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Study: Some Home Sellers Regret Pricing Homes Too Low

sale moneySome 84% of Americans who sold a home for the first time in the past two years wish they had done something differently, according to a new Zillow survey conducted online by The Harris Poll. The reports finds that even in a sellers' market, many recent first-time sellers have regrets about the pricing, timing, or marketing of their home.

Homeowners looking to list their home for sale this spring can set themselves up for success by anticipating and avoiding these four common regrets of first-time sellers.

Regret #1: Pricing incorrectly

The most common thing recent first-time home sellers wish they had done differently is set a higher list price (39%).

But today's market is different. Pricing a home too high could lead to a slower sale or force the seller to drop their price. The median time on the market is now 73 days nationwide, but well-priced listings that find a buyer take only 31 days to go under contract. In January, nearly 1 in 4 listings had a price cut (22%), which is 10 percentage points higher than last winter. That's why nearly 3 in 4 agents believe pricing is the most important thing sellers need to get right in a less frenzied housing market.

"This spring's sellers are more likely to regret pricing their home too high," said Zillow senior economist Nicole Bachaud. "The price their neighbor commanded a year ago may no longer be realistic. They need to adjust their expectations if they want to avoid having their home linger on the market. It's more important than ever for sellers to rely on the advice of a great local agent who understands their neighborhood and has a winning pricing strategy."

Regret #2: Ignoring online curb appeal 

Nearly 9 in 10 recent first-time sellers think something could have helped them get a higher sale price than they received (87%). Almost 2 in 5 (39%) think better listing photos could have boosted their bottom line, while 1 in 4 recent first-time sellers (25%) think a virtual tour could have helped sell their home for more.

Most prospective buyers shop for homes online, meaning sellers can't ignore online curb appeal. A listing media package that includes professional high-resolution photography and drone photography helps showcase a home's best features. However, today's buyers expect an even more immersive experience. Listings that also include a 3D home virtual tour or an interactive floor plan get 69% more page views and 80% more saves on Zillow.

Regret #3: Bad timing 

One-quarter of recent first-time sellers (25%) wish they had listed their home at a different time. While the best time to sell will always depend on a homeowner's personal circumstances, if the owner has flexibility, the second half of April is the optimal time to list a home for sale nationwide, Zillow research shows.

Timing the sale of a home with the purchase of a new one is one of the biggest stressors sellers experience. More than one-third of recent first-time sellers wish they had known how long — or how quickly (36%) — it would take to sell their home. Nearly 2 out of 5 recent first-time sellers (37%) say selling their home on their timeline and/or with a flexible closing date or selling their home quickly was their top priority, more than the share of sellers who prioritized getting top dollar (26%).

If timing is the top priority, sellers should explore all their options. On Zillow, homeowners will be able to request both a cash offer from Opendoor and an estimate of what their home could sell for on the open market through the Zillow Premier Agent program. Sellers in Atlanta and Raleigh can now see these options on Zillow, with more metro areas coming in the next few months.

Regret #4: Skimping on repairs 

Sellers gearing up for the spring home shopping season need to roll up their sleeves and spruce up their homes if they want to attract bids from a smaller pool of homebuyers. More than one-quarter of recent first-time sellers (25%) think they could have gotten a higher sale price if they had invested in more home improvements and repairs.

"The right projects can pay off," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert. "Sellers need to think strategically about their return on investment before diving into repairs and renovations. Landscaping, interior painting and carpet cleaning are the most commonly completed seller projects for good reason. They boost online curb appeal and send a powerful signal to a buyer that a home is well-maintained."

Roughly two-thirds of recent first-time sellers (66%) took on at least two home improvement projects to prepare their home for sale. Nearly 8 in 10 recent first-time sellers (78%) believe the projects they completed helped their home sell.

To read the full report, including more data and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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