Selling Your House - What Can Go Wrong?

May 23rd 2019 by Marinda Wilkinson

Selling Guide Selling Your Home


It’s no secret that selling your home is not always a smooth process. There are multiple parties involved and this can increase the potential for things to go wrong. With the agent, buyer and yourself all having a pivotal role to play in the sale, you need to be ready to effectively deal with a multitude of issues that may arise.

The best way to handle this is to be prepared. By understanding what can go wrong before you enter the sales process, you’ll be better equipped to deal with any potential problems both big and small. This will save you much of the stress and anxiety that is often part and parcel of selling your home, as well as avoid unnecessary mistakes, complications or delays.

So, to give you an idea of some of the problematic issues that may pop up, read on to learn about the common things that can go wrong when selling a house.

There’s Always A Risk of Buyer’s Remorse

From the buyer’s perspective, purchasing your house is a huge decision. They need to be sure that the location is right, the home suits their lifestyle and needs and the selling price fits into their budget. Sometimes, they may get carried away and commit before checking the house ticks all these boxes, or on occasion, their personal or financial circumstances might suddenly change.

There are endless scenarios that could cause a buyer to pull out at the last minute. This means that until the contract is finalised, you should remain open to the possibility that the buyer may get cold feet and the deal could fall through. Being open to this scenario enables you to more easily bounce back and be ready to start your next sales campaign fresh.

A road sign - both ways

Change of Heart from the Seller

Selling your home is also a big decision, which means there is always a chance that as the seller, you may experience a change of heart. Once you’ve gone to market and the sales process is in full swing, you may start to feel emotional about the sale and decide it is not the right move after all. There’s also a chance you may feel that the timing is off or the offers you are receiving are unsatisfactory. Another potential issue is if you are unable to find a suitable house to purchase within your desired time frame.

The best way to avoid getting cold feet yourself is to be 100% committed to the sale and be fully prepared for all the possible hurdles and potential issues you may encounter. It will be emotional, and you will be faced with obstacles, but when you are confident in your decision to sell, your firm resolve to see it through will help you stick it out no matter what.

Outstanding Debts or Title Concerns

If you have an outstanding debt of any sort owing on the property it is a definite turn-off for potential buyers. If you owe money on rates, or anything else that will be carried on to the new owners, make sure it is cleared up before you go to market.

The same goes for any issues with the title. Your buyer will expect a clean transfer with no unresolved liens or other outstanding debts or judgements. Make sure there is nothing that may cause problems for you or the buyer when it comes time to transfer the title deed or you may find that the sale is stalled or cancelled just before the finish line.

Complications with the Building Inspection

If there are underlying issues with your house or property that have not been disclosed, these will likely be uncovered in the building inspection – and this can potentially be a deal-breaker. To avoid this problem, be sure to make the necessary repairs and fix any issues prior to sale.

Alternatively, if your budget does not allow, be upfront with potential buyers and be prepared to possibly reduce your asking price to allow for repairs to be carried out by the new owners. Trying to cover-up structural problems or other faults is likely to bite you later on and could cause the sale to fall through.

The Buyer Has Unreasonable Demands

Once a building inspection is completed, the buyer will often come back with a list of things they’d like rectified. While this is common, there is also the possibility of the buyer placing unreasonable demands as to what they would like completed before the sale. All houses, both new and old will likely have a list of faults that can be identified by a professional inspector. These may include cracks in the walls, faulty appliances, a leak in the roof and the list goes on.

While it may be fair to address some (or all) of the problems requested by the buyer, don’t allow yourself to be forced into going above and beyond what is reasonably required. If you are unsure if the demands of the buyer go too far, check with your agent. They can help you decide if it is financially viable to go ahead, whether the sale needs to be re-negotiated, or if you are better off walking away and putting the house back on the market.

Missed Deposit Deadline

Once you have found a buyer for your home, they will need to pay a deposit – and if the deadline is missed it can be problematic. Your agent will likely be the one to follow them up for payment at first, and if this proves unsuccessful your conveyancer or solicitor will then discuss with you what the next step may be. This could mean charging the buyer interest on the deposit until payment is made or if this fails to resolve it, you may be forced to terminate the sale.

