“Why are you selling your house?” Although this might seem like a perfectly innocent query coming from a potential buyer, beware: This is one of the trickiest questions a seller can try and answer. The reason: Almost any explanation given is likely to contain revealing info that a buyer could use against you, and that could compromise your negotiating power.
Toward that end, sellers should let their real estate agents handle as much communication as possible with prospective buyers to prevent offers way below the listing price. On the off chance that you still might have to interact with a buyer who asks that loaded question, however, it’s a good idea to prepare a short, neutral response in advance. Here Realtor.com offers up some bad answers you’ll want to be sure and avoid.
1. I got transferred for my job
This is one of the most common reasons people sell their homes. In fact, 17 percent of people surveyed by the moving company Allied Van Lines said they’ve been relocated for a job. Revealing this to potential buyers, however, could make them think that you’re desperate to sell fast and, in turn, lead them to make a lowball offer.
2. Our family needs a bigger house
Trading up? Don’t relay that to home buyers. The reason is pretty simple: You don’t want to give them the idea that the house may not be enough room for them, either.
3. Now that our children have left the nest, we’re ready to downsize
Downsizing makes total sense for empty nesters and retirees, but you don’t want buyers to think that your house is too large and difficult to maintain.
4. We need a smaller mortgage payment
Never discuss your financial situation. You don’t want to give the impression that the house is too expensive or overpriced, and you also don’t want buyers to assume that your finances are in such poor shape that you’d accept a lowball offer.
5. We’ve already bought our next house
If you want to get top dollar for your house, don’t divulge that you’ve already purchased your next home. That makes the buyer think that there’s a sense of urgency and you have to sell quickly. That’s a valid assumption, considering that a lot of people can’t afford to carry two mortgages at once.
6. We want a quieter neighborhood
Never paint the neighborhood in a negative light. Even saying that the area is quiet could backfire. You don’t know what a buyer wants. For instance, some people are drawn to areas with a buzzing nightlife (and all of the noise that entails), or at least a place where the streets aren’t barren by 8 p.m.
7. We need to move closer to our parents to help care for them
Many people move to be closer to family, and in some cases, it’s out of necessity. However, there’s no need to share that information with buyers, because it suggests that you have to sell your home right away.
8. My back problems make it too difficult for me to climb the stairs
Many sellers move out of two- or three-story houses for health reasons. However, you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that there are a lot of stairs throughout the home since it could scare off older home buyers or buyers with young children.
9. Our utility bills are through the roof
Energy-efficient home features are all the rage nowadays, which makes sense when you consider that homeowners spend an average of $1,945 per year on their energy bills. But some home buyers still overlook utility costs when they go house hunting, so the very last thing you want to do is draw attention to the fact that your gas or electric bills are expensive.
10. The house is too difficult for us to maintain
No one wants to buy a money pit. So, even if you’re selling an obvious fixer-upper, don’t mention maintenance costs to a potential buyer. Also avoid talking about repairs that you just never got around to making, like redoing the bathtub caulking, as well as big projects like replacing the 20-year-old water heater—all reasons for buyers to think twice about making an offer.