let them know you will do everything you can to ensure it's easy on them:
  • Schedule viewings together whenever possible
  • Give them proper notice, or
  • For trouble-making tenants, pay them cash
What? Pay someone to let them into YOUR building?
Yes, pay them.
Which would you rather have:
  • A sold property with a nice profit in your pocket (minus a few hundred dollars to make a grumpy tenant happy)... OR
  • An unsold property with no offers in sight because a bad tenant scares away potential buyers
The choice is easy... pay tenants to cooperate and close the deal.
While addressing the above 5 items doesn't guarantee your sale or your price, if you haven't taken care of them, you may find it tough to sell your property... even in a good market.
Remember to step into the investor buyer's shoes and think about what they would like to hear about - the features, the benefits, and the upside potential. If communicate those in a way that makes your deal more attractive than the next one, chances are you'll be cashing that cheque faster than other investors selling property.