7 Of The Biggest Home-Buyer Turnoffs

7 Of The Biggest Home-Buyer Turnoffs

Home sellers in hot real-estate markets — where there’s not enough for-sale inventory for the number of people who want to buy — may not feel compelled to go all out in preparing their home before listing. This could be a huge downfall in thinking.

Home sellers should do these minimum: Keep the house free of common issues that send prospective buyers running for the doors. In the book “Next Generation Real Estate”, the author lists some of the most common buyer turnoffs — and how to handle them, which often takes daily discipline.

“Bidding wars happen for perfectly-located homes that show like museums,” he said. “When your house is on the market, you have to be living on egg shells — you have a month or two of being tidy.”

The payoff of an always-neat home: You’re more likely to get a higher price, he said.

It’s always best to de-clutter, depersonalize and add a fresh, neutral-colored coat of paint before listing. But if you do nothing else to prepare your home for sale, steer clear of the following buyer turnoffs before allowing a prospective buyer to walk through your home.

Pets and their things:

Nobody wants to see a dirty kitty litter box or a dog bone on the sofa, DeSimone said. And as best you can, get rid of lingering pet smells. (Cat urine on the carpet, DeSimone said, is one of the hardest smells to remove. Even worse, sometimes it can seep into the hardwood floors below.)

“The most offensive odor is animals, and you can plug in, light up and spray all you want,” but it won’t completely cover up the smell, said real-estate agent Heather Lamp, based in Fort Mill, S.C. She recently wrote a blog post about issues that most annoy buyers when walking through homes.

Pets should be out of the house during showings. If possible, it’s easier to have a friend or relative watch your dog or cat during the entire time your home is on the market, Lamp said.

Toys and baby supplies:

Other parents will understand how difficult it is to keep a home tidy with children in the house. But not all potential buyers will be parents. Make sure all toys have a home in a toy chest or closet.

If you have a newborn, dirty diapers need to be taken out and breast pumps should be out of sight. Dirty bottles and breast milk shouldn’t be left out; buyers may get the impression that the home isn’t sanitary, DeSimone said. In fact, store the clean bottles, too, and don’t leave them on a drying rack near the sink. Give yourself a good 20 minutes to pack up baby items before a showing, he said.

Cooking smells:

The second most offensive smell, in Lamp’s book: Cooking smells.

Strong spices, bacon, onions — they all tend to linger long after the meal is over, she said. To diffuse them, leave a window slightly cracked while cooking. After you’re done with the meal, boil some cinnamon in water to freshen up the house. Plug-ins and sprays can make the problem even worse for people who are sensitive to smells — or allergic to the fresheners, she said.

One buyer Lamp was working with didn’t get two feet in the door before she turned around, due to the smell of strong spices. Another time, the buyer left after smelling incense burning.

Cigarette smoke:

For many, the smell of cigarette smoke throughout a home is a deal breaker, and a reason to hasten a walk through, DeSimone said. “If you’re a smoker, seriously, get the whole house painted,” he said.

Dirty dishes, cluttered counters:

No buyer will want to see last night’s spaghetti stuck to plates in the sink. That’s a given. But clutter on the counters, from the coffee maker to the toaster oven, also will be a distraction, making counter space look smaller and your kitchen, in general, looking messy.

DeSimone’s advice: Create a special drawer or cabinet for things that you use on a regular basis, but need to be stashed away. That will help you quickly find a place for them each day.

Messy bathrooms:

Women, in particular, clutter bathrooms with makeup, perfumes and other grooming items, Lamp said. Store everything under the counter. And make sure hair is out of the tub and toothpaste smears are wiped out of the sink, Lamp said.

“I don’t know how people live like this,” or “I thought I was a mess, and now I feel like I have obsessive compulsive disorder,” are a couple of comments Lamp has heard clients utter when walking through messy bathrooms. Sometimes, through body language with their significant others, such as a nod or a raise of the eyebrows, she can sense their disapproval.

Dirty toilets:

Keep a clean (and flushed!) toilet and always keep the lid down. Enough said.

Malakai Sparks
malakai@tmsg.me
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