As Kate Hart recently addressed, we have all found odd things in our listings. Things that startle buyers (and ourselves) and cause them to exit a listing before they have completed the tour.
Below is a list of things that your buyers should never see during showings that must be addressed before the sign goes into the yard. These things will undoubtedly kill your sale.
1. Sex - Let's just get this one out of the way, shall we?
Whether it be in it's physical form (stumbling upon couples in the act or obviously recently finished) or just suggestive (toys, stripper poles, swings, lingerie, etc.) Nothing can give your clients the heebie-jeebies faster. Very few people can get past the mental picture. Let's face it - you don't want to think about what the previous occupants may have done in your hotel room, you certainly don't want to know what others were doing in your potential home. Let's all shudder together...
2. Drugs. Both legal and illegal.
We will go with illegal first. We've all heard the horror stories - finding coke lines in the bathroom, the stench of pot permeating every nook of a house, illegal 'gardens', etc. will not exactly put your client at ease. It is amazing how quickly all of these things can create the image of 'crack house' in the buyers mind. It is not a homey image.
As far as the legal drugs are concerned, if left out for buyers to see it can lead to one of two things - insight into a sellers life that the buyer does not want to have or opportunity for a less than stellar buyer. If your seller has large amounts of pain medication sitting on the bathroom sink, your buyer may start to wonder who exactly owns this house? Are they addicts? For the addict who may be visiting, it is an irresistible stroke of luck.
3. Rock 'n Roll.
What lifestyle do these words conjure up in your mind? Hard partying, low moral compass, transient living? Imagine walking into a house where this may be the lifestyle of choice. Would it be filthy, smell like alcohol, have questionable contents? This type of residence would not have a welcoming atmosphere for most buyers. Any subversive lifestyle can be an aversion to the normal house hunter.
This is one of the toughest ones to deal with. Individuals who have a strong conviction in their faith and practice it regularly tend to display that within their homes. There is nothing wrong with it. However, if a potential buyer sees religious icons of a faith that they find contradictory to their own it can put them immediately on edge. While the majority of us would be freaked out by signs of cult activity, how would an atheist react to images of the cross? Or a Jewish family to a swastika? Buyers should have no inkling of the belief system of the seller as it can give them a negative impression of the house itself.
This really goes hand in hand with religion. Should you be house hunting with Michael Moore, how do you think he would react to a life size poster of George Bush in someone's living room? Would it make him feel warm and cozy? I doubt it. Likewise, a staunch republican would not be too happy to find volumes of books written by the Clintons.
Due to the large amount of comments received, I really wanted to add that Politics covers more than just Democrat vs. Republican. This really has so many subgroups that the possibility of covering them all is nearly impossible, but this section can be expanded to cover any hot button issues such as PETA vs. Hunters, NRA vs. Anti-gun, Pro-life vs. Pro-choice, and so on...
All of these things have one thing in common- they evoke strong reactions in those who encounter them. It may be positive, or negative, but can you take the chance? You may have shown your client the perfect house for them, but if they leave feeling offended or creeped out on any level they will likely move on to a less perfect home where they felt comfortable.
So, how do you talk to your sellers about these things without offending them? That's easy - make a stager do it. We come in as a neutral 3rd party and talk to them about all of these things and more. Plus, we can do it without making them angry with YOU. Stagers remove this responsibility from your plate so that you do not have to have these awkward conversations with your client. It is a win-win-win situation for everyone.