I've only sold one home in my lifetime and it may be the last one. After going through the process of selling a home once and buying a home twice, I have decided to stay put through retirement in my current single-family home. Looking back on my experience as a seller, I realize I made a few fundamental mistakes that cost me money. I estimate my mistakes a first-time home seller cost me about $75,000.
Being too impatient to sell
My first mistake was selling my home when the real estate market was just starting to turn into a seller's market. I became overly enthusiastic about selling after my neighbor told me she made $10,000 on the sale of her home. If I could have waited another year to sell my home, I would have made $50,000, according to the Zillow estimates. Having an extra $50,000 to put down toward the purchase of my single-family home would have helped when the housing bubble burst. After a few years, I ended up with negative equity in my home.
Spending too much on upgrades
My second mistake was spending too much on upgrades. Although I can't be sure the home would have sold for the same price if I had not made the upgrades, I am fairly confident I would have been fine. Many of my neighbors didn't spend the $10,000 I spent on maple hardwood floors, and sold their homes for the same amount. I also spent $5,000 on upgraded kitchen cabinets that I know didn't help the sale of my home because the new owners ripped them out.
Taking the first offer
Looking back now, I regret taking the first offer on my home. I could have given it some time to see what other offers would be placed on the table. It turned out many of my neighbors with identical condo units had much higher offers in the months following the sale of my condo. Because I locked in on the first offer, I'll never know what might have been.
Being vague about what's included
Another thing I regret is being too vague about what was included in the sale of my condo. Because we didn't clarify that my drapes and certain chandeliers and light fixtures were not included in the sale, I had to let those items go. In was emotionally attached to a Tiffany lighting fixture that was given to my by a close relative. I should have asked the Realtor to write up the contract in a way that clarified that chandelier was not included in the sales price. I estimate I lost about $10,000 by not being more specific.
Assuming it would take months to sell
My final mistake was assuming the sale of my condo would take months or even a year to sell. I didn't expect it would sell in one day. Therefore, I didn't have a solid backup plan as far as a place to live. I ended up having to live with relatives while I waited for my new home to be constructed. I should have had plans in place in case the condo sold right away as well as contingent plans if the condo took longer than anticipated.
When it comes to buying and selling real estate, it's nice to break even but even better to come out slightly ahead. No one wants to feel as though they duped the buyer into purchasing something that wasn't worth what they bought it for. In my case, I felt comfortable knowing the new owners had a good investment on their hands.
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