Real Estate Agents Answer: What Are The Worst Mistakes Sellers Make?

Selling a home is an emotional process, one that can make sellers susceptible to all sorts of pitfalls along the way. In an effort to help make the transition easier, we asked top real estate agents to point out the biggest mistakes that sellers make. Read them over so you don’t fall into the same traps.

Forgetting about curb appeal:

“If you can’t get the buyer’s through the front door, any interior improvements might not matter. Take time to lay new sod, plant hedges, or colorful flowers to create an inviting entrance to the home and set the stage for your buyers to fall in love. The old saying still reigns true: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

– Les Waites, Agent, The Keyes Company

Pricing your home too high:

One of the biggest mistakes a seller can make is to price their home high. Sellers will think they can always reduce the price if needed. However, the problem with this approach is the home will sit on the market until the home is priced right and it may become stigmatized. Price your home right  from the start – based on comparable recent sales, upgrades, and condition – and it will sell fast.”

– John Myers, Broker/Owner, Myers & Myers Real Estate

Not preparing the home for sale:


“The biggest mistake I see is sellers who try to rush to put a property on the market without the proper preparation. Too often, I see sellers disregard easy steps like decluttering and staging their home. If they would’ve taken the extra time to do these things, they could very well see a higher purchase price and save time on the market. Real estate is like any other product — proper delivery is paramount to success.”

-Talbot Sutter, President/Broker, Sutter & Nugent Real Estate

Neglecting to make necessary repairs:

“Many homeowners who are planning on selling within a few months or years tend to put off maintenance because ‘it won’t be their problem for long,’ but this can prove to be a costly mistake. Once you sell the property, you will have to disclose all known defects to a potential buyer. It’s likely that the repairs will be more expensive to fix later and will come off the sales price of your home.”

– Craig Mracek, CEO of Keylo

Investing in unnecessary upgrades:

“One of the biggest mistakes sellers make is investing into upgrades that a new buyer may or may not want. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be a large undertaking and involves a lot of preference. Doing so right before selling rarely leads to a return in investment, especially when carrying costs during the renovations are considered.”
– Jamie Klingman, Broker/Owner, Boutique Realty Florida
Taking low offers too personally:
Sellers who are trying to get top dollar for their property need to recognize that the buyers are trying to pay the least amount possible for that property. If a low offer comes in, try not to take it personally. It may be a starting point for negotiation or it may be an automatic ‘no’, but either way, it’s important to keep a level head while making your final decision. “

Stocks stumble as oil dives deeper into bear market

trader screen chart

Stocks stumbled Friday as worries about slowing economic growth weighed on Wall Street, with energy and high-flying technology companies among the biggest losers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.41%, or 108 points, and the S&P 500 was down 1.85%. The Nasdaq Composite shed 1.39% as Amazon, Facebook, and Google-parent company Alphabet all slid. Meanwhile, General Electric plummeted to its lowest point since the financial crisis.

Oil prices continued to fall sharply as rising inventories overshadowed energy sanctions against Iran that took effect this week. West Texas intermediate slid deeper into a bear market, trading just over $60 a barrel, or down more than 20% from recent highs. Brent, the international benchmark, fell below $70 a barrel.

Not helping the mood, a series of disappointing economic data came out in China overnight. Its biggest auto industry association said sales were down for a fourth month, sliding a steep 11.7% in October. Meanwhile, government data showed producer inflation also fell last month as manufacturing activity slowed. The Shanghai Composite closed down 1.4% at 2,598.87.

Concerns about slowing growth came against the backdrop of an ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, which has resulted in billions of dollars worth of tariffs levied between the world’s two largest economies.

High-level delegations from the two nations met Friday in Washington to discuss a range of issues, including trade and North Korea. Separately, White House adviser Peter Navarro accused Wall Street executives he called “globalist billionaires” of trying to interfere with negotiations. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at a multilateral summit in Argentina later this month.

