Polish your Home Before a Showing . . . The Right Way

Real Estate Agent with EXIT Pro Realty

showing your homeI was recently showing some very upscale homes in the Pinnacle Hills area to a nice couple relocating to Northwest Arkansas from San Francisco.  We looked at a heap of homes over Saturday and Sunday and finally found them the perfect house they could call home.  One thing kept bugging me as we viewed home after home in Pinnacle Hills, Shadow Valley, and a number of other upscale neighborhoods in Rogers and Bentonville . . . how the homes showed!  I hope no one takes offence, but someone needs to be taught how to stage a home prior to a showing.  These are half million to million dollar homes in the nicest neighborhoods in Northwest Arkansas and most of them have major polish problems almost to the point of being ‘cliche’.  Out of 18 homes we viewed over the two day home show marathon, only about a third of them were occupied.  Most of the unoccupied homes were dusty, dirty, and generally unfit to show to a high end buyer.The occupied homes were definitely cleaner but they had some problems.  I’m going to focus on the occupied homes here but just wait unoccupied homes, your time, it is a-comin’.

Here are the problems I saw and how they could easily be rectified . . .

Fragrant smells in the Home.

One home we viewed had 14 (I counted) fragrant candles burning when we arrived.  The wall of perfumed air waifed over us like a crashing tsunami.  We went ahead and looked at the home.  It had a nice split floor plan with an updated kitchen and a rather strange office/study/library/dining room combination.  It was tastefully decorated in a sort of New England fashion.  It also had terribly dirty carpet.  It looked like a cat had a fight with the carpet and won.  The only reason I remember anything about it is because I wrote down some key features as we raced through the rooms on our quest to escape the pungent mix of aromas.  Of course, I understand why they lit 14 candles.  The cat (or some wild beast) probably urinated all over the carpet causing the unpleasant “Cat P*$&” odor.  How about Febreeze?  Stanley Steemer? Spot Shot?  Anything ring a bell?  Ultimately, the carpet is going to have to be replaced so why not get it out of the way so the home will show better?  Strong smells are a complete no-no when polishing your home for a showing.  Bake a batch of cookies.  Spray a little air freshener.  Make a pie.  Don’t burn your house down with aromatic candles.STAGING YOUR HOME TO SHOW

Pets can be a mixed bag.

I recently listed a property that was home to a small pet deer (one of the little baby ones with the spots).  The owners generally let it roam free in the back yard.  It’s not like the thing is dangerous or imposing.  Actually, it’s adorable.  Still, I have had a number of potential buyers list the pet deer as one of the ‘things’ they didn’t like about the house.  They do know the deer doesn’t come with the house, right?  Other buyers were so in love with the deer I think they forgot what the house even looked like.

Going back to my buyers from San Francisco, they have a dog.  They love dogs.  Unfortunately, not all dogs love strangers in their home.  This happened to us exactly three times on the Saturday and Sunday we were looking at luxury homes.  I can even name off the breeds: Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier, and Bull Mastiff (yeah, I’m serious).  These were three unfriendly encounters that made it very difficult to show and focus on the properties we were viewing.  I know it’s a pain but put up your animals.  It’s hard to focus on the beautiful granite counter-tops when fido is in the laundry room baying like a bloodhound on the scent of a coon(that’s raccoon, yeah, this is Arkansas).

Use common sense.

Polishing a home before a showing is not a grand mystery of real estate.  Pick things up, keep the home uncluttered and a little less ‘personalized’, use brighter lights, vacuum and sweep regularly, these are all common sense things that everyone should do to make any home show better.  If you’re home has an eyesore or problem area, consider fixing them before they are brought to your attention by today’s well informed and ‘out for blood’ buyers.  We know it’s a buyer’s market.  Don’t give them an excuse to give you a lowball offer or demand unreasonable concessions.  Know what your home is worth and be proud to show off it’s strengths.  Downplay any weaknesses without concealing them as that is quite illegal and against the Realtor Code of Ethics.  Keep a look out for more ‘polishing tips’ in the future or contact me to get my complete Showing Checklist for Home Sellers.  Your wallet will thank you.


Polishing your Home Before a Showing . . . the Right Way

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Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Hi Ben! Great Post.  I'm wondering about those candles. I have shown homes with the same thing, not to an extreme --- but unattended candles....burning in a house !! That seems so dangerous to me.  I ususally extinguish them before we leave.  I'm sorry, but I just can't leave with them still burning!

Sorry I know that's a little off topic.

Jan 24, 2009 12:31 PM #1
Donna Schoby
Liberty Bank of Arkansas - Bentonville, AR

Hi Ben, Wonderful Post! Sellers in today's market need to realize how important these factors are.  I see to many sellers losing sales or leaving money on the table. The market has changed on how to sell your home...you just can't put a For Sale sign in the yard anymore.

Jan 25, 2009 04:35 AM #2
Patty Peck Flagstaff Real Estate
Realty One Group / Mountain Desert - Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff REALTOR

Yes Ben,

Pets can be a mixed bag and usually distracting at best.  But here's a story where wildlife helped out with my sale tremendously. 

I live and work in Flagstaff, AZ., which is a high country mountain town.  My buyers and I were attending their inspection.  While the inspector was underneath the home, we decided to go out onto the deck - even though it was the end of December, it was still pretty mild.  To our amazement, in the backyard which was heavily wooded and a common area for several homes, were 10 -12 elk, just kicking back, grazing, napping, having a great elk day.  I couldn't help but smile and think to myself, "there's not one thing in this world I could do in a more perfect way that would clinch this deal - no matter what the inspector finds, we're gonna be closing this one".  I was right - we closed, and my buyers still enjoy the elk from time to time, when the big beautiful creatures decide to bless the neighborhood with their presence.   I love selling real estate in Flagstaff, AZ!

Jan 25, 2009 02:04 PM #3
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Ben -  fragrant candles can be so overwhelming that I cannot stand them. And the carpet is always an indicator . . . I have shown and previewed a number of homes lately with smells that were extremely unpleasant to say the least. Great post you have written here.

Jan 26, 2009 02:25 AM #4
Bill Saunders, Realtor®
Meyers Realty - Hot Springs, AR

Great Post, Ben.

Usually well meaning candles invoke alarm bells as to what the seller is trying to cover up, even when there is nothing TO cover up...plus the obvious danger of fire...

Mary, you bring up an excellent point, I think I will from now on extinguish the candles also.

Best of luck to all!

Feb 23, 2009 09:50 PM #5
Diane Williams
Pell City, AL

Fragrant smells in the Home. I just loved that paragraph, I got so tickled reading it.  Ain't that the truth... 


Dec 01, 2009 10:41 AM #6
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