I’ve been showing a lot of homes recently, and it never ceases to amaze me at how some homes ‘show’ to a potential buyer. Sellers need to understand that they are competing in the marketplace with other properties and their home needs to stand out in order to get an offer. Here are 5 big turn-offs that make a potential homebuyer cringe at the thought of your home, and steps you can take to correct it!
1. Dirty, crowded and smelly houses. Ok so this is a no-brainer, but yet I consistently walk into homes that look like they just had a big party with children and pets and didn’t have time to clean up afterward.
What a seller should do: Only show your house in tip-top shape. Think back on when you looked at homes and how one home stood out above the others. Dishes need to be done and the kitchen counter should be free of clutter. Put the coffee maker, mixer or canister set away for now…even store it in the dishwasher during the day if you have to! Dirty laundry should be off the floor. Rooms need to feel open…take out a piece of furniture from a room and store it if it looks too busy. Remove the figurines and knick-knacks from the desk tops. And above all else, control pet odors. I have had buyers step into a house only to turn around and walk out without even looking at the property because of pet smells. We love our pets, but this is a time that you have to be super-diligent. If you can let someone else watch them while you have your house on the market, great! If not, vacuum often. Clean the backyard and litter box every day. Use Febreeze!
2. Seller in the home. I know you personally want to show the buyer how you just painted your bathroom lime green and talk about how great the neighbors are, but buyers want time alone to talk between themselves or their agent. And what you find lovely about your home may be a negative to them.
What a seller should do: Leave the home for showings. Or step onto the back porch or take a walk around the block (take your pet with you) while a potential homebuyer is looking. If they have questions, they will ask their agent and you will be notified through your agent.
3. Irrational pricing. Yes, you want to make money on your home. And yes, you spent a lot for the new landscaping, you want a trip to Europe and you want to get a certain amount of money from the sale of the house to pay for your new dream home. The next buyer doesn’t care. What they see is an overpriced property in a market where the buyer has their pick of homes. They will just move on to the house down the street that IS priced well.
What a seller should do: Do your research. Get real. Get a few opinions from multiple agents. Hire an agent who knows the neighborhood and the market, and don’t take it personally when they suggest a list price that is lower than you expect. If you owe more than your home will most likely sell for, consider working with your bank on a short sale. If your home needs paint or a new roof, don’t price it the same as the one down the street that doesn’t need those things and still expect it to sell. Go look at homes in your neighborhood and see for yourself what other comparable homes are selling for. Does yours compete? Don’t be tempted to price it higher for awhile thinking that a buyer will lowball you anyway. Buyers are smart and will just wait until the price drops and you become ‘desperate’ for any offer. Price it competitively from the beginning.
4. Photographs of your home. Keep them real. Make them relevant. Buyers want to see the home online before they go see it in person and it should look similar when they do!
What a seller should do: Take a lot of pictures of your home, or have your agent or a professional photographer do it. Post them online. Photos should be clear, in focus, and should show a particular feature of the home. Please don’t show the corner of each bedroom so that the buyer can say, “Yep, that’s a corner!” And don’t take a picture of the laundry room with dirty clothes on the floor, or of the kitchen with food or dishes out. I recently saw a picture in the MLS with eggs in a frying pan on the stove. Obviously breakfast was a priority…not selling their home. Make sure there are plenty of pictures of the outside of the house, the kitchen and the living areas. If you live on a lake or walking path, make sure you have pictures of the views from your yard.
5. Ugly home improvements. Not everyone has the same taste in decorating. I’ve had buyers walk into a property expecting to see these great home improvements that were bragged about in the MLS listing only to have their heart sink when they find that the marble flooring in the bathroom is bright pink, or the new carpet in the living room is a lovely shade of kelly green (and the buyer hates golf). I understand that a seller wants to make these improvements with frugality in mind and maybe the carpet was on sale, but there is a point that you are hindering, not helping the selling process.
What a seller should do: If you’re getting the house ready for sale, check with a professional before making any home improvements. Realtors and Stagers have a good feel for what buyers in the current market are wanting when it comes to colors and materials. They may suggest a few minor improvements that will make a big impact over a major remodel. And remember that neutral finishes will appeal to the largest possible range of buyer tastes.
Now I hope I don’t see these mistakes this weekend when I’m out with buyers! Let’s get them sold!