“No good can come of this. If there is a deal, if and when there is a deal, it will be on President Donald J. Trump’s terms, not Wall Street terms,” Navarro said during a speech at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, according to Reuters.

The dollar jumped 0.27% against a basket of currencies, and Treasury yields fell, with the 10-year down 4.3 basis points to 3.189%. On Thursday, the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 2.25% and signaled its fourth hike of the year could come in December.


Dow sheds 200 points, US oil prices fall for 10th straight day

Story image for Finance from Yahoo Finance

Stocks fell for a second consecutive day and oil prices extended a multi-session rout.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) fell 0.92%, or 25.82 points, as of market close, with the tech and communication services sectors leading declines. The Dow (^DJI) slipped 0.77%, or 201.92 points, after shedding more than 300 points at its intraday low. The tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) slid 1.65%, or 123.98 points.

Oil prices continued to decline, with the contract for US West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) deepening into bear market territory and falling below $60 per barrel Friday before settling at $60.19. This is the 10th consecutive session of declines for the domestic benchmark.

Brent crude (BZ=F), the international benchmark, fell below $70 per barrel for the first time since April during intraday trading, sliding into a bear market. Concerns of a supply glut and weakened demand continue to put pressure on fuel prices.

Markets were muted after Federal Reserve officials on Thursday announced that they would not be raising the federal funds target range from between 2% and 2.25%. However, officials said in a statement that they expect “further gradual increases,” supporting analysts’ expectations for a fourth rate hike in December and further increases throughout 2019.

“US markets have started the day in the red, losing ground in the wake of a firm Federal Reserve commitment to keep raising interest rates. Concerns about weaker global growth, embodied by the weaker China PPI reading, have conspired to keep markets from enjoying further gains after Wednesday’s strength, but the overall picture remains encouraging,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

“Given the size of the bounce in the past two weeks, some weakness in US markets is to be expected,” he added. “Continued falls in oil prices are weighing heavily on energy stocks, but we are seeing a small bounce in oil this afternoon ahead of next week’s IEA report, even if it puts barely a dent in the relentless downward move seen in oil prices over the past month.”

STOCKS: Apple-supplier Skyworks gives weak guidance, cites weakness in smartphone market

Shares of Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) tumbled after the semiconductor company provided guidance well below estimates, citing “unit declines in premium smartphones and overall China softness.” The company sees first quarter earnings per share of $1.91 and revenue between $1 billion and $1.02 billion, versus consensus estimates for $2.08 per share on revenue of $1.07 billion. The outlook prompted a slew of price target slashes from analysts from Bank of America, Needham & Co and B Riley FBR. Peer semiconductor stocks also declined, with the PHLX Semiconductor Sector Index (^SOX) falling 1.85%.

Disney (DIS) reported results that topped analysts’ expectations on the top and bottom lines, buoyed by strength in the entertainment giant’s studio and parks segments. Earnings came in at $1.48 per share on revenue of $14.31 billion, handedly beating the Street’s estimates of earnings of $1.34 per share on revenue of $13.73 billion. CEO Bob Iger also announced that the company’s new streaming platform and Netflix rival – slated for release in 2019 – will be called Disney+. The platform will include exclusive content including a new Star Wars and Marvel series. Shares of Disney rose 1.72% to $118 each as of market close.

Yelp’s (YELP) stock plummeted after the review forum platform announced disappointing third quarter results and a slowdown in new account growth. Revenue came in at $241 million versus consensus estimates of $245 million and projected fourth-quarter revenue guidance of between $239 million and $243 million.

“While the shift to non-term advertising has opened our sales funnel, it has also made our results more sensitive to short-term operational issues,” Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement. “We have begun to address a number of the issues that impacted our third quarter results; however, we expect them to affect our fourth quarter results as well.”

Shares of Yelp plummeted 26.68% to $31.90 per share as of market close.

