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Selling your home is a major undertaking.
Inspections, negotiations, paperwork – there is a lot to navigate. A reliable, competent real estate agent is your biggest ally in this.
However, no matter how professional and honest your agent is, there are some things you should avoid telling them. These details – even if shared inadvertently – are likely to bring down the price for your home.
Here are the 5 most important things to keep mum about.
1. The True Minimum Price You Will Accept
Never disclose the actual minimum amount you’d be satisfied with. Otherwise, it’s likely that your agent won’t aim any higher.
That’s because marketing your property, evaluating buyers, and negotiating contracts all take time and a lot of effort on the agents’ part.
For their work, agents usually receive a 1.5% commission. If your home sells for $220,000, their share is $3,300. But if you’ll go as low as $200,000, they’ll still walk away with $3,000.
From the agent’s point of view, there’s no sense in doing a lot of extra work for an additional $300 if they can sell your property faster for less.
2. Distress, Divorce, Time Pressure
Don’t let your agent know you’re in a hurry.
Whether the reason is financial difficulties, illness, divorce, family issues, or because you have to move for work – keep it to yourself.
Buyers will take advantage of any details indicating that you’re pressed for time or cash to bring down your price.
Even if your agent only uses a phrase such as “offered by a motivated seller” in your listing, it encourages buyers to make offers well below market price.
Similarly, don’t try to speed things up by insisting on shorter listing agreements. Giving your agent only a month to sell your property before walking out will scare off serious agents.
That’s not only too short to make a decent sale – it’s also a red flag that you might bail on them.
3. Death (and Other Unnecessary Disclosures)
In most places, you’re obliged by law to disclose any material defects your property has, from lead paint to mold. It’s crucial to be forthcoming with your agent about these – otherwise, you might be facing a lawsuit later.
However, don’t advertise negative information you’re not legally required to share. No matter if a major infrastructure project is likely to be built nearby, or if your neighbors are suspected, heroin dealers.
The same applies to deaths on the property. Some states do require you to disclose deaths within a certain time frame. If yours doesn’t, it’s better to keep any information about who died in your home – and when – to yourself.
4. Limits on Who Gets to Buy Your Home
Setting requirements about who gets to buy your home can get both you and your agent into trouble.
In 1968, federal equal housing laws were passed in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. That means it’s illegal to discriminate against potential buyers because of their religion, race, sex, and other personal factors.
Consequently, if you instruct your agent to dissuade a black couple, a Muslim couple, a gay couple, or even a family with children from making an offer, you could be facing a discrimination lawsuit.
5. You Can Wait
Finally, while you shouldn’t appear pressed for time, don’t tell your agent that you’ve got plenty, either.
For one, if selling your home isn’t a priority for you, your agent is unlikely to make it theirs. They’d be right to assume that they don’t have to put in their full effort.
For another, the sales price of properties usually decreases with the time they’re on the market – so don’t let your listing linger too long.
At the end of the day, a competent agent is an invaluable ally when you’re selling.
By being forthcoming about crucial matters, but careful about sharing any potentially sensitive information, you’ll be able to work together to sell your home for the best possible price.