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?
We assembled a coast-to-coast SWAT team to address the crisis: Chad Goldwasser of Goldwasser Real Estate in Austin, Texas; Terry Cannon, a buyer’s agent and broker with Oregon Exclusive Buyers Realty in Salem, Ore.; and Julie Dana, the New York-based “home stylist” and co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell.”
They suggest 10 buyer turnoffs that sellers should avoid 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,” Dana says. “Then you can go back to living your life.”
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. That’s huge,” says Goldwasser. “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.”
Goldwasser recommends that sellers go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets.
“If the carpets are old and smelly, you should put in new,” he says. “If they’re relatively new, you should at least have them shampooed.”
Cannon agrees that grime can derail any showing.
“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.
“Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors,” says Dana. “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,” says Goldwasser. “But the truth is, 50 percent of the population hates dogs and doesn’t want to be near them. “Pets in the home? You have to deal with that.”
Dana advises her clients to 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.
“A lot of times, people will leave pet items out — dog dishes, cat litter boxes, etc.,” Dana says. “That immediately turns off a buyer because they wonder, ‘What has that animal done in the house?’ Also, some people really don’t like dogs. The minute they walk in and see this big, old dog bowl, they immediately won’t like the house.”
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,” Dana says. “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,” Goldwasser says. “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,” says Goldwasser. “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,” Dana says.
Wallpaper is a pain to remove and simply adds another chore to a buyer’s to-do list, Dana says.
“Wallpaper is extremely personalized. You’ve spent hours looking over books to pick out the wallpaper you want,” she says. “What are the odds that the person walking in the door will also like that wallpaper that you picked out?”
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.
“The popcorn acoustic ceiling is a major, major turnoff to buyers these days,” says Goldwasser.
Stop back later this week to see what the other 5 deal-breakers are!
By Jay MacDonald • Bankrate.com