Shares of General Electric (GE) tumbled after JP Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa slashed his price target for the company to $6 per share, the lowest on Wall Street to date. GE’s stock fell below $9 per share for the first time since March 2009. This comes following a weak earnings report last week for the company, where GE announced it would be slashing its quarterly dividend to just a penny per share, missed on the top and bottom lines and said it was facing an expanding probe into its accounting practices from the SEC and Justice Department.


Is the U.S. Economy Peaking and Heading for a Fall?

Is the U.S. Economy Peaking and Heading for a Fall?

The market giveth and the market taketh away.

A day after posting the biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™, TripAdvisor Inc. was down 5.42 percent today. The online travel website posted strong earnings yesterday and saw a 16 percent jump in its stock.

TripAdvisor wasn’t the only stock giving back gains. Ralph Lauren Corp. up 3.78 percent yesterday, fell 6.26 percent today, the biggest decline on the Entrepreneur Index™.

The market as a whole was down, with the Entrepreneur Index™ falling 1.2 percent. While a late afternoon rally pared losses, share price declines on the index outpaced gains by a margin of 41 to 19.

The stock market had one of its best days of the year on Wednesday following the mid-term elections, but has been skittish for the last two trading sessions. Conflicting economic indicators may be the reason. On the one hand, the U.S. economy remains strong and a 0.6 percent jump in the producer price index (PPI) reported today suggests that the Fed will keep to its plans to raise rates again in December and next year.

On the other hand, the rest of the world — particularly China, the second largest global economy — is clearly slowing down. The price of oil, one of the better barometers of global growth, had its tenth straight daily decline today and is down more than 20 percent in the last month. Is the U.S. economy peaking and headed for a fall?

The bond market appeared to think so today. Despite the higher than expected PPI reading this morning, the 10-year Treasury bond yield was down 4.5 points to 3.19 percent.

All the uncertainty is hitting high growth technology stocks hardest. The Nasdaq composite index was down 1.65 percent today and most tech stocks on the Entrepreneur Index™ were in the red. Netflix (-4.55 percent), (-3.49 percent) and Analog Devices (-2.6 percent) had the biggest declines in the sector.

Biotech stocks have also been under pressure. Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals declined 2.94 percent and 1.84 percent respectively today. Both were down more than 15 percent last month.

Truck manufacturer PACCAR Inc. fell 2.98 percent on the day. With worries about global growth and the demand for automobiles and trucks, the company’s stock also fell more than 15 percent in October.

Other stocks on the index with significant declines today included the two asset managers BlackRock and Franklin Resources, down 1.77 percent and 2.43 percent respectively. Shipping company Fedex was also off 2.18 percent.

The biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ was registered by Chipotle Mexican Grill, which was up 2.61 percent, followed by food-maker J.M. Smucker Company, up 1.77 percent. No other stock on the index had a gain of more than 1 percent.

The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown. These inspirational businesses can be tracked in real time on


Cramer’s game plan: Let the market fret over oil and get ready to buy high-quality stocks

Let the market fret over oil and get ready to buy high-quality stocks

Let the market fret over oil and get ready to buy high-quality stocks   5 Hours Ago | 00:59

Much of Wall Street is worried that sliding oil prices could be a sign of global economic weakness, but CNBC’s Jim Cramer offered a counter-theory on Friday as he prepared investors for the week ahead.

“I read the decline in oil as an issue of supply overwhelming demand, not demand waning,” he said on “Mad Money.” “When that happens, it’s terrific for both consumers and for business. You’re paying less at the pump; industry’s paying less on the big bill.”

Oil prices fell for their 10th consecutive trading session on Friday, cementing the longest losing streak for U.S. crude since mid-1984, according to Refinitiv data. On Thursday, Cramer said he could make a case for $40-a-barrel prices.

But considering the fact that the United States is producing 12 million barrels of oil a day, up significantly from past years, Cramer found it hard to believe that there was an issue with demand.

