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Selling a Home: Things to Look Out For

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In the world of real estate, you often see a lot of literature and expert advice on protecting buyers from scams. They are, after all, putting a lot of money on the line in a potentially risky investment. But what about you, the seller? You are parting with something that you certainly have equity in: your home. You at least want to pay off your mortgage before you move somewhere else, but you expect to turn a profit, as well. This is no easy position to be in, either, and there are certain things that you should look out for as a seller.


It is likely that you think your house is worth more than it actually is. You have lived there, decorated it, and adorned it with your memories, so you aren't going to be an impartial judge. This becomes a problem, however, when looking for a real estate agent. They could promise to get you your asking price even if it's unrealistic-- they just want your business, they'll appease you now and talk you down later. The real estate agent who tells you that you are asking for too much might be your best bet.

On the other hand, there are agents who will tell you that your asking price is too high because they want to sell your house quickly. Several thousand dollars fin losses for you only amounts to a few dollars in their commission. If they are looking to hit their monthly quota, they might not be concerned about getting you the best price.

It's incredibly important to find reputable real estate agents and get outside advice on the value of your property. Looking at comparable listings in your area and hiring a professional appraiser are two ways to get the right idea. You could also talk to someone with experience in the field who isn't trying to get your business.

Qualities to look for in a real estate agent

Agents should be competing for your business, not vice-versa. Anyone you talk to should give you a clear plan of action for how he or she is going to sell your house. There are web portals like that encourage competition between local agents for your listing, but keep you anonymous.

You should also be wary of long-term exclusive contracts. The agent should have some incentive to sell your place, at least within a few months. If you sign on for a year or more, you could get stuck with an inept or lazy agent with no legal way out.

Common scams

There are a few tricks that have been pulled over the years by buyers and real estate agents. Stay on your toes in situations like these:
  • If you are selling your house without an agent, you may get contacted by one on behalf of a "buyer." The agent might show up to your listing under the pretense of looking it over for his or her client and then try to force a contract on you. "If you sign with me, I can get my client to buy this place," he or she will say. Well, keep in mind that, first of all, no real estate agent can make anyone do anything. Secondly, this person may not even exist, and the agent is just scamming you into an exclusive contract.
  • A buyer may have a gargantuan list of problems with your house that he or she presents to you with his or her offer. It might be worth it to just move on from this situation. This is most likely a tactic to get you to lower your asking price, and you have no reason to think that this kind of behavior won't continue all the way through the closing process.
  • If someone makes an offer on your house without actually coming to see it, be wary. If you take your house off the market for this potential buyer, you may find that the offer wasn't legitimate at all, and you will have lost precious time.
So, there are a number of ways that a seller can get taken for a ride. The housing market can be a tricky thing to navigate. The important thing is to keep your eyes peeled, do your homework, and have reliable experts (real estate agents and lawyers) to help you through it.

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on May 14, 2010

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