Top 7 mistakes to avoid when selling your home

Experts say it is important not to overprice a property, present a home in a poor condition or try to sell it on your own

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The UAE property market has recovered from the Covid-19-induced slowdown on the back of a faster-than-expected economic recovery, efficient handling of the pandemic, government initiatives, visa reforms and Expo 2020.

The current increase in global and local buyer demand for UAE properties has made it a seller’s market, say real estate experts.

In Dubai, the value of property deals more than doubled last year and broke a 12-year record in terms of sales transactions, according to listings portal Property Finder. The emirate registered 61,241 sales transactions worth Dh151.07 billion ($41.14bn) last year compared with transactions worth Dh71.87bn in 2020.

Luxury homes sales in Dubai last year hit their highest level since 2015, with 93 homes worth more than $10 million sold, consultancy Knight Frank said in a report this month.

We spoke to industry experts to help owners avoid common mistakes while selling their homes.

Overpricing the property

Pricing your property much higher than the market value will result in little to no interest, says Richard Waind, group managing director of real estate broker Better Homes.

“Contact a broker who specialises in your area to conduct a market appraisal on the property, review their feedback, analyse the statistics provided and ask for their marketing strategy on how to sell your home,” he suggests.

If you advertise your property at a higher price and then bring it down when you receive poor responses, buyers will probably notice the drop and conclude that the seller is desperate, says Ayman Youssef, vice president of real estate company Coldwell Banker in the UAE.

This move can ultimately put the seller at a disadvantage, he says.

Make sure that your asking price is slightly higher than the expected closing price, usually at a five per cent margin
Ayman Youssef, vice president of Coldwell Banker UAE

“Keep in mind that the prices the properties are listed at are most probably not the one they will be sold at,” explains Paul Christodoulou, chief executive of Aqua Properties.

Always leave some leeway for negotiation. This will allow buyers to feel satisfied that they have received a good deal, Mr Waind recommends.

“Make sure that your asking price is slightly higher than the expected closing price, usually at a five per cent margin,” Mr Youssef says.

Working with multiple brokers

Sellers often make the mistake of listing their property with several agents in the hope of finding a buyer quickly, says Lewis Allsopp, chief executive of Dubai-based broker Allsopp & Allsopp.

But information on each agent listing can differ and is often incorrect owing to a lack of consistent contact between the agents and the seller, which only devalues the asset, he adds.

“Exclusivity with one real estate broker ensures your property is marketed with one message. This will avoid the potential of a multitude of differing adverts of your property, some of which can even display a different asking price than you had agreed with your broker and used as clickbait,” Mr Allsopp says.

This can also lead to agents not acting in the seller’s best interests as they are rushing to complete a deal before anyone else, which can lead to more pressure on lower offers, he adds.

Buyers might also become confused when speaking to several agents who offer varying prices, says Mr Youssef.

Not presenting the property in sellable condition

Most buyers are looking for homes that are ready to move into, says HP Aengaar, chief executive of property management company Asteco.

“If the house is not well-maintained and there are unfinished or neglected repairs such as a leaking roof, squeaking doors or stained paintwork, buyers may ask for a lower price, resulting in a loss. Therefore, it is preferable to properly maintain the home, ideally through a professional service provider, to sell it for a higher price,” he suggests.

Well-maintained gardens, tidiness and a lack of odour are important factors during viewings, says Mr Allsopp.

Put the pets away, and avoid strong scents and having too many people in the house, he says. If your unit is vacant, it’s worth keeping on lights and air conditioning to make the space bright, cool and welcoming.

“Hire a professional photographer and videographer. If this isn’t an option, your smartphone can also do a good job, especially when combined with a tripod for stability while using the 0.5 zoom for wide-angle shots,” Mr Waind recommends.

Strong images of your home can make a real impression on potential buyers. A 360-degree video tour can also help to improve the listing, says Mr Aengaar.

If the house is not well-maintained and there are unfinished or neglected repairs such as a leaking roof, squeaking doors or stained paintwork, buyers may ask for a lower price
HP Aengaar, chief executive of Asteco

Not arranging for easy viewings

If the property is occupied by a tenant, it is imperative that the landlord maintains a good relationship with them to facilitate viewings, says Mr Allsopp.

“Make sure they are kept informed and allow access. Sellers need to be as open to viewings as possible to ensure a quick and efficient sale. If the property is vacant, the seller should supply the agent with a key,” he adds.

Inform your tenant in advance, explaining why you decided to sell and introducing them to your agent, Mr Waind suggests.

“Make sure you work with one broker only, so the tenant is not bombarded with requests from multiple agents. Agree on fixed timings for viewings; twice in a week should be OK.”

Rushing the sale

If you are not truly ready to sell and have an unrealistic timeframe to capitalise on a seller’s market, the entire process will become stressful and is likely to result in loss, Mr Aengaar says.

“Take your time and try to determine whether you are ready to sell for financial, emotional or professional reasons,” he adds.

Not having the right documents ready can delay the sale and cause the loss of offers already agreed on, Mr Allsopp says.

“Ideally, before a seller agrees on a sale, they should send the necessary documents to their agent. Sellers need to ensure they have paid their maintenance fees to the developer, have their title deed ready and inquire with their bank as to how much outstanding finance they have,” he says.

Not understanding financial obligations

To ensure you have everything covered, a seller must be aware of the settlement cost and NOC cost they need to pay, says Coldwell Banker’s Mr Youssef.

“Before setting the selling price on any property, the seller needs to find out what other costs are involved in the transaction and how they will affect the final selling price,” he says.

“These include a transaction cost of 4 per cent, NOC fee, trustee office fee and brokerage fee, among others. A seller needs to discuss these costs with the buyer and agree on who will pay what.”

Trying to sell the home alone

Trying to sell your home on your own is probably not a good idea, especially if you’ve never done it before, Asteco’s Mr Aengaar says.

Although brokers charge a commission, he says, it is better to hire a professional because they will help to determine a reasonable and competitive asking price for your home, increasing the likelihood of a quick sale.

“They can also assist you in removing unwanted buyers who are only interested in looking at your property and have no intention of making an offer,” Mr Aengaar says.

“Before hiring a broker, it is critical to ask them how many properties they have listed in the area, how many inquiries are currently active and how many transactions they have completed in the community.”

Updated: March 21, 2022, 4:29 AM