“I think lower oil actually creates a virtuous circle and that people are too negative. And it happened just like last time, where we learned … that cheaper fuel is actually good for 90 percent of the S&P 500 as long as it’s caused by excess supply,” he said.

“So what do you do with your portfolio? Nothing,” he continued. “Let this nonsense play out. Get ready to buy some high-quality stocks of companies that benefit from lower oil. It worked last time and it’s going to work again, provided the Fed figures out that inflation is going down, not up. There’s no hurry.”


Is E*TRADE Financial (ETFC) Stock Outpacing Its Finance Peers This Year?

Investors interested in Finance stocks should always be looking to find the best-performing companies in the group. Has E*TRADE Financial (ETFC – Free Report) been one of those stocks this year? A quick glance at the company’s year-to-date performance in comparison to the rest of the Finance sector should help us answer this question.

E*TRADE Financial is a member of our Finance group, which includes 867 different companies and currently sits at #10 in the Zacks Sector Rank. The Zacks Sector Rank considers 16 different groups, measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the sector to gauge the strength of each group.

The Zacks Rank is a successful stock-picking model that emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions. The system highlights a number of different stocks that could be poised to outperform the broader market over the next one to three months. ETFC is currently sporting a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

Over the past three months, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for ETFC’s full-year earnings has moved 4.96% higher. This is a sign of improving analyst sentiment and a positive earnings outlook trend.

Based on the most recent data, ETFC has returned 8.67% so far this year. Meanwhile, stocks in the Finance group have lost about 3.34% on average. As we can see, E*TRADE Financial is performing better than its sector in the calendar year.

To break things down more, ETFC belongs to the Financial – Investment Bank industry, a group that includes 23 individual companies and currently sits at #109 in the Zacks Industry Rank. Stocks in this group have lost about 6.96% so far this year, so ETFC is performing better this group in terms of year-to-date returns.

Investors with an interest in Finance stocks should continue to track ETFC. The stock will be looking to continue its solid performance.


Why a Great U.S. Economy Doesn’t Feel So Great

John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, describes the economy “strong.” CNN says it’s “soaring.” Vice calls it “great,” and the Washington Post labels it “good.” I myself have referred to it as a “boom.”

But others wonder how this strong, great economy can be soaring when wages aren’t rising very quickly:

Meanwhile, my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Stephen Gandel notes that most Americans’ wealth hasn’t gone up during this boom. Most middle-class Americans keep their wealth in their houses, while the rich tend to put more in the stock market. But stocks have seen the bulk of the gains since President Donald Trump took office:

Even real estate isn’t doing so well for ordinary Americans these days, since the foreclosures of the housing bust and tighter lending standards have shifted housing wealth from the middle class to the rich.

And that’s just what’s happening recently. Over the longer term, Americans have been suffering from steadily falling mobility. Only about half of 30-year-olds now make more money than their parents did at a similar age:

How can things be booming when average Americans are treading water? The answer has to do with the way economists think about the economy. In both their formal models and their mental ones, economic performance is divided into two very different components — macro and micro. That divide has seeped into popular language and punditry, occasionally causing unnecessary confusion.

In simple terms, the basic story economists tell goes something like this: Over the long run, economic prosperity is determined by the march of technology and the quality of human institutions. These combine to drive the growth in productivity, which measures how much output the economy can create for a given set of inputs. They also determine how what the economy produces gets distributed — technology can reward some skills and devalue others, while the government can redistribute wealth and privilege certain occupations over others.

Various subfields of economics deal with the gritty details of things that are thought to affect productivity — taxes, public goods, economic development, education, health, research and development, financial markets, etc. Increasingly, these fields — which comprise a majority of what economists study — are grouped together under the name of microeconomics.

