Sell Real Estate, but steer clear of these 10 Buyer turn offs
Sellers, as you get closer to deciding to list your home (this is the ideal time, FYI) you’ll likely begin researching tips and tricks for getting a quicker sale and a better contract price. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time for this… That’s what I’m here for too.
Each day I scan news and blog articles, gathering tidbits from lenders, real estate agents, attorneys and other buyers and sellers across the country in order to help people sell real estate. I’m fortunate enough that my friends and colleagues think of me and email me links and articles too!
Today, by way of Jamie Becker at Citywide Home Loans in Denver, came this useful link: http://www.marketwatch.com/
Everything on the list is common sense, but a reminder every now and then is worth publishing! I can’t tell you the number of times I’m greeted with nastiness at a showing. Yes, this sellers market is hot, but you still need to show your home at it’s absolute best to get the most money you can from a qualified buyer.
First the list… Then a quick true story from less than a week ago.
1. Pets and pet paraphernalia
Remove the dog. This can be for his benefit as much as the buyers if the dog suffers from anxiety or has territorial issues. Barking (even when there is no aggression) could turn away buyers AT THE DOOR! The smell of cat litter and all that lies beneath it, cat urine, dog breath, dog bodies, wet dog, dog food and dog toys is very much a turn off. If you think the buyer will not notice stains on the carpet you are wrong. Once they see pet bowls they will automatically assume your precious Fido has potty training issues too.
Don’t forget to clean up outside too! If I’m going to walk my buyer in your yard you better have not left us any surprises!
2. Bright walls
Everyone knows it! It might be perfect for you, Seller, but the buyer is very unlikely to be able to imagine living there and having their “stuff” match, if the color is too bright or unusual. Paint is cheap… Deal with it before the MLS pictures are to be taken. That’s right… Buyers eliminate homes based on pictures online. So they will never see or care about the gorgeous landscaping if the can’t get past the interior colors.
3. Toys and baby supplies
Babies are cute. I love them! But they come with a lot of equipment these days and while I can appreciate this can be hard to contain, it must be. Buyers don’t like seeing stuff everywhere! Cluttered rooms give the impression the house is not big enough. Yeah, I know that’s why you are moving, but it’s in your best interest as the Seller to not let that cat out of the bag.
The smell of diapers, milk, baby vomit etc is not a selling feature. Sellers need to clean up well, hide the breast pump, bottles (used and clean), toys, bouncers, chairs etc and please, please, please, empty the diaper pail! It’s a lot of work, but if done well, showings are a short lived part of selling. If not done well, you’ll be doing a half-hearted clean up for months.
4. Medical supplies
I’m adding this one… It didn’t appear in the article I linked to.
A big part of a buyers choice to put a contract on a property is determined how they “feel” when they visited. Nope. Not just women… Men experience this too, but it may be more subtle as a decision driver. Medical supplies/equipment such as oxygen bottles, commode in bedrooms, walkers and wheelchairs leave buyers with a downbeat feeling not an upbeat feeling. No-one likes to associate their new home with death, disease or discomfort.
From a Seller perspective, you don’t want to give away your motivation for selling either. It affects your ability to negotiate. Hide the equipment as well as the smells that might give it away. Also hide prescription medication. Don’t ever think that the potential buyer won’t stoop to read the labels and Google the prescription names… They will. Another thing to keep in mind is that medications are one of the more commonly stolen items from an open house.
5. Cooking smells
Fish, bacon, Brussels sprouts, eggs, curry and garlic/onion smells will linger and they don’t get any better with time! Crack a window when cooking and be sure to clean up well and air the place after cooking. You could try “scenting” your space with coffee, baking cookies or bread or cinnamon in boiling water, but IMHO, don’t use those terrible plug-ins. Most people I work with hate them and are under the impression that a Glade Plug-in is being used to mask something worse…Very true!… Red flag!
6. Cigarette Smoke
It’s not a frequent issue in the Boulder area – after all, Colorado is one of the healthier states! The flip side of that is when there is cigarette smells, almost 100% of the buyers are turned off by it. A home that is tainted by cigarette smoke screams “I need new carpet, paint and window coverings… but I may still stink afterwards”. The buyer sees hard work, cash out of pocket and an environment they don’t wish to subject themselves or their families to. Seller’s should take care of the smoke BEFORE listing it for sale or price it accordingly low.
