“Why are you selling your house?” might seem like a perfectly innocent question for home buyers to ask, but watch out: If you’re the home seller they’re asking, this is one of the most complicated questions you can answer. The reason? Pretty much any explanation you give is bound to contain revealing info that these home buyers could use against you, thereby compromising your negotiating power. Here, Realtor.com offers 10 responses to avoid when communicating with potential buyers.
1. I got transferred for my job
This is one of the most common reasons why people sell their house. In fact, 17 percent of people surveyed by the moving company Allied Van Lines said they’ve been relocated for a job. Nonetheless, revealing this to home buyers 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 buyers 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 likewise, you don’t want home buyers to think that your house is too large and difficult to maintain.
4. We need a smaller mortgage payment
There are a couple of reasons why this response is a bad idea. First, you don’t want to give the impression that the house is too expensive or overpriced. Second, you don’t want home buyers to presume 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 net top dollar for your house, don’t divulge that you’ve already purchased your next home. This will make the home buyer think that there’s a sense of urgency and that you have to sell quickly, and 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
Steer clear of saying anything that could paint the neighborhood in a negative light. Even saying that the area is quiet could backfire. You don’t know what a home buyer wants. For example, some people are drawn to areas that have a thriving night life.
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 home buyers, since this suggests you have to sell your home quickly.
8. My back problems make it too difficult for me to climb the stairs
A number of home 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 elderly 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 home owners spend on average $1,945 a year on their energy bills. But some home buyers still overlook utility costs when they are 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
Even if you’re selling a clear fixer-upper, don’t mention maintenance costs to a home buyer. Also avoid talking about repairs that you just never got around to making, such as repairing the bathtub caulking or replacing the 20-year-old water heater—all reasons for home buyers to think twice about making an offer.