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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.

Pet Trouble

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.

House Presentation

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.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ok,
    What does one do when your house is in emaculant condition on the inside with original builders everything except paint & paper here & there, with carpet that we had installed that looks brand new & is ( 20 years old ) yes & ( light almost off white neutral in color & looks like it was just installed, everything still looks brand new inside for a house that is 24 yrs old with the exception of new windows, doors, custom porch & decking, built on screen house, ( up graded ) private nice white lattice at the top vinyl fencing all the way around property, this all done within the last 7 years , built in pool, white 4 ft vinyl fence around pool as an extra safety measure, safety lock on gate, 2 sheds 1 is 7 yrs new perfect condition, the other serves as a pool house in the pool area for the pool equipment & pool furniture, & a fairly new liner in the pool, looks beautiful when pool is open, looks like your in a resort, private setting & viewing in the back, & quite, professionally landscaped grounds all the way around, well manicured, curb appeal we were told, priced by our realtor, for $399.500 14 months ago & had dropped 3 times & now at $379.900 had only 12 showings, only 1 person said it was too high another said just right, a couple said don’t have hardwood floors, & a couple didn’t like the wallpaper, ( my style is country ) but all in all I don’t find that there comments were offensive, it’s to ones own likings, ( I get that ) but are easy fixes for them, that’s what we did with our prior home? I know times have changed but it seems like today everyone wants everything done for them for nothing, gezzzzz, c’mon!! Also our realtor has not once showed our house??? It’s been all others that has shown it, & not1 offer was made, we were told she was good at selling, kept her on because she’s a family member of a friend !! Maybe our mistake was that we told her we weren’t in no hurry……..

    Not sure what to do?
    At wits end…….
    A well up kept home keeper that thinks it doesn’t matter anymore. I thought condition, along with age, mattered?? Great neighborhood, great schools, I had to boys who graduated from our great school district & 1 is married with a great full time job & 2 boys of his own, & 1 with a great full time job & going to college & living on his own with a girlfriend, & our taxes even went down $800.00 this year also, it’s a great place to live, just wanting to leave because the house is now to big & we are ready to retire & want to down size now, house is approx 2600sq ft….. 3/4 of acre lot ……..
    I just don’t understand!

    Thank you!
    Tracey B.

    1. Hi Tracey:

      My first thought would be that the realtor doesn’t seem to be doing you any favors. If it’s been on the market 14 months, you should have had more than 12 showings, especially if no one has made an offer. Another thing to consider is that if the house is 20 years old, it may not matter necessarily that it’s an immaculate condition if the amenities inside begin to look dated. Things like wallpaper and paint styles may be easy fixes for a buyer, but think of it this way: If I can find a house with similar features space wise, I might choose to move into the one that is newer or has been remodeled more recently. If they have options, anyone will go with the option that is less work to get to the state they want to be in.

      Before you go any further, though, I recommend consulting a different real estate agent and maybe see what they say about any updates you might make as well as pricing strategy. We do have a team over at In-House Realty who should be able to connect you with a good local real estate agent. I think you need someone to consult with and then you can go from there. I hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

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