In the short term, economists believe, the business cycle can cause fluctuations around the long-term trend. When a financial crisis, tight monetary policy or some other shock causes aggregate demand for goods and services to fall, businesses stop investing and lay off workers. The ensuing recession causes a mismatch — offices and factories sit empty, while workers who could fill those offices and factories stay at home playing video games. The downturn doesn’t last forever, but in the most severe situations it can persist for as long as a decade. The branch of economics which deals with this sort of temporary phenomenon is called macroeconomics.

Since the Great Depression, economists have gotten used to referring to macroeconomic conditions as “the economy.” Recessions and booms dominate the public discussion. When a large share of workforce is employed — as the chart below shows — people say “the economy” is good, even if productivity is slow, mobility is stagnant and inequality is increasing.

The job market is so strong that even people on Social Security Disability are re-entering the workforce.

But this labor market upswing is relative to a long-term productivity trend that looks increasingly gloomy:

That stagnant productivity is probably a major reason wages are rising so slowly — though workers don’t always capture the gains from productivity growth, it definitely helps. Lower productivity also means less wealth available for the government to redistribute.

In other words, economists and commentators are calling the economy “great” because that’s what they’re used to doing. They just mean that most people have jobs. This standard terminology ignores the question of how much those jobs pay, or which classes of society reap the gains.

Of course, the macroeconomy and the microeconomy aren’t completely disconnected. An extended macroeconomic boom will tend to push up wages. It can even raise productivity, since it prompts companies to invest in the latest technological advances. So it’s good to keep aggregate demand strong, by not tightening monetary and fiscal policy unnecessarily.

But a good macroeconomy isn’t enough. The long-term trends of low productivity and high inequality have to be addressed. Microeconomic policy is much harder than macro, since it requires digging deep into the guts of institutions and industries, and fixing a million little things such as regulations, infrastructure, research, taxes, education and trade policy. There are rarely any big, quick, simple solutions. But the job must be tackled nonetheless, or Americans will eventually realize that a great economy isn’t so great after all.


3 dangerous fires are burning across California, and 6 people died in their cars as they tried to escape

Woolsey Fire

Three dangerous wildfires are raging in California.

The Camp Fire, in northern California, started Thursday morning and quickly charred the entire town of Paradise, which is home to 27,000. The flames grew so fast — a pace of 80 football fields per minute— that four people were burned to death in their cars, the Butte County sheriff Korey Honea told the Associated Press. One deceased person was found near a vehicle.

According to the sheriff, the department has received 35 missing persons reports. So far, at least nine people have died as a result of the Camp Fire. In addition to those found in or near a vehicle, one person was found inside a home.

As of 6:00 p.m. PT, fire officials said the blaze had burned 90,000 acres in just over 24 hours, and was 5% contained.

More than 6,700 structures were destroyed. It is now considered the most destructive wildfire in California history in terms of the number of structures destroyed.

To the south, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, two smaller fires also started Thursday and are now creating havoc for drivers and forcing homeowners to flee. The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning through parts of Ventura and LA counties. The flames have threatened the homes of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and shut down stretches of the 101 freeway.

Inside the city limits of LA, another smaller fire broke out Friday morning in Griffith Park near the zoo. Firefighters there are scrambling to reach the area by helicopter, since it’s not accessible by truck.

Southern California fire officials say the flames have burned at least 150 homes. They say that number is likely to increase.

Already this year, 7,578 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds.

Camp Fire claims at least 9 lives

The Camp Fire started about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. So far, more than 6,700 structures have burned and thousands more are threatened.

According to the Butte County sheriff’s office, five of the people whose deaths have been confirmed were found near Edgewood Lane in Paradise, California, in or near “vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire.” The sheriff’s office was not yet able to identify those victims because of their burn injuries. Other residents ran from the fire, the Sacramento Bee reported.

camp fire burns down paradise, CA nov 8 18
A sign is posted on the Paradise Skilled Nursing center as it is consumed by flames from the Camp Fire on Thursday in Paradise.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County because of the Camp Fire Thursday, and sent a letter to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking for federal assistance.


