How to answer, “So why are you selling your home?” …and what NOT to say!

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When it comes to selling your home, most sellers vacate the premises during a showing or open house. But there may be instances where you, the seller, are present and are asked by a potential buyer “Why are you selling your house?”. It’s a pretty common question from home buyers, and although you might think your response is innocent, this is one of the diciest questions you can answer. Why? Because any response you give could be used against you and cause the buyer to question if they will have the same issue.

Many realtors will steer sellers to direct all questions to them vs. the seller answering anything direct.  Your listing agent is there to help you and handle communication with prospective buyers. Let them do the talking and avoid being present for showings or open houses if at all possible.

If you do happen to be present, prepare yourself in advance for this question. A short and neutral response is best. Something similar to “We love our home, but we’re ready for a change.” Most buyers won’t press further.

Although you may want to answer more honestly, avoid these responses.

  • I got transferred for my job. This seems harmless, but it could make the new buyer think that you’re desperate to sell fast and cause them to submit a lowball offer.
  • We need a bigger house. This could make the buyer think twice about the size of the home, especially if they see family photos that show you have a similar family size. Will this home be too small for them too?
  • We want to downsize. This makes sense for empty nesters or retirees, but it may give the illusion that you couldn’t keep up with the house and maintain it.
  • We want a smaller mortgage payment. The buyer can see what you paid for the home and if it’s listed as a similar price that you paid, it may make the buyer feel like the home is too expensive or overpriced.
  • We already have an offer in on a new home. You never want the buyer to know you have or are already in the process of buying a new home before they make an offer. They may think you need to sell quick so you avoid having to carrying 2 mortgages.
  • We want a quieter or more private neighborhood. This raises red flags. Never say anything about the location – you don’t know what the buyer is looking for and you could say the wrong thing.
  • For health issues. Whether it’s moving closer to family to take care of an aging parent or for your own health issues that make climbing stairs hard, you want to keep that type of information private.
  • It’s too expensive or much work to maintain. Many buyers will ask for utility bills to see what you spend a year, however, never say anything that may raise an alarm about what the costs are to maintain the home.

Buying a home is a big investment. You never want to deceive or lie to a potential buyer, or neglect to disclose something that you are required to, but you shouldn’t offer up any additional information. Your listing agent is there to guide you on what to say and what not to say. When selling your home, less is certainly more.

Mickie-Ann Budny
Litchfield Branch Manager, Vice President