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10 Home Selling Myths That Are Totally False

When you're putting your house up for sale, it's hard to know who to trust and what to believe. Here are 10 home selling myths with unbiased, research-backed explanations.

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Myth #1: Major renovations will help you get the best return on your investment when you sell your house.

It might seem counterintuitive, but minor upgrades will be more profitable than major ones when it comes to resale value. According to a 2018 cost vs. value survey, home sellers can probably kiss goodbye about 40% of what they spend on a kitchen remodel, 30% of a bathroom remodel, and more than 50% of a new patio, for instance. Smaller, high-impact upgrades like replacing your front or garage door, faucets, and cabinet hardware cost less and are proven to yield a higher return. And don’t overlook curb appeal: data suggests landscape upgrades could net you 100% or more of your spend. Read up on the quickest home upgrades that yield the biggest results..

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Myth #2: It’s fine to go ahead and list your house as is, without making any upgrades at all.

If you’ve been living in your home for a while, odds are you’re overlooking flaws that prospective buyers will pinpoint right away. Dull, worn-out flooring and dingy, discolored paint can be the difference between a family deciding to bid on your home vs. a similar one in the neighborhood. If you’re undecided, invite a real estate broker for a walk-through and a free evaluation. For the best resale value, consult Remodeling Magazine‘s annual cost vs. value report, which suggests the upgrades above and more. These 10 projects are the most affordable home improvements you can make.

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Myth #3: You should overprice your house at first to see how the market reacts and to leave room for negotiation.

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when putting their houses on the market is unrealistically inflating the asking price. History has shown that if your house is overpriced, the market will react by bypassing it in favor of a similar, more reasonably priced one—before you even get to negotiate. The best place to start when determining a realistic asking price is a market analysis. You can either hire a real estate agent to survey the asking prices of comparable houses in your area, or you can do the research yourself. This list of 14 things to know about how to price a house is a great place to start your home-selling journey.

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Myth #4: If you get an offer too quickly, it means your asking price is too low.

If you’re a home seller expecting to play hard ball, but you get an offer right away, it’s natural to think your house is under priced. But unless you’ve actively received a better offer, real estate professionals encourage you to consider the offer you have before questioning it. If you’ve done your due diligence evaluating the competition, it probably means your home is fairly priced and so attractive to buyers, they’re ready to snap it up.

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Myth #5: An “open house” is a crucial step in the home-selling process.

In a recent survey of home sellers, almost 85% said that open houses weren’t worth the time or energy. Another recent survey of real estate agents revealed that the majority of brokers do not even suggest open houses to their clients. And a survey by the National Association of Realtors found that only about 7% of buyers found the home they purchased via an open house. In short, open houses are probably a big waste of time.

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shutterstock_299270855-1200x1200 home covered in snow winter houseV J Matthew/Shutterstock

Myth #6: You should wait until spring or summer to sell your house.

Let’s say you need to sell your home right away—maybe you’ve already found your new house or you’re having financial troubles—and it’s mid-December. Although most home sales do take place in the warmer months, people DO buy homes during other seasons. The truth, according to experts, any season is the best season to sell your house, as long as you adapt your marketing tactics to the season in question. In the fall, for instance, make sure your curb appeal is still on point by raking leaves and planting fall foliage. In the winter, clear snow and ice and invest in outdoor decor.

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Myth #7: Home staging is something that’s only done on HGTV shows and isn’t very important in real life.

Designed to Sell may be one of your HGTV obsessions, but art imitates life in this instance. In a survey by the National Association of Realtors, almost half of new home buyers admitted that the way the home was staged influenced their decision to bid—and that they were likely to bid as much as 5% more. Typical home staging involves things like cutting clutter, rearranging furniture, eliminating personal touches like photos, and replacing minor decor elements. And since it can be done for less than $1,000, the ROI for home staging is pretty high.

While you’re at it, avoid these 35 things if you really want to sell your house.

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realtor buying a houseDragon Images/Shutterstock

Myth #8: Real estate agents always have your best interests at heart.

Though owners can successfully sell a house, most home buyers prefer to work with real estate agents. And although many agents are skilled, qualified and honest, it’s important to remember that hiring one is a business transaction. It’s safe to assume agents are working in their own best interest, as well as yours. But seller beware: Some suspect tactics to look out for include an agent who encourages you to under price your house, which will only make him or her look better when it sells over the asking price (this is why a competitive analysis is important), and agents who hold back offers. It’s always best to trust your gut first and foremost.

First-time seller? Here are some things you really should know.

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Myth #9: If I take a loss when selling my home, I can just write it off when I do my taxes.

If you lose money on the sale of your house, and you’re looking for a silver lining, don’t look to your accountant. That loss is considered a nondeductible personal expense, according to the IRS, and is not eligible for the capital gains loss of up to $3,000 annually.

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buyDragan Grkic/Shutterstock

Myth #10: I don’t need to worry about looking for a new place to live until my current home is in contract.

This one is tricky, because it all depends on timing and what your non-negotiables are. If you’re ok with the possibility of putting belongings in storage and renting in the event that you don’t close on a new house in time, then the above is not a myth. But if you’re expecting a seamless transition, it’s probably best to start looking for a new home simultaneously when you list your current one. There’s no guarantee of a seamless timeline no matter what you do, so it’s best to accept that there are really no myths or truths when it comes to buying and selling properties at the same time.