What to Expect From Europe’s New Bank Cop

Lenders shouldn’t expect much help with their bad debts from Europe’s new senior financial watchdog.

The European Central Bank on Wednesday nominated Andrea Enria as chair of its supervisory board, which oversees the continent’s 118 biggest lenders. Mr. Enria, from Italy, is currently the respected head of the European Banking Authority, and is unlikely to take a softer line on tackling lenders’ bad debts. The industry’s chronic low profitability and poor money-laundering controls present bigger challenges.

Some might hope that his promotion would lead to softer treatment of Italian lenders, many of which are still grappling with bad debts. They are likely to be disappointed. Colleagues joke that Mr. Enria, a former Bank of Italy economist, is sufficiently northern that he may as well be Austrian. His orthodox credentials, and his experience of dealing with large, international financial institutions as chair of the European Banking Authority since 2011, helped him secure the nomination over Sharon Donnery, the deputy governor of Ireland’s central bank.

It’s true that Mr. Enria has shown dovish impulses. In 2017 he called for the creation of a regional “bad bank” to help clean up dud loans. That would have implied a degree of risk sharing by European governments — anathema to Germany — and his plea fell on deaf ears. Since then, the E.C.B. has pushed banks to tackle their own problems.

If confirmed, Mr. Enria will have bigger issues to tackle. First up are the European Union’s lax money-laundering controls, which have led to the sudden closure of banks in Malta and Latvia this year. The scandal in which up to 200 billion euros of potentially suspicious funds flowed through Danske Bank’s Estonian unit has cast a cloud over the Danish lender, and could yet infect others. But the E.C.B. has no formal anti-money laundering powers, instead relying on national authorities — or U.S. authorities — to take action.

Then there is the thorny issue of low profitability. Inside the E.C.B., there is widespread dismay that, despite a benign economy and record-low bad debt charges, banks still can’t make good profits. The European banking industry’s average return on equity is 7.2 percent, according to European Banking Authority figures, well below a probable 10 percent cost of capital.

Tackling these issues, rather than doing favors for banks in his home country, will be Mr. Enria’s top priorities.


US trade deficit increases more than expected in October and is now up 10% for 2018

A container ship at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California.

Getty Images
A container ship at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California.

The U.S. goods and services deficit increased more than expected in September amid escalating tensions with its global trading partners.

The shortfall rose to $54 billion for the month, a 1.3 percent increase, or $700 million, from August and reflective of a 10.1 percent increase year to date, according to government numbers released Friday. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had been looking for a gain of $53.6 billion.

The goods deficit stood at $76.3 billion, the highest on record on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Exports increased to $212.6 billion, a $3.1 billion gain from August, while imports rose $3.8 billion to $266.6 billion.

Those numbers come as the Trump administration moved forward with a plan to tax $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and as China countered. In recent days, President Donald Trump has expressed hope that upcoming talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping can yield fruits on the impasse between the two nations.

Trump has expressed disdain for trade imbalances and has vowed to use tariffs as a way to reduce deficits and get agreements that are fairer to the U.S.

For all of 2018, the global trade deficit has increased $40.7 billion, a result of a $143.8 billion increase in imports and a $184.5 gain in imports.

On a three-month average, the goods and services shortfall rose 5.6 percent from the same period a year ago.

In China’s case, the goods and services deficit increased to $40.2 billion, the highest on record on a non-seasonally adjusted basis Year to date, the U.S. is running a $301.4 billion deficit with China. The closely watched soybean trade was reflective of the trade tensions, with the decline in September exports at $744 million from the previous month.

The goods and services deficit with Russia rose to $1.7 billion, the highest since May 2013.

The goods deficit with Mexico showed a sharp decline, falling $1.1 billion to $7.6 billion, a 12.6 percent slide. The move came almost entirely due to exports, which rose $1.1 billion to $22.5 billion. Imports were little changed, falling less than $100 million to $30.1 billion.