Your Bank Doesn’t Settle on Time

If you are selling your home with a mortgage, for the sale to be finalised your bank must complete the mortgage discharge process so that the title can be transferred to the new owners. If your bank is not ready to settle by the due date, this will stop the sale from going through.

This problem may occur if your lender has not had enough lead time to complete the necessary paperwork, or if they’ve had a delay in transferring documents internally. To avoid this, it’s best to be on the safe side and submit all the required documents and information nice and early. While most banks can have the discharge completed within two weeks, handing everything in at least four weeks prior to the settlement date is ideal. In addition, a follow-up call two weeks prior to settlement to check the progress can ensure your property remains front of mind and the discharge is completed on time.

The Buyer’s Bank Doesn’t Settle on Time

For the sale to be completed successfully, you also need to rely on the buyer’s bank being ready to settle on time too. While this may be largely out of your control, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of this happening and know your rights should this occur. Your conveyancer can advise you of your options, which may include charging penalty interest on the outstanding amount.

A light bulb in a room

Final Inspection Headaches

The final inspection is a last look over the property before the sale is finalised. It provides the buyer with the chance to make sure that everything in the home is in the same condition that it was when the contract of sale was agreed upon. While this is often a formality, in some cases there can be issues with the buyer highlighting faults or concerns that may not have been mentioned before.

It’s a good idea to be proactive here, checking that everything is functioning as it should and making sure there is nothing obvious that might cause the buyer concern. Here’s a list of some of the things that might be looked at closely in a final inspection:

  • letterbox
  • gas meter
  • electrical switchboard
  • hot water service
  • doorbell
  • light fixtures
  • water taps
  • door handles
  • exhaust fans
  • dishwasher
  • stove and oven
  • heating
  • air conditioning
  • home telephone
  • ceiling fans
  • smoke detectors
  • door and window locks
  • blinds
  • garage door.

Making sure these are clean and in good working order before the final inspection can save you a bunch of unnecessary headaches. In addition, talking to your solicitor and agent so you understand your rights and responsibilities if any issues or concerns are raised at the last minute is a must.

The Buyer Has a Lack of Funds

A successful sale generally relies on the buyer obtaining finance – but what happens if their mortgage application gets rejected? In most cases the buyer will be aware of any issues with finance not being approved before they are actively looking. However, there is a chance that the lender might uncover problems with the buyer’s financial information, or a conveyancer could find liens or judgements against them, which could cause the loan application to not be approved at the last minute.

Another potential problem can occur if the buyer is unable to sell their own property within a set time frame. This may mean they are unable to obtain a new mortgage, which will delay the settlement or may even cause the sale to fall through.

Unexpected Personal Issues Arise

We are all human, and this means stuff happens. Unfortunately, there is the chance that personal problems, life events and changes of circumstances can all get in the way of an otherwise smooth sale. Be prepared to take things in your stride and understand that there are some things that are out of your control. If a sale falls through it’s not the end of the world. Maybe it was just not meant to be. There are other buyer’s out there, and with the right support and preparation you can ensure your home is sold successfully in the end.

Be Prepared for A Few Bumps in the Road

When it comes to selling your home, it’s unlikely to be smooth sailing all the way. With each of the parties involved looking out for their own interests, there will likely be some back and forth before terms are agreed upon. Add to that the complications of lenders, building inspections and legal issues and it can fast become a stressful situation for all!

The key to successfully navigating the sales process is to be prepared for anything. When you have a good understanding of what to expect and surround yourself with the right people to guide you through, you set yourself up to see it through with your sanity intact and to ensure a favourable end result.

Do You Wish There Was an Easier Way?

If the thought of dealing with the ups and downs of selling your home seems way too hard, the Sellable way may be for you. When you partner with Sellable, you can move out when you like and be paid upfront for your property. We’ll handle everything necessary to sell your home for the best possible price. We’ll organise and pay for renovations and staging and take care of the sales process from start to finish.

If you’d like to know more, contact our team for an obligation-free chat today.

Looking to sell your home?