10 Ways to Avoid Turning Off Potential Homebuyers
10 Ways to Avoid Turning Off Potential Homebuyers
What a difference a couple of years makes. Back in 2007, homebuyers would beg to purchase your house. They would even bid more than the asking price for the privilege to do so.
Today … well, not so much. Once the real estate bubble burst and foreclosures poisoned the housing pool, buyers suddenly regained the upper hand. But instead of buying, they're waiting, convinced that housing prices will continue to drop.
What's a smart seller to do in this environment? Make sure you avoid these 10 buyer turnoffs at all costs. If you do all the staging correctly and have a good agent, the house will hopefully only be on the market a few weeks. Then you can go back to living your life.
Hands down, nothing turns off a buyer quicker than a dirty house.
The No. 1 biggest mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition. That's huge. I won't even represent sellers at this point unless they are fully aware of how important it is to get their home in the absolute best condition that they've ever had it in.
It is recommended that sellers go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets. If the carpets are old and smelly, you should replace them. If they're relatively new, you should at least have them shampooed.
The home should be neat and clean and free of all debris. If it reeks of cats or the kitchen sinks and counters are so filthy that it almost looks like the food is moving, many buyers will walk right out.
Buyers, it's said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting.
Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors. I advise my clients not to cook fried food, fish or greasy food while the house is on the market.
Some pet owners mistakenly believe pet smells to which they've become accustomed help make their abode homey. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you're a dog person, you tend to think everyone else is a dog person. But the truth is a large population doesn't want to be near dogs at all. If you have pets in the home make sure you deal with the odor prior to any showings. Eliminate all traces of pets, not just pet odors. It's important to get rid of pet paraphernalia and have a "pet plan" to make sure the animals are not around when the house is shown.
The same rules hold true for smokers: Remove all ashtrays, clean all curtains and upholstery, and consider smoking outdoors while your home is on the market.
Interestingly, next to the kitchen, the smelliest room in the house is actually the living room. That's typically the room that has the most fabric, so that is where odors get absorbed.
3. Old fixtures
Want buyers to roll their eyes? Leave old fixtures on your doors and cabinets.
You need to change out old fixtures in your house. Buyers expect modern cabinet hardare and doorknobs. It will probably cost several hundred dollars, but it makes a huge difference.
The same holds true for dated ceiling fans, light fixtures and kitchen appliances. Homes that have old fans, lights, ovens, microwaves, ranges and dishwashers can really turn a buyer off. Sellers will think the buyers can take care of that. Well, yes they can, but it's going to impede you from getting the highest price possible for your home.
Your grandmother may have had it in every bedroom. Your mom may have loved it as a room accent. But today's buyer wants no part of wallpaper. Wallpaper is a definite no-no. It can be a pain to remove but it must be done.
5. Popcorn acoustic ceilings
Times change, and with them home decor styles. Acoustic popcorn ceilings, once the must-have for fashionable homes in the '60s and '70s, now badly date your space. If you can't stomach the cost or the mess to remove the overhead popcorn, be prepared to credit a buyer in certain markets in order to close a sale.
6. Too many personal items
Psychologically, when buyers tour a home, they're trying it on to see how it fits, just as they would a piece of clothing. If your house is cluttered with too many personal items, it's like the buyer is trying on those clothes with you still in them. A fit is unlikely.
Sellers need to be aware that how they decorate to live and how they decorate to sell are different. When decorating to sell it is imperative you de-personalize and de-clutter the house. Remove all family photos, take down personalized artwork and make the space feel more open and pleasing to the eye.
If you really want to hook a buyer, try to place a mirror strategically so that people can actually see themselves in the home. So they can actually picture themselves living there."
7. Snoopy sellers
Realtors and buyers alike generally bristle when the seller greets them at the door for a showing. They will want to walk around with the potential buyer and give them the tour. It's not good a good idea to interfere. Normally, there are one out of 10 sellers where it's OK to have them there, and that's because they know what is up with the property and how everything works.
8. Misrepresenting your home
Misrepresenting your house online in the multiple listing service is a sure way to really upset buyers and their Realtors. Buyers can get very excited from seeing a home's photos online. Make sure you accurately portray the reality of the home and it's surroundings. If you mislead buyers, they will be very disappointed and walk out.
9. Poor curb appeal
urb appeal is very important and for good reason: It's your home's handshake, the critical first impression that lasts with most buyers.
You have to totally trim and edge your yard to get it into the most immaculate condition you can. It's a big mistake to not freshly mulch the beds and trim the trees. Every little detail counts. Make sure you powerwash the driveway and walkup, freshen up the exterior paint and add some fresh plants or flowers for some color.
Whether inside or out, less is more when it comes to clutter. Your closets should be half-full with nothing on the floor. Why? Because most people looking for a house have outgrown their previous house. Showing them that you've still got room to grow gives them a reason to buy.
Kitchens and built-in bookshelves should showcase spaciousness by following the rule of three. For kitchens, there should be no more than three countertop appliances. Meanwhile, bookshelves should be divided into thirds: one-third books, one-third vases and pictures, and one-third empty.
The home office should be very generic so any type of professional can imagine living there.
Dana's tip for toddler parents is to pack away extraneous "kiddie litter" and keep a laundry basket handy. When you get that phone call one hour before a showing, toss everything in that basket and take it to the car with you and you're all set.