Top 10 Sins of Sellers (Based On My Buyer Experience...)

Services for Real Estate Pros with Real Estate Pipeline, Inc.

Like many a person, I bought a home in 2009. And, although we are very happy with our home we did purchase, during this process, I happened to notice that as we viewed house after house, I kept seeing the same things happen over and over.

And…not good things. Bad things. Bad things that were blatantly obvious to me. Bad things that literally turned me off. Bad things that were keeping this otherwise fine house I was standing in from selling faster.

So, like any good blogger would we went through the homes, I started keeping track of things that made the average buyer (ME!) want to run away screaming.

Here is my “Top 10 Seller Sins”:

1. Addition Addiction – Ok…exactly what were these people thinking when they decided that adding this addition to their home was a good idea?? Was there alcohol involved?? It isn't level.The door frame isn't square.And, that simulated wood-grain indoor/outdoor Berber carpeting is FUGLY!! Wasn’t this were the garage should be anyway?? I guess that explains the severely sun-faded paint job on the Sport Family Truckster in the driveway and the Christmas decorations piled floor-to-ceiling in the closet in the spare bedroom. I don’t care what anyone says…Bigger is NOT always better.

2. The “Pet-Owner Moaner” – The over-all assumption here is that since the seller loves their pets more than chocolate, so does everyone else.Here are a couple of quotes I heard directly from the sellers mouths: “Awwww, my cat must really like you to nestle into your neck like that.”; “I know he looks big, but he is really just a teddy bear.”; “We were able to clean up everything in the house except the cat room.”; “I cant remember if my son put away the ferrets or not, but feel free to look around downstairs.”

A. Ok…first and foremost, I'm allergic to cats! I don’t mean that cats make me sneeze. I mean that I quit breathing and require adrenalin shots to keep from dieing. That thing is lucky I didn’t toss it out the open window that was next to me. 

B. The “teddy bear” they were referring to…?? Yeah, that was a 158lb Rottweiler with a googlie eye and a broken tooth on the right side. His chain was padlocked to a cinder block filled with cement that he happily drug around and tossed into the air during “playtime”. Kujo had nothing on this sucker...

C. The “cat room”???  Oh Lord in heaven! NEXT!

D. If you cant figure out if your son left out a pack of rodents in the dark rooms down the creaky stairs without a safety rail or a working light switch, you can be damn sure I'm not going to find out for you!

3. Auditory Unawareness – You cant hear that your refrigerator is making a clicking noise that can be heard from the front yard?? In that case, I'm fairly sure you cant hear the floorboards creaking, the doors squeaking, or the apparent family of either raccoons or velociraptors living in the attic. You also only hear what you want to hear.Instead of “Your house is priced too high”, you hear “Your house is of a high value”. Its not the same. Pay attention!

4.Color BlindHoly Lord!!  Who decorated this place?? Its like Andy Warhol threw his color pallet into a Cuisinart and hit ‘liquify’. The fuchsia flower print wallpaper needs to go. And, I don’t care what you say, it doesn’t do any justice to that wall with the fake wood-grain paneling it joins up to by the sunshine yellow couch.Worse yet…the white cabinets, white-washed walls, white counter tops, and white tile in the kitchen isn't clean looking. Its sterile. Hospital sterile. It's just a bit much. 

5.“Take it or leave it” – Yup...Heard that come right out of a seller’s own mouth. We were discussing the possibility of him making a necessary repair to a sliding glass door that lead out to a deck. Between the glass panes was about half an inch of standing water. Obviously, the seals on the window were compromised. When asked if he would spend the money to get the glass replaced and the seals re-done…or just replace the entire door…that was the response I got. Guess what…I left it.

6.Price-itis – The fear that your home wont sell for the price you are asking for it. I put in an offer on a home that was only $5,000 under what was being asked. The counter came back with a reduction of $1,000, but a clause to pay $4,000 in closing costs. Now, I may be bad at math…but, isn't that the same damn thing????

7.Fried Food Funk – You know what I'm talking about here.If you can smell it, you won’t sell it.Bottom line here is that fried food smells, kitty litter, a back yard filled with dog crap, a nursery wreaking of dirty diapers, etc…all add up to one thing – a very short showing.(Well, it also leads to gagging, shortness of breath, tears streaming down your face, and everyone scrunching up their nose and making that internationally known face that says, “Do you SMELL that???”)

8.Photog Fog – Everyone should take pride in their family photographs. I do. But, I'm not trying to sell my house!I went into one home where, I kid you not, the entire living walls…every square inch…was covered in frame pics of family. There must have been 100 pictures in that room.Frames mounted together like a patchwork quilt of memories and bad matting jobs. Love the sentiment…love the family pride. But, I was COMPLETELY distracted from seeing the actual house... Pack that crap up. Paint the walls. Do something to take the focus away from your "The Hills Have Eyes" family...m'k? Thanks.

