Dear Seller - Ten Sure Fire Ways to Distract Buyers from Focusing on Your Home.

Real Estate Agent with John L. Scott

 This may seem a bit harsh but it is just plain speaking honest commentary regarding my experience as a buyer's agent.  The statements below are taken directly from the comments and behaviors of buyers viewing homes for sale.  It not meant to be negative but rather is meant to give sellers a bit of a look into the buyer's head.  A chance to see things from the buyer's perspective without the candy coating we agents typically put on things.

10) Leave your "friendly" dog roaming free inside the house when you know we are coming to see it.

Not all buyers are dog people.
Many whether they are dog people or not will actually be scared of your dog.
I have had clients refuse to go into homes because the dog was out.  Or they go in but don't stay long because the dog is either scared of them or overly friendly.  It's hard to pay attention to a home when your nether regions are being inspected by Fido. 
If the buyers are true dog people they are going to focus on the dog not on the house.
Trust me I have seen it happen. 
One way or the other your pet has effectively distracted the buyer from looking at your home.

9) Leave something aromatic cooking in the crock pot for your dinner that night

Not all buyers are going to be fans of your food choices.  In fact if it is particularly aromatic and something the buyer's don't care for, they are likely to ask me if I think the smell will come out or leave quickly because they don't like the smell. 
They were so focused on your food choice they didn't look at your house.

8) Keep photos of your family up throughout the house

Guess what, buyers are going to look at your family photos to try to figure out who you are, do they know you, how many kids do you have?

Guess what they are not doing?  Looking at your house.

7) Keep all your nick knacks out

I know they are precious to you but honestly they are distracting to the buyer.  Instead of looking at the fabulous mantle the buyer will be looking at all the items on the mantel.  As with family photos, buyers will often comment on these items trying to form opinions on who you, the sellers, are rather than focusing on the home.

Pack them up in boxes so you have one less thing to do later on moving day.

6) Make it difficult for me to show your house

I know selling your home is a pain, that you have a life and the appointment time I'm suggesting might not fit into your schedule.   
But, hey I have a buyer that wants to look at your house. 
You want to sell your house right? 
Know what happens when you can't make that appointment time work?  The buyer goes and looks at other houses that are available to see at that time.  Do buyers reschedule to see your house at a later date?  Often times not.  Many buyers find another home that they like or are just not interested in going back to see one they couldn't see right away.  I am not saying that you have to turn your life completely upside down and backwards.  I am just saying that if our appointment time does not work for you don't be surprised when we don't reschedule.  The buyer is likely to have moved on.

5) To continue on the pet theme, leave your cat roaming free throughout the house with a note by the front door stating "Please do not let the cat out".

You are setting up a stressful rather than relaxing situation for the potential buyer and for me the buyers agent.  Buyers are forced to dash in and out of doors rather than wander freely throughout the home and property.  They miss out on the opportunity to call back into the house to their spouse or partner that "they have got to come see this garden, bbq area, hot tub etc" because they had to shut the door so the cat didn't get out.  If they do get wrapped up in looking at the house and forget to shut doors I have to remind them instead of pointing out the features and benefits of your property.  You just made me the nagging hall monitor instead of the helpful agent.  When your pet does manage a jail break, as I swear 99% of them do, I am forced to give chase to Houdini the Wonder Kitty.  Meanwhile my buyers are cooling their heals either irritated that we are off schedule or more likely worried that you are going to be mad if we don't catch your pet and get them back inside your home.

Again the focus has been shifted away from your home.

4) Don't replace burned out light bulbs or use low wattage bulbs.

Yes I know it's only the laundry room, a closet or the spare bedroom you never use but guess what? The buyer wants to see these spaces and when the buyer can't see it they can't form an opinion.  Use a good high watt bulb that appropriatley lights the space.  While the lower wattage bulb will save on your electric bill it will also make for a dark space.  Dark spaces do not impress buyers.  I will typically bring a flash light to help out when a bulb is out but it is still not the same as having a working bulb with the appropriate wattage to light the room to the best benefit.  Buyers will focus on the burned out bulb instead of the space.  Is it just the bulb?  Is there something wrong with the fixture?  If the bulb is dim buyers will focus on how dark the space is instead of how useful it might be.

Don't give them a chance to wonder and worry just replace the bulb and show off the assests of your home in the "best light".

