Clutter may be a buyer's best friend

Industry Observer

When counseling buyers, we discuss what is important to them in finding a new home.  We also discuss what is important in getting a good home at a great price.  In my opinion, three important traits of a potentially good buy are:

1. Overpriced.  A home priced just out of its market range will get few showings and fewer offers.  If the seller can afford tosell at a market, our offer may be the only one they see.  There is a fair chance that, if the offer is presented properly, they will accept it.

2. Unusual paint colors.  Any color that causes a potential buyer to focus more on the walls than the house will send many quickly to the next showing appointment.  My advice to my clients is to expect to see, and learn to love homes with ugly colored walls.  Much of your competition has moved on, and about a hundred bucks worth of paint will fix it.

3. Clutter. Wading through piles of the owners' "stuff" is annoying, and too much furniture makes the place look like an overstuffed dollhouse.  The home looks unattractive, and it will be passed over by many potential buyers.  That's great for us.  Fewer potential offers put us in a much better bargaining position, and we know that all the stuff will be gone by the time we take posession of our bargain home.

Frankly, I love taking advantage of poorly prepared sellers.  That's one of the best parts of my job.


Posted by

 Mike Carlier  Lakeville, MN





Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. D B 11/17/2009 02:52 PM
  2. Tammie White, Broker 11/17/2009 03:07 PM
  3. Craig Armstrong 11/18/2009 02:29 PM
  4. Blatt + Cutino 11/19/2009 01:48 PM
  5. Trisha P Realty Group 11/21/2009 02:02 PM
  6. Jody Deeds 11/22/2009 02:14 AM
Minnesota Dakota County
The Lounge at Active Rain
Minnesota Real Estate Investor Group
Certified Residential Specialists
ABR-Accredited Buyer Representatives

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Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Good post. Hope sellers will read this and atleast remove the clutter.

Nov 17, 2009 08:54 PM #40
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

Hi Mike,  Some people feel more comfortable in cluttered homes!  Everyone does not have the same standards, especially when it comes to housekeeping.  Most of the time a staged home is going to be more appealing to the majority, but sometimes too clean makes a buyer nervous.

Linda Metallo, Re/max Impact, Lockport, Il.

Nov 18, 2009 12:14 AM #41
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


You are right on with this advice. I tell buyers that if they can look past bad decorating, loud paint colors, and messy house keeping, they can put themselves in a position to get a bargain.  Because, frankly, most people cannot do it.  But, for those who can visualize past the "mess" they are in a great position to negotiate.


Nov 18, 2009 12:36 AM #43
Lewis Beynon
Century 21 Triangle Group - Raleigh, NC
Triangle Real Estate 411

Great post Mike.........I still find it very difficult to tell my sellers their home is a "mess"!

Nov 18, 2009 01:17 AM #44
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

Mike - These are excellent points to review with a buyer prior to looking at properties.

Nov 18, 2009 02:04 AM #45
Gary Swanson
Century 21 Harris & Taylor - Grants Pass, OR

Mike, these are some great things to review with buyers.  I'm always blunt, yet (hopefully) tactful with my sellers about getting things cleaned up before we list their property.

Nov 18, 2009 02:08 AM #46
John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL
You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results

I have written post after post on this and warned sellers as well. Either you make the changes and get extra money for your trouble or the buyers will do it after the sale and pocket massive savings. Sellers choice! Some heed the advice and profit from it and others just do not get the picture. Of course, that latter group still wants the highest price on the block. Those I do not work with. If they care so little about the sale, I do not want to take the listing.

Nov 18, 2009 03:12 AM #47
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Good post-- yep, clutter equals the seller gets less !

Nov 18, 2009 04:58 AM #48
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

Great post!  It's so true that many buyers look past a jewel of a home because of it's colors and clutter!

Nov 18, 2009 05:55 AM #49
Jessica Wallace
Coldwell Banker - Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz Realtor (831) 419-9345

Very true, simple changes of paint and carpet and a little clean up and you get a great buy because others did not have vision!

Nov 18, 2009 06:13 AM #50
Gene perez
Greater Mortgage Solutions & Valley Hills Realty - Santa Maria, CA

interesting how you made positive out of the negative

Nov 18, 2009 09:14 AM #51
Craig Armstrong
Mackaby Realty - Stillwater, MN

Mike - thanks for a post that both made sense, and made people smile.  There's an art to a post like yours! 

Nov 18, 2009 02:26 PM #52
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

These are very valid points for helping your buyer find a great deal if they can look past these objections.

Nov 18, 2009 06:35 PM #53
R.E. Renée Hoover, Salesperson
Century 21 Geba Realty, Milford, PA; Licensed in PA & NYS - Milford, PA
Poconos, Pike, Wayne, Monroe Counties, PA; PA/NYS

Good points - perception can be everything.  The perception of having made a great deal is one of the best!  Turning the light switch to "on" and getting a perspective buyer to view something in a different light definitely is a part of the art of selling.

Nov 18, 2009 10:28 PM #54
Blatt + Cutino
Keller Williams Coastal Estates - Monterey, CA
Broker-Associate 831/206-8070*Call today*

I think I will copy this to my new seller...maybe it will help a little.

Nov 19, 2009 01:48 PM #55
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


I forgot to mention that Nathan up there is my Son :)

He gets to be the one to work with those Buyer's :)


Nov 20, 2009 09:11 AM #56
Jody Deeds
Key Realty, LTD - Columbus, OH
"Helping You Move On With Your Plans"

Terrific advice Mike for both buyers and sellers.  I've re-blogged it.  Thanks for sharing. 

Nov 22, 2009 02:16 AM #57
Kate Talarico
Kates Home Staging and Interior Design - Goshen, NY
RESA, Top Orange County Home Decorator & Stager

Great post!  Are you sure purple and orange painted walls do not go together?  Maybe is the seller just piles up enough laundry, no one will notice the bad paint job!  I also like these homes, since a lot of them end up my way too ;-)

Dec 04, 2009 09:37 AM #58
Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

Kate, I have a love - hate attitude toward home stagers.  I love them for my sellers and hate them for my buyers.  Do you have any idea how much people like you cost buyers?

Purple and orange? I don't know if the go together, but I've seen too many times when they are together.  In Minnesota, most folks prefer purple and gold, at least now that we received the player-coach gift from our neighbors to the east.  Thank you, Green Bay!

Dec 05, 2009 12:33 AM #59
Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

Thanks to everyone for your input.  Every time they enter a house, buyers need to be reminded that their friends, clutter and ugly decor may be present.  Again, when we encounter the two buyers' friends, we need to show that we are happy to meet them again.

Kyle, it's called buyer agency.  If you work with buyers, it's your job. 

Dec 05, 2009 12:42 AM #60
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Mike Carlier

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