Based on my experience showing buyers and homes of all flavors, these are the things most typically responsible for the buyer turning tail, so to speak. While numbered, these are in no particular order, as they are each important, and taken collectively, they are sure to not sell your home.
10. Ooh, that smell. And we don’t mean cookies in the oven. The unidentified “dinner to be named later” slow-cooking on the stove, the pets (including their litter boxes, their residual odor in the carpeting, their “presents” encountered in the kitchen after a long day of indoor living), and that “old house” smell (can’t define it, but it is there) are but a few of the usual culprits. I have shown homes where we literally had to cover our noses & mouths to make it past the threshold.
9. Big, angry dogs. These can consist of the “don’t you dare think about coming in my backyard” variety, or the “protectors” who greet you at the front door, expecting Charles Manson. I will also include in this category the two dogs I met most recently while showing a home who, while not the least bit viscious, were off the charts on the annoying scale, and left enough drool on my suit to justify a special adjustment to my dry cleaning bill.
8. Little, angry dogs. While the little ones are not generally considered life-threatening, they can be doubly annoying and distracting. Much like too much clutter will easily distract a buyer from their mission, little yippy dogs have that same distracting tendency. Also, keep in mind, while I have a 95-pound puppy at home and enjoy pets, not all buyers are as fond of our four-legged friends.
7. Major “Gruddies”. This is a term we use in our house to define any stuff of the icky variety. A stove with a three-inch layer of grease, cobwebs at eye level, and that black and green stuff (okay, mold and mildew) in and around tubs and shower enclosures that looks like it indeed may be in motion, to name a few. I will include in this category “minor gruddies” as well, the one that bothers me the most being the black light switch plates. When viewing a home, everyone is running around turning on lights, and this is one thing they will definitely notice.
6. Seller on Board. This is one of the worst offenders. Most sellers encountered during showings are delightful, yet their presence intimidates buyers and stifles communication between buyer and agent which is critical to a sale. It is a common mantra in real estate that a buyer must raise objections and the agent must overcome these before a sale can take place. When the seller is home, even trying to make themselves scarce in the guest room, it tends to shut down dialogue and shorten the showing. In the more extreme cases, a seller will follow the agent and would-be buyer around, pointing out all of the special features of the home. This is never well received. When acting as a buyer’s agent, we want to help you sell your home if it meets the needs of our clients. We know our clients best and, as professionals, we know your product, so you are better off to let us do the selling. Finally, I have encountered all of the following: Completely unclothed children following the showing party around the home asking them to watch them (sing, dance, do cartwheels, etc.), sellers in bed yelling “come on in”, and sellers asleep in bed. You can guess how these situations played with the buyers.
5. Carpeting in Technicolor. You may love your kelly green carpeting, but most buyers will not. True, carpeting can be easily replaced, but this distraction will forever label your home “the green carpet house”. Buyers will tend to only remember this and not the plethora a special features which would have otherwise suggested this to be their perfect home.
4. Personalizaton to an Extreme. Not everyone is going to have your same, refined sense of style. That bottle cap collection that you have proudly displayed on one, entire, prominent living room wall may not be as charming to the would-be buyer as it is to you and the Bottle Cap Club. Nude, professionally framed glamour shots are a definite distraction. A few pictures of the family, I find, are generally well received; they help the buyer relate to your home in a more emotional fashion. Enough pictures to fill the Louvre, however, will overwhelm.
3. Dirty Carpeting/No Shoes Rule. Not every seller is going to have the luxury or even willingness to replace dirty, worn carpeting prior to listing, but buyers are really annoyed by having to remove their shoes in these circumstances. It generally leaves a bad, “what are they thinking” impression, not to mention it calls attention to carpeting that might be better left unscrutinized.
2. Obvious Disrepair. If a home shows obvious signs of neglect, the buyer immediately wonders what might have been neglected that is not visible. Yours could be the most structurally sound home every constructed, but if you have holes in the drywall (due to batting practice, door slamming), cabinet doors hanging off hinges, ripped screens, or any number of other blatant repair needs, the buyer begins questioning the unseen (plumbing, electrical, HVAC). The result is usually the “what would I be getting myself into” question.
1. Misrepresentation. As listing agents, we all take photos from the best angles (often using that wide-angle lens to our advantage), and we go to great lengths to describe a property in the most glowing terms (heavily relying on our Thesaurus and Random Word Generator). Buyers and agents alike, however, get really annoyed when common sense truth-in-advertising practices are discarded. I have shown homes promoted as having a “panoramic ocean view” which provided said view only from a vantage point across the street in the neighbor’s driveway or while precariously straddling the master bathtub. Don’t tell me a home shows like a “model” if you mean a model from the 1960’s. A pool-sized lot is one that, by definition, you could build a pool in, and the assumption here that we are talking about a “swimming pool”.
Presentation is important in any market; in this market, it is critical. Get your agent’s advice when listing your home for sale. By following a few basic and commonsense rules of staging and showing, your buyers will more likely be running for the door… to write the offer!