3) Close all the curtains and turn off all the lights

When we walk into the house instead of immediately noticing the great things about the house we are going to be fumbling around looking for light switches.  It is likely that either I or one of the buyers may stub a toe on a hall table trying to find the switch.  Buyers are hesitant to enter dark areas.  In a home that is dark the buyers tend to follow me around as I turn lights on instead of lingering in various rooms to focus on what they might like about a room.  They feel more like they are intruding and less like they are welcome.  Instead of paying attention to the homes benefits they worry about whether they remembered to turn a light off as they left a room.   They also don't get as much of my attention because instead of being able to answer their questions about whether or not the fridge is included or what the square footage of the lot is I am running around opening and shutting drapes and turning light switches on and off.

I know it may not be practical to leave all the drapes open and all the lights on all the time.  At least leave the drapes open on the windows with the best views and leave a few lights on so we can find our way around the house.  If it was on when we got there I will leave it on when we depart.  If it was off I will turn it off.  Please at least leave the porch light on.  I do carry a flashlight but it is just not the same as pulling up to a home with a welcoming porch light on.

2) Turn the heat down

I know especially if you have already moved out that you would like to save on that energy bill but if it is colder in your house than it is outside buyers don't want to linger.  They don't get a warm cozy feeling from your home.  They just feel cold and that feeling transfers to an emotional opinion of your home.  If you can't keep the heat all the way up at least keep it at 55 so we are comfortable in our coats and for heaven sake if you are going to turn the heat down don't expect us to take our shoes off, leave some shoe covers.

One of the quickest ways to drive a potential buyer out of your house is to make them view a cold house in stocking feet.  It is hard to admire the spacious kitchen when your feet are being flash frozen by the cold tile floors.

1) Stay in your home while we are showing it

This is the BEST most SURE FIRE way to make a large majority of buyers uncomfortable.  Buyers don't even come close to paying attention to the features and benefits of a home if you are there.  They are so nervous about offending you and so uncomfortable looking at your home while you sit in your living room or worse follow them around that they rush through. They will tell you thanks for letting them look and dash out. Upon leaving they can't begin to tell me if they noticed what colors the wall were, if there was carpet in the living room or if they liked the kitchen or not. 

What they do tell me is "That was uncomfortable", "I don't like looking at homes when the seller is there" and "Can you make sure the seller will be gone at the next one, if they are there I don't want to see it"

Leave, even if you go sit in your car, take a walk around the block or dash over to your neighbors, just leave.  The buyer will stay longer and pay more attention to your home then if you are there.  If they are interested in your home and have questions I will call your agent and ask.  Think about it.  Would you feel comfortable wandering through someone's master bedroom and checking out the closet space while they were sitting in the living room?

If the buyers fall in love with you home and decide to make an offer there will likely come a time where they will want to meet you and discuss your home at length and in detail with you. Typically buyer's and seller's agents are more than happy to set up this meeting.  It is just not the first time the buyers are viewing your home.

Again, Please keep in mind these statements are meant to be helpful to sellers and give them a chance to look at things from the buyer's perspective.  These are just some of the things that may not typically be thought of as a big deal but do in fact distract buyers focus. 

Noelle Blazevich
John L. Scott - North Bend
When you work with me it's about YOU!

Noelle Blazevich on John L.
On Facebook
On You Tube
Virtual Tours of My Listings


Comments (140)

Don Sabinske
Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
Sabinske & Associates Inc.

Great post...and I agree with Virginia...Those steps can be scary, especially when children are running around and you are trying to keep track of them, too. 

Apr 11, 2010 02:20 AM
Real Estate Guy in Madison, Wisconsin
Powered by: Real Broker LLC - Madison, WI
Real Estate Guy

Nicole, thanks a great post. 

You have my reblog. 

Apr 11, 2010 02:24 AM
Geoff ONeill
John L. Scott Medford - Medford, OR

Don't forget "Refuse to ackowlege the cat pee smell in your home"

Apr 11, 2010 02:29 AM
Ty Lacroix
Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc - London, ON

10 sure fire ways to keep your home on the market longer!


Apr 11, 2010 07:14 AM
Lydia Puller, Realtor
Vanguard Properties - San Francisco, CA
Homes for Sale in San Francisco, Marin & East Bay

So true always surprises me when Sellers want to sell their home for the highest dollar when they do nothing to make their home appealing to Buyers.  I do have the occasional Seller that does not want t do anything to their home prior to showing and I tell them truthfully that it will take much longer to sell and they will not get top dollar for their poperty.  When I have this type of Seller I make sure to write into the listing agreement that if the listing does not sell or if the Seller cancels the contract and relists with another agent that they will reimburse me for my marketing costs.  That pretty much seals the deal and 95% "fix" up the house so its appealing. I've only had to ask for reimbursement from 1 Seller about 7-8 years ago.

