10 Salt Lake City Homebuyer Turnoffs

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Do you remember back in 2007 when homebuyers would literally beg to purchase your home? Even bidding more than asking price for the opportunity to do so?  Wow, what a difference a couple of years make!  Today, this is not the case. Once the real estate bubble burst and foreclosures poisoned the housing pool, buyers suddenly regained the upper hand. But instead of buying, they're waiting, convinced that housing prices will continue to drop.

What's a smart seller to do in this environment?

Here are 10 items that sellers should take a look at and handle TODAY!

1. Dirt

Hands down, NOTHING turns off a buyer quicker than a dirty house.

The No. 1 biggest mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition. Linda Secrist and Associates strongly recommend that sellers go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets. If the carpets are old and smelly, you should put in new. If the carpets are in good condition and are relatively new, then at least have them cleaned by a carpet cleaning professional.

GRIME CAN AND WILL DERAIL A SHOWING! The home should be neat and clean and free of all debris. If it reeks of cats, or the kitchen sinks and counters are filthy and cluttered, agents and their buyers will not want to come in or at least not continue through the rest of your home.

2. Odors

Buyers, it's said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting.

Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors. You may even want to avoid cooking foods, like fried foods, fish, or using certain spices that can leave lingering odors, such as garlic or curry, while your home is on the market.

Some pet owners mistakenly believe pet smells to which they've become accustomed help make their abode homey. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you're a dog person, you might tend to think everyone else is a dog person. But the truth is, 50 percent of the population hates dogs and doesn't want to be near them. If you have pets in the home, you need to deal with them while your home is on the market, to avoid these odors.

It is a good idea to iliminate all traces of pets, not just pet odors. It's important to get rid of pet paraphernalia and have a "pet plan" to make sure the animals are not around when the house is shown.

Often, sellers will leave pet items out such as dog dishes, cat litter boxes, etc. These items will immediately deter a buyer because they wonder, 'What has that animal done in the house?' Also, some people really don't like dogs. The minute they walk in and see this big, old dog bowl, they immediately won't like the house. Same for cats, rodents and especially reptiles!

The same rules hold true for smokers: Remove all ashtrays, clean all curtains and upholstery, and consider smoking outdoors while your home is on the market.

3. Old fixtures

Want buyers to roll their eyes? Leave old fixtures on your doors and cabinets. This may surprise many sellers, but new cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, but it makes a huge difference.

The same holds true for dated ceiling fans, light fixtures and kitchen appliances.

Sellers often say, 'Oh, the buyers can take care of that.' Well, yes they can, but it's going to impede you from getting the highest price possible for your home and it, most likely, will make your home take longer to sell.

4. Wallpaper

Your grandmother may have had it in every bedroom. Your mom may have loved it as a room accent. But today's buyer wants no part of wallpaper. Wallpaper, in today's market, is a definite NO-NO!

Wallpaper is a pain to remove and simply adds another chore to a buyer's to-do list. Today's buyers are very reluctant to take part in this task and will move on to the next home.

Wallpaper is extremely personalized. You've spent hours looking over books to pick out the wallpaper you want. What are the odds that the person walking in the door will also like that wallpaper that you picked out?

5. Popcorn acoustic ceilings

Times change, and with them home decor styles. Acoustic popcorn ceilings, once the must-have for fashionable homes in the '60s and '70s, now badly date your space. Popcorn acoustic ceiling is a major turnoff! Best to get rid of it.

If you can't stomach the cost or the mess to remove the overhead popcorn, be prepared to credit a buyer in certain markets in order to close a sale.

6. Too many personal items

When buyers tour a home, phsycologically, they're trying it on to see how it fits, just as they would a pair of pants. If your house is cluttered with too many personal items, it's like the buyer is trying on those clothes with you still in them. A fit is unlikely.

Anything that makes your house scream 'you' is what you don't want. Linda Secrist tells her clients that how we decorate to live and how we decorate to sell are different, and right now, it's crucial to decorate to SELL!

Sellers should try to eliminate personal items, including family photos, personal effects and even unique colors, she says.  

As soon as you have family photos, buyers get very distracted. 'Oh, did I go to school with him? What do their children look like?'  Suddenly, you're selling your family, and you're not selling the home.

If you really want to hook a buyer, try to place a mirror strategically so that people can actually see themselves in the home, so they can actually picture themselves living there.

7. Snoopy sellers

Realtors and buyers alike generally bristle when the seller greets them at the door for a showing.

It can be annoying and a deterrent. They will want to walk around with the potential buyer and put in their two cents' worth. It's not good. Realistically, there is only one out of 10 sellers where it's OK to have them there, and that's because they know what is up with the property and how everything works.

8. Misrepresenting your home

Misrepresenting your house online in the Multiple Listing Service is a sure way to really upset buyers and their Realtors.

No buyer wants to see the perfect house online, go to see it, only to find out there is a commercial development backing your yard. Be up front, even show a photo within the home tour with the commercial development. Otherwise, you may get your home ready to show and the buyer will refuse to even go in. Best to prepare the buyer prior to going to the lengths it takes to get your home show-worthy.

Sellers are going to paint the best picture they can. Some listings we 've looked at and wondered how in the world they got that gorgeous photo without showing all the junk that's around it. When you get there, you wonder why didn't they just be upfront?

9. Poor curb appeal

Much is made of curb appeal, and for good reason: It's your home's handshake, the critical first impression that lasts with most buyers.

Sellers need to trim and edge their yard to get it into the most immaculate condition possible. Power wash the exterior, make certain mud daubers, wasp and bird nests are removed from around doors. Even freshly mulch the beds and trim the trees. Every little detail counts.

10. Clutter

Whether inside or out, less is more when it comes to clutter.

Start in the closets. Your closets should be half-full with nothing on the floor. Why? Because most people looking for a house have outgrown their previous house. Showing them that you've still got room to grow gives them a reason to buy.

Kitchens and built-in bookshelves should showcase spaciousness by following the rule of three. For kitchens, there should be no more than three countertop appliances. Meanwhile, bookshelves should be divided into thirds: one-third books, one-third vases and pictures, and one-third empty.

The home office should be very generic so any type of professional can imagine living there. Keep a laundry basket handy for quick pick up of toddler/children's toys, so that when you get a phone call one hour prior to a showing, this will be a quick and easy clean up.





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Comments (1)

Brett Butler
Linda Secrist and Associates (Prudential) - Draper, UT

Thanks for the great post!

Jul 12, 2011 11:09 AM