OK, so you have never smoked inside but you use the patio? Yeah… We can tell. It’s still gross and unless you don’t breathe out when you step inside and you change your clothes, wash your hands and your hair before coming inside, there is still a faint smell of smoke that follows you in. People who don’t smoke have greater sensitivity to this, so don’t worry if you can’t smell it – But trust me and take care of it before showings begin.
7. Dirty Dishes and Cluttered Counters
The easiest thing in the world to fix and the quickest! Smelly, dried food on plates… Drinks with a “skin” on them… Pots and pans that are piled up or “soaking”. No, no, no. We hate seeing it. A small-looking, dirty and disorganized kitchen is never on anyone’s Top 3 list when they are searching for their new home. Every buyer likes to imagine that their new home will be a clean, high functioning, beautiful place (even if their existing kitchen is piled high with dirty dishes and they haven’t cleaned the stove top since 2013).
Clean the dishes AND put them away. Remove all those kitchen appliances and spices and the mail that is taking up counter space. Then clean the counters… And the drip marks off the cabinets beneath the counters. Less really is more!
8. Messy Bathrooms
If you can remove all the bottles, potions, make-up and hair appliances, you are off to a great start. Put them in the cabinet for all showings. Then clean like the Dickens! Neither my buyers nor I want to see toothpaste spit stuck to the sink or the counters. We don’t want to see the toothbrushes either… Or hair on the floor or in the plug hole of the tub… Yuck! Smells drive us out of bathrooms faster than just about anything (except toilets… see next paragraph) and it never feels good when I buyer takes of his/her shoes out of respect for you, then gets wet feet by walking on your soggy bathmat. 🙁
Quick tip for you… If you have rust marks on the ceramic/enamel under the faucets in the tub/bathroom sink, use toothpaste and an old toothbrush to remove the rust before cleaning it thoroughly.
Be sure to address mold. Bathrooms grow mold, it’s a fact, but buyers are concerned with allergies as well as how well you take care of the property. Bleach grout! Paint ceilings with a bathroom specific paint that covers and kills the existing spores.
Clean and with the lid down is the only acceptable way to keep a toilet when your home is being shown! Don’t forget about the toilet in the basement or guest room that hasn’t been used in a while. It probably has a dirty ring at the water line or some pink mold growing in the bowl.
I’m not kidding when I say that on more than one occasion the residents have left the house for a showing with the lid up on a USED toilet. My buyers will and do make comments about the type of person who lives there.
10. Used Clothing
I’m adding this one because, well, I need to. Please pick up your used socks and underwear, if nothing else. Boxer shorts cast off at the toilet, socks balled up on the sofa and pre-worn delicates dropped on the floor in the master bathroom, bedroom or in the unmade bed, are icky. We don’t need to know so much about your private lives, Sellers. How are you going to look us in the eye at the closing table?!
If you have a spare 30 seconds, pick up the rest of your clothes too. A nicely organized closet looks big and clean. Being able to see the floor in the bedroom means we will do more than pop our head in and then leave. And the laundry hamper? If it’s overflowing or odoriferous it might be time to do laundry. Otherwise, put a lid on it or hide it somewhere.
I witness poor showing condition at properties almost daily. How do I see this? With great enthusiasm!!! It means that when I take your listing and guide you through cleaning, staging, decluttering and getting the heck out of the place during showings, your place is going to out perform it’s competition and you are going to net more at the closing table. 🙂 Opportunity knocks!
Just last week my buyer and I knocked on the door of a townhouse in Lafayette and were welcomed in by the friendly couple who lived there. Townhouses in this area had been going quickly, with up to 16 offers competing for 2-3 bedrooms and 1500 square feet near open space. This one had been on the market for several weeks.
The location was great. Quiet cul-de-sac, friendly neighbors, the decent sized back patio faced west and had unparalleled views of the Rockies and foothills, as did two of the bedrooms and the living room. The sun was setting as we guided ourselves around the townhouse. Outside, the unit was well maintained and looking really good.
So what was the issue?
Cats. Clutter. Cleanliness. (My top 3)
Every room smelled like kitty litter and cat urine. The residents could barely move, they had so much crap in there. Not even furniture… Just stuff. The kitchen was filthy dirty with trash all over it and the carpet was stained, wrinkled and sticky! It didn’t help that windows were covered and the rooms fairly dark or that the residents stayed sitting on the living floor, playing video games throughout the showing. (We stepped over them, literally!)
Understandably, my buyer decided he would prefer something that didn’t require so much work after closing. The stack of Realtor business cards on the kitchen counter told me he was not alone.