Owners of million-dollar-plus properties make just as many mistakes when they sell their homes as their less affluent neighbors — with even more costly results, say Chicago brokers.

Among the top mistakes:

  • Most brokers agree that given the current plunge in the market, the biggest error is pricing the property too high.  Believe it….prices are softer.  The upper end market can weather this storm a bit more than other price points, but for all but the most financially secure, the carrying costs of having payments on more than one $5,000,000 home is straining on any budget!
  • Insisting on a pre-approval letter for every potential buyer who wants a showing,   This is too difficult for most buyers to go through and only warranted in the very top price point and co-operative apartments where required by the board. 
  • Another misstep: expecting to recoup the cost of very high-end amenities and décor.  $20,000 wrought iron spindle railings are just spindles in the eye of an appraiser.  Likewise, carpet to a buyer is just carpet.  Do not think your ultra up graded extra soft to the toes high priced carpet will bring in a top dollar.  Most everyone I know changest the carpet before they move into a home regardless if it is in “great” condition!  Upgrades help you sell, but you don’t necessarily regain the cost.
  • Dated Decor: “I just sold a town home for people who had spent $90,000 on inlaid doors and more on intricate marble work,” says Kim Jones, an agent with Baird and Warner. “Twenty years later, it’s very dated,” but the owners couldn’t understand why they couldn’t recoup that money.
  • Avant-garde decorating can repel high-end buyers.  Be aware that if you go for a very “out there” design scheme, you must be willing to enjoy it and not expect to recoup any or even most of of the cost.  When designers go over the top, it limits the number of people who will even consider buying
  • “Helicopter” owners are another turn-off.  Hire a good Realtor and then LEAVE during the showings!
  • Poorly maintained properties are another issue, even for multimillion-dollar homes. Some owners are so smitten with their house that they allow it to be shown without being perfect. In today’s market, there is no room for error or sloppiness; buyers are demanding ‘perfect’ in high-end properties.
  • Not neutralizing an interior prior to listing a home.  Even the 8,000 square foot homes need to be staged, or buffed up and neutralized so they appeal to a broad range of buyers. Consider hiring an interior designer brought in to rearrange furniture, hang art and spruce-ups the paint, landscaping, caulking or deep cleaning.  Yes, the new owners will repaint but you will get a better price for the home if you make it have the “wow” factor!
  • If you have prize photographs of you and your partner taken along side world leaders – remove them!  When you are selling your home, it is not appropriate to advertise your political affiliation.
  • Perhaps most startling, some sellers strip out top-quality light fixtures and hardware in their home and replace them with inferior versions.  This cheapens the property in the eyes of the buyer.  If you must take the heirloom chandelier in the dining room, replace it with one of equal or near value.  Home Depot decor doesn’t do it in the upper end market.
The main idea and direct portions of this blog are adapted from Business of Life By: Laura Bianchi April 21, 2008 ©2008 by Crain Communications Inc

All the ideas have been expounded upon by Carol Nasser