This may seem a bit harsh but the statements below are taken directly from the comments and behaviors of home buyers viewing homes for sale. They are not meant to be negative, but rather they are meant to give sellers a chance to see things from a potential home buyer's perspective.
10) Leave Your "FRIENDLY" Dog Roaming Free Inside The House When You Know We Have An Appointment To See It
Not all buyers are dog people. Whether they are dog people or not, many home buyers will actually be scared of your dog. I have had clients that 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. One way or the other, your darling pet has effectively distracted the buyer from looking at your home.
9) Leave Something Aromatic In The Crock Pot From Your Dinner Last Nite
Not all buyers are going to be fans of your food choices. In fact if it is particularly aromatic and something a buyer doesn't care for, they are likely to ask me if I think the smell will come out or ask to leave quickly because they don't like the smell. They were so focused on your food choice, they didn't bother to look at your house.
Bake an apple pie or some cookies. Vanilla scented air fresheners will give your home an inviting and welcome feeling.
8) Keep Your Family Photos On Display
Guess what? Potential buyers are going to look at your family photos to try to figure out: Do they know you? How many kids do you have? Who are you? What they are NOT doing is looking at your house.
7) Keep Your Nick Knacks Out
I know they are precious to you but they are distracting to a potential home 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 the sellers are, rather than focusing on the home. Please pack them up in boxes so you have one less thing to do on moving day.
6) Make It Difficult To Show Your Home
I know selling your home is a pain, that you have a life, and that the appointment time might not fit into your schedule. But, I have a buyer that wants to look at your house!!! You want to sell your house right??? Do you 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 that they couldn't see right away. I am not saying that you have to turn your life completely upside down. I am just saying that if our appointment time does not work for you, don't be surprised when we don't reschedule. Your potential home buyer is likely to have moved on.
5) To Continue On The Pet Theme: Leave Your Cat/Dog Roaming Freely Throughout Your House With A Note By The Front Door Stating "PLEASE DO NOT LET THE CAT/DOG OUT"
You are setting up a stressful rather than relaxing situation for the potential buyer and buyers agent. Potential home 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 just have got to come see this garden, barbecue area, hot tub, etc., because they had to shut the door so the cat didn't get out. If they do get interested in looking at your 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 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 Burnt 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, they can't form an opinion. Use a good high watt bulb that appropriately 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 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 show the home's benefits. 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 buyers a chance to wonder and worry; Replace the bulb and show off the assets of your home in their "best light".
3) Close All The Curtains And Turn Off All The Lights
When we walk into your house, instead of immediately noticing the great things about your house, we are going to be fumbling around looking for light switches. It is likely that one of the buyers may stub a toe on the 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 will feel more like they are intruding and less like they are welcome. Instead of paying attention to the homes features and benefits they may 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. Please leave the drapes open on the windows with the best views and leave a few lights on so potential home buyers can find their way. If it was on when we got there, I will leave it on. If it was off, I will turn it off. Please 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 Air Conditioner Off When It's 110 Degrees Outside
I know if you have already moved out that you would like to save on that energy bill but if it is warmer in your house than it is outside, buyers don't want to linger. They won't get a warm fuzzy feeling from your home. They'll just feel uncomfortably warm and that feeling transfers to an emotional opinion of your home. If you can't keep the a/c all the way up, at least keep it so they are comfortable.
1) Stay In Your Home While We Are Showing It
This is the BEST most SURE FIRE way to make a large majority of potential home 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 than 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 your 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.
Please keep in mind these statements are meant to be helpful to sellers to give them a chance to look at things from a potential buyer's perspective.
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Linda Strasberg All Rights Reserved