Apr 11, 2010 08:45 AM
Monique Ting
INET Realty Honolulu, HI - Honolulu, HI
Your agent under the sun

That's a great list with a reminder that trying to sell a home is like going out on a first date. You want to make the best impression.

Apr 11, 2010 09:53 AM
Gary Pike
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers - Powder Springs, GA

Great post and it's all true.  Although for the Listing Agent it sometimes doesn't matter how well they coach their seller just won't listen.

Apr 11, 2010 01:50 PM
Joel Jadofsky
Keller Williams - homes for sale - Florida - Gulf - Beach - Panama City Beach, FL
One of the Top Realtors in Panama City Beach Area

Great tell them this and they just dont see it...

Apr 11, 2010 02:30 PM
Sedruola Maruska
Exit First Choice Professional Realty - Worcester, MA

Yes, yes, and yes!!! It may be good for an agent who can't get a seller to comply to enlist the help of a stager who will reinforce the same information and maybe help get the seller to comply and get their home sold!!!!

Apr 12, 2010 05:34 AM
Noelle Blazevich
John L. Scott - North Bend, WA

Thank you all for all your comments in support of this blog entry.  I had to laugh yesterday while showing homes when not one, but two sellers were present during the showing even though we had gone to great lengths to avoid it.  My buyers were not thrilled.

Apr 13, 2010 04:41 AM
Merri Harrison

Your list is fabulous & so accurate!

Apr 14, 2010 09:48 AM
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

I really REALLY hate those airfresheners plugged in right at the front door. You walk in and WOW, what's that smell? The seller might think it's a nice smell, but buyers feel they're covering something up and you just singed their nose hairs doing it!

Apr 15, 2010 08:03 AM
Steven Pahl
Keller Williams Tampa Properties - Tampa, FL
Real Estate Consultant Tampa, FL 813-319-6423

Great list, let me add:

Don't make obvious repairs and sell "As Is" for sellers convenience!  A sure fire reason for the Buyer to ask "What else is wrong?"

Apr 17, 2010 12:53 AM
Gary Swanson
Century 21 Harris & Taylor - Grants Pass, OR

Excellent post Noelle!  I wish I could just email it to all my sellers!

Apr 23, 2010 05:07 PM
Sonja Adams
Keller Williams Realty - Purcellville, VA

Love this post and applies to everyone!  Thank you for sharing it!

May 25, 2010 04:27 AM
Shanna Hall
Real Estate Solutions - Kirkwood, MO
I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311

Exceent post!  I loved it and I laughed a lot while reading it!

May 25, 2010 05:12 AM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This is good stuff Noelle. Take all the magnets off the refrigerator, could be #11.

Jun 01, 2010 05:44 PM
Gloria Todor
Premier Property Sales & Rentals - Springfield, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Noelle, thanks for this great list.  Re-blogging.....


Jun 03, 2010 03:51 PM
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

As a stager, I really appreciate the input from a "boots on the ground" person who can say with authority what stagers say every day.  We are never present when the buyer sees these things, but we say with absolute surety that these things are true.  Problem is, since we are not present, there appears to be some doubt as to the authenticity of our statements.  THANK YOU for confirming, what you have witnessed and we profess to every seller we work with.  Judging from some MLS photos, some of your RE peers need to listen along with the sellers! =o) Re-blogged!

Aug 19, 2010 04:36 AM

Thanks for the list!  I was in a house last week and all the doors on the kitchen cabinets were open.  I thought that was odd until I tried closing them, and none of them would close, they were all swollen.  Then interestingly enough I saw a toy monkey hanging from the ceiling on the opposite side of the room.  I asked the realtor if this was an attempt to distract me from the cabinets.  She didn't know or wouldn't say.

A certain clue that a house is a dump and not worth the time to look at it, is the photos you see at  If the photos are all closeups of a wall, or just various angle shots of one part of the outside, then you know they are hiding all the scary looking kitchens, bathrooms, basements, etc., by NOT showing them in the photos.

Apr 21, 2011 04:38 PM