Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Buyer Turn Offs

Buyer Turn Offs

As Realtors like to say, the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. Normally buyers will have an idea about why they are looking in your location, but even so, your agent should have information on schools, distance to shopping and good accurate comments on the neighborhood.

First Impressions

The best way to see other people's first impressions of you house is with a camera. If you take photos of the front, the entry, the yard, and the rooms—and place them on a table under good light, you will see what strangers see. Residents are used to looking past problem areas, and simply don't see the or notice the “blemishes”. But photos don't lie.

Deal with every "negative" from the street to the front door and beyond. Fix the negative issues. Paint is your friend, paint the front door. Buyers will spend a few minutes waiting to get into the house as the Realtor fumbles with the keys. Do not have the potential buyer thinking negative thoughts before they even get in the front door. This is where you have your first chance to show off. Gardens and “road appeal” are what buyers see first on arrival. Sellers must realize that they are selling the the entire plot that the house stands on including the improvements and boundary walls between neighbors.

Overpricing your home

Pricing the property correctly at the beginning is crucial in order to attract the right buyer and to make the selling process as painless as possible. In Real Estate everything sells... BUT at the right price.

Homes listed at a higher price than the market recommended, will get some negative feedback from buyers. The worst feedback, of course, is silence. That could include no showings and no offers.

The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home won't see it because they're shopping in a lower price range. The buyers who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.


Smells can come from a number of sources - pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more. You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done.

There's not a buyer in the world that will buy a home that smells bad to them unless they're investors looking for a bargain. Even so, they'll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells. If they find anything like undisclosed water damage, or pet urine under the "new" carpet, then they will either severely discount their offer or walk away. And don't forget about the pets in an around the home. NO ONE likes your dogs as much as you do. Get them out of there and clean up after them prior to anyone coming to see the home. Having them on a chain or in a dog pen is not sufficient if they are barkers. I had a city family come back for the 3rd visit to a country home in a ritzy horse community, and ask me what the terrible smell was in the neighborhood. When I told them it was the neighbors horses, they said they couldn't stand that smell. (And so we moved on to a different area).

As to "smells", nothing is worse than a house where cats have been kept and allowed to pee. If that is your house, no one will want it – period. While pet odors send buyers heading for the door, smoking odors stop them before they cross the threshold! Sellers have no idea how many tens of thousands of dollars smoking costs them in property value.


If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, buyers' attention is going to more focused on running the gauntlet of your living room without breaking any Hummels than in considering your home for purchase.

Too much furniture confuses the eye - it makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of rooms. If they can't see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

Deferred maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart. Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home. Things wear out, break and weather, and it's your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired. If there are signs of water damage/intrusion and mold/mildew, get them fixed.

Your buyers really want a home that's been well-maintained. They don't want to wonder what needs to fixed next or how much it will cost. All buyers should get a professional home inspection. There are way too many things that a professional home inspector should find that the typical buyer would not. To save around $400 and not get an inspection could cost you many thousands in repairs. A seller should want a buyer to have an inspection unless they are hiding something.

One suggestion is to have the seller do all inspection before he puts the house on the market. Then tell the buyer to base their purchase price on the inspection report. If they choose to do an inspection and find something my inspector has not we will discuss it.

Dated decor

The reason people are looking at your home instead of buying brand new is because of cost and location. They want your neighborhood, but that doesn't mean they want a dated-looking home. Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it's from a different era.

Harvest gold and avocado green from the seventies; soft blues and mauve from the eighties, jewel tones from the nineties, and onyx and pewter from the oughts are all colorways that can date your home. Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag or berber carpet, and wallpaper of all stripes. Think about an estate that has wallpaper on all walls, even bath, kitchen and hallway ceilings and buyers know they can't get anyone to remove it.

Working with a stager is often money well spent. Most buyers see a house in the internet first. A well staged property improves the online pictures and showing experience. They can redesign with what you have and/or bring in furnishings and decor. Stagers will sometime offer scent services or suggestions too. Lavender and vanilla are go-to scents. Vacant homes may benefit from being aired-out. The aroma of fresh baked cookies or a pie is an oldie but goodie.

Decor comments are driven by current market conditions. To sell in a tight market you need to standout but—for example--putting granite in and new flooring just to sell it. As markets change other buyers may be looking for deals and today some pretty tired properties are offered for very good money, because buyers don't have much to choose from and decor can be fixed, other things not.

The market is a brutal mirror. if you're guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it's an investment and that others should pay you a profit, you're in for a rude awakening. You'll be stuck with an asset that isn't selling.

Dane Hahn is a Florida based real estate professional affiliated with Sarasota Realty Associates. Reach him at 941-681-0312 or by email at dane.hahn@gmail.com

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