Are you getting ready to sell your house? If so, you’ll want to make sure you put your best foot forward. You’re selling something you’ve lived in and take a lot of pride in, so naturally you’ll want to show it off to every potential buyer that walks through the door.
It’s a seller’s market right now, and according to the latest existing home sales numbers, there are roughly 4.2 months’ worth of supply left in the market if sales hold at their current levels. For perspective, the market is considered in balance between buyers and sellers when there is about six months’ worth of supply, so the scales are definitely tipped in favor of the seller at this point.
Properties are also staying on the market for an average of about 30 days. If your property has been for sale for a couple of months, it’s time to figure out what’s causing buyers to avoid your property.
We reached out to real estate agents to have them discuss the biggest home buyer turnoffs they’ve encountered. You don’t want people put off before the tour even starts by an absolute showstopper.
The Price is Wrong
It may be a seller’s market right now, but that doesn’t mean you can price your home any way you want.
Artur Muller, a mortgage broker and CEO of south Florida-based AMLUXE Realty, said price is the most critical factor – pricing your home well above market value is not a great idea.
“It is very important that you do not overprice the home as it will scare buyers away and your home will sit on the market for a while, creating a red flag along the way,” he said. “At the same time, the asking price should always be slightly above market value as it will create some wiggle room for negotiations.”
Muller said buyers are usually well-versed enough in the market to see a good value. If you’re in the situation when you need a quick sale, pricing just below market value can help.
Sent Away by Scent
One common theme the experts we spoke with kept coming back to was that sellers should avoid foul orders. Your home doesn’t have to smell like fresh-baked cookies (although it would help), but you don’t want to offend either.
Anne Newsome is a realtor in Columbia, South Carolina with Rinehart Realty. She said that in some cases, an odor can really stink up a potential sale.
“I had a buyer who was completely turned off by an offensive odor that was in the master bathroom … and it was cigarette smoke!” she said. “We looked at three houses and she was leaning more towards that home for other reasons but because of the odor in this one room of the home, one of the other homes became her #1 choice for making an offer.”
Something like cigarette smoke can be tricky and you may want to call on professionals to do their magic and remove the scent. However, in most cases when the smell will leave with the owner, you can do some simple things to mitigate and eliminate orders.
“Use some plug-ins and open the windows occasionally to be sure there are no odors”, said Tyler Ohta, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, based in Reston, Virginia.
Ohta said that having fresh flowers on hand for showings can really bump things up to the next level in terms of presentation.
Pets can be awesome sources of unconditional love. All a dog asks for in return for years of cuddles and listening to your problems without ever passing judgment is the occasional slice of bacon.
However, if you have pets that are a little more exotic, it can lead to some interesting situations, as Mariko Baerg, a realtor that covers the Vancouver area for the Bridgewell Group, explained.
“The biggest turnoff I have encountered recently was when my buyers walked in to a unit that had rats running around it and fecal matter everywhere,” Baerg said. “When we asked the sellers about a possible infestation issue, they said that those are their pet rats and they let them run around the unit as they please!”
While we aren’t all necessarily raising our own family of Stuart Littles, it is important to clean up after your pet and ensure your house is presentable by cleaning floors and carpets and using air fresheners to mitigate pet odor and other issues – generally making sure that potential buyers don’t notice the pet before they see the house.
Presentation is everything, and there are two facets to this: preparing your home for sale and also staging your home for potential buyers walking through. Let’s cover both briefly.
Getting Ready to Sell
Muller said that if your house hasn’t been updated in a while, you should set aside a reasonable budget to perform upgrades, even though your instinct may be to discount the price of the house rather than spending the money to update.
This line of thinking is good in theory, but it’s often easier to get the money for a mortgage than it is to get the money then to come up with another large sum for renovations. With that in mind, interested buyers may choose to pay a little more for a house that’s already redone as opposed to one that needs work after their purchase. Three areas of the most concern are flooring, kitchen and bathroom areas. On the outside, Muller pointed to air-conditioning and roofing updates as things that buyers worry will cost them a lot of money later on if they’re not fixed before the sale.
That said, not everything you do has to cost a great deal of money. Once you’ve established a budget, things like updating door handles and putting on a fresh coat of paint can make a big difference.
Staging the House
Shakespeare said “all the world’s a stage.” When it comes to selling your house, it’s somewhat like putting on a performance; you want your house to look best when all eyes are upon it.
Ohta said that an important thing to remember is that your buyers have to be able to envision themselves living in a space. To that end, she recommends the following tip:
“When you’re showing a home, you really want to depersonalize the space and remove as much clutter as you can,” she said. “It makes it hard for the buyer to see the home through clutter to envision themselves living there. Now that everyone watches HGTV there is an expectation that the home will be nicely staged and not cluttered.”
It’s important that there be plenty of walk-through space as well. You don’t want it to be overcrowded with furniture, which makes it appear less spacious.
Not everyone is going to be an expert at staging their home. If you’re stuck, a real estate agent who knows their craft can help provide tips or even connect you with someone who stages homes professionally. If you haven’t yet found a real estate agent, our friends at Rocket Homes can help connect you with an excellent one in your area.
With these tips, we hope that your home sells quickly. Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments.
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