10 home sales killers
Hands down, our panel agrees: 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. Many realtors won’t even represent sellers 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. Go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets.
“The home should be neat and clean and free of all debris,” Cannon says. “If it reeks of cats or the kitchen sinks and counters are so filthy that it almost looks like the food is moving, I won’t even want to come in.”
Buyers, it’s said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting. 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, 50 percent of the population hates dogs and doesn’t want to be near them. 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, 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, new cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, 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 say, ‘Oh, 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. Wallpaper is a pain to remove and simply adds another chore to a buyer’s to-do list.
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 skirt or a pair of pants. 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 should try to eliminate personal items, including family photos, personal effects and even unique colors. As soon as you have family photos, buyers get very distracted. ‘Oh, did I go to school with him? What do their children look like?’ Suddenly, you’re selling your family, and you’re not selling the home.
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 put in their two cents’ worth. It’s not good. 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.
They like to think they know what they’re doing, and that’s fine, but when you are using a realtor who has sold thousands of homes and has a a system, they know how to get people the maximum value for their home.
8. Misrepresenting your home
Misrepresenting your house online in the multiple listing service is a sure way to really upset buyers and their Realtors.
9. Poor curb appeal
Much is made of curb appeal, 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. Power-wash the exterior or leave mud dauber and wasp and bird’s nests in your eaves and above your doors.
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.
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