9.“I collect them” No kidding, really???  Nothing would have made me realize you collect dolls were it not for the fact that I'm now suddenly very aware of the fact that 226 eyes are now following me through your house like Chucky with an ax to grind. Yeah, I couldn’t tell that you collect Vegas casino ash trays since they are on every flat surface in your entire house including 4 separate 6-ft tall bookshelves, your coffee table, the top of your TV, the end-tables, and the extra two shelves that you put up encircling the entire living room.  But, worse than that, you have them on your toilet tank, your dresser…and in an amazing twist, you have drilled holes in them and replaced half of the doorknobs in your house with them.  In case your agent hasn’t told you this…


10.Living in the past – I don’t care what you think, the pea soup green shag carpeting is not coming back in style.  And, regardless of how many memories are associated with it, the nine-foot long, hunter orange, pleather couch on the wooden legs with the sleigh-style arms on the each end is FREAKING UGLY!! Regardless of whether or not they still work, the matching avocado green stove, fridge, and counter tops are ugly…and they are ugly 24/7/365. If you want to move this house…replace this ferocious eyesore. Better yet…HIRE A HOME STAGER!

Yeah, selling a house is hard. Selling a house in the market is harder.Selling one of THESE houses with a seller that sins like this…nearly impossible. Sellers, if you are reading this…listen to your agents. Agents, if you are reading this…make sure your sellers understand that buyers – like me – will look at these like neither of you know what you are doing and act accordingly. Probably by running away...Scared. And, fast.


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Comments (14)

Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY

This was so well written - love the humor describing very real scenarios.  Home sellers must not take it personally...or try to sell it with personal items...let the new family visualize THEMSELVES in the home...not be blinded by the seller choices and tastes.  Great, great tips.  Thank you.

Sep 01, 2011 04:23 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Cara -- Thank you so much. ;-) And, that was exactly my point. :-) You are quite welcome.

Sep 01, 2011 04:24 AM
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

LOL, it is amazing how many sellers think this way. Of course they are the same ones that want top dollar for their home, but want to lowball everything else on the market.

Sep 01, 2011 04:26 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Than -- I know! I was just shocked at some of the things I saw...

Sep 01, 2011 04:27 AM
Emmary Simpson
Las Cruces Homes and Land - Las Cruces, NM
Serving Las Cruces, NM

One thing I was told when I sold my first personal home was to have a friend come over for the smell test. When you live in a place for a long time, you get accustomed to how your home smells - good or bad. A friend (as long as they're honest) can help pinpoint smell problems like a cat box, food odors and so on.

Sep 01, 2011 04:27 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Clint  I totally understand the cat part as i am allergic to cats too! Really get on the seller post isn't it . I should take this to a one of the Sellers who do not listen when you tell them what to do . You know what ?? They still probably won't  listen.


Sep 01, 2011 04:32 AM
Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

Funny post but I am so sick of agents who don't know how to help a buyer past these things.  Are you buying the orange couch?  NO!  Get over it.  Are the cats staying?  NO!  Get over it.   I take great pride in helping my Buyers get fantastic deals on properties that others are too foolish to visualize.   I also hate hearing my Buyers  complain about having to see one more 'staged'  home they're going to scream.  Every house seems to be painted in the same colour scheme for HGTV shows! 

But then again, I'm in a totally different kind of market so I guess you gotta do what you gotta do!

Sep 01, 2011 04:32 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Emmy -- Amen! Houses that stink dont sell.

Hannah -- Soul-less little devil children, they are... ;-)

Susan -- HGTV makes my head hurt. I feel your pain there.

Sep 01, 2011 04:34 AM
Kim McMahon
Executive Realty Group - Skokie, IL

Clint~ Great post and absolutely hysterical... too bad it's based on actual events.  But hey now!  Be nice to the Rottweilers (ours weighs 136# to be exact) they are just big teddy bears... just don't let them step on your feet :)

Sep 01, 2011 04:57 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Kim -- Thank you very much. ;-) Glad you liked it. I have a couple dogs...both lab crosses. One is 60lbs and one is 100lbs. I have no problem with big dogs...and mine are just as sweet as pie. But, this thing was just plain SCARY!! It was like a cross between a Rotty...and a T-Rex. ;-)

Sep 01, 2011 04:58 AM
Brian Morgenweck
Power Realty Group, LLC Bergen County, NJ - Hackensack, NJ
Broker/Owner, GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS

You found my TEDDY BEAR ?!?!

I have a "fictitious" situation like this... just cleaned out & estate says, "But, I'll have it painted!"

...Please do...with a WRECKING BALL!!!

Sep 01, 2011 01:23 PM
Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate
Results Real Estate 801.580.5624 - Draper, UT
Broker, Results Real Estate


thank you for the laugh and the great writting.  Fantastic points and I can relate to all the suggestions.  Just when you think you've seen it all something like 5 cats and no little box or chickens running in and out of the home (via the doggy door)


thanks again,





Sep 01, 2011 05:15 PM
Seana Yates
Thrive Homes and Estates - Encino, CA

You crack me up!  The "cat room".  I love that.  I have never had a seller like this, but I hope sellers everywhere read this.  It really hits the nail on the head.

Sep 06, 2011 10:29 AM
Kristi DeFazio
RE/MAX Advantage - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468

Clint- I had to repost this. I love your writing style and you really did a great job with this one. I am also very allergic to cats and don't love them either-haha!

Dec 02, 2011 03:38 AM