Avoid these common mistakes that will make prospective buyers wrinkle their noses and leave!
Many buyers will turn around and head out the door if they notice one of these selling missteps.
If your house is smelly, buyers won’t buy it. If your home smells like cigarettes, dogs, a litter box, or mold and mildew, you won’t be selling your home anytime soon, and if you do get an offer, it will likely be much lower than you’re asking. The problem with odors is that you may not recognize them. Ask someone you trust that hasn’t been in your home in a while to walk through and take a deep breath, then ask them what they smell. If you do have odors, you need to remove them, not cover them up. This can mean cleaning or redoing carpet, cleaning furniture, washing walls, keeping the pet isolated, and even a fresh coat of paint. Putting air fresheners in every room won’t work. You’ll just be adding new odors to a stinky house.
DOGS THAT MEET THE SHOPPER AT THE DOOR OR IN THE DRIVEWAY
Whenever you plan on showing the house, board the dogs somewhere else like a friend’s house or one of those doggy daycare facilities. The same goes for cats. If a shopper sees a dog, they’ll assume that your house smells like a pet. Control your pets and you can control part of the sale. Every alternative other than temporarily housing them off the property is a bad idea.
Grimy bathrooms are an instant turnoff. Scrub them, paint them, buy a new shower curtain, rugs, and towels--do what it takes to make them shine. If you’re serious about selling the home, the extra work is a must. Spending a few dollars on a new toilet and faucet may also give your bathroom a fresh, new feel.
DARK, DIMLY LIT ROOMS
Dark homes are a turnoff to most home buyers, so try to brighten them up with higher wattage bulbs, new fixtures, open blinds or drapes. If the room has a somber tone or muted color, it may be time to brighten it up by painting the walls white. Overall, repainting all the walls with white is a good idea. Personal colors on the walls may have been perfect for you, but will likely turn off most shoppers. While walls will reflect the available light and the room will immediately become brighter and more cheery! If you have trees with overhanging limbs that are blocking the light, remove those branches to let in more sunlight. Finally, wash all the windows!
Wallpaper is a personal choice, and though you may love the cute printed border with flowers and birds at the top of your kitchen walls, chances are your buyers will not. Wallpaper turns off most buyers, and even people who love wallpaper rarely like what you’ve chosen. It’s a personal decorative touch that they want to select themselves. If you have wallpaper in one of your rooms, remove it, do not paint over it. Removing wallpaper is a process and it can be a little messy. Find a professional to do it. Once your walls are clean, repaint them white to brighten up the room.
There should be no insects, dead or alive, in your home. You should also not have any bug or roach traps visible in corners, drawers, or under cabinets.
POOR CURB APPEAL
If your house doesn’t look good from the curb, shoppers will not even get out of the car to walk inside. The way your house looks from the street is what they’re going to look at every day of their lives for the next five to ten years. If they don’t love it, they’ll leave it! New landscaping, fresh paint, a manicured lawn, clean gutters and maybe even a new front door are all great investments if you want to sell your home quickly and get top-dollar for it.
If your home has popcorn ceilings, especially in the main rooms, remove it. It makes your house look old. These ceilings were popular in the 1970s and ’80, and if a shopper thinks your home is that old, they’ll probably assume that other areas, such as the HVAC system, carpet or plumbing may have also been neglected. Have the ceilings in the main rooms redone so people can form an opinion of you home based on the living room, entryway and kitchen before they see the popcorn ceilings in the kid’s rooms. If you choose to leave the popcorn ceiling intact, be prepared for fewer offers. Those offers you do get will be lower so the buyer can have the ceiling updated.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll probably need to remove one third to a half of what you have in some rooms to make the buyer appreciate your home. Getting rid of a few chairs, a leaf in the tables, floor rugs, and small end tables of bookcases is a good idea. Remove most of the photos and books you have on the bookcases and the tabletops that remain in your home should not have anything on them. You’re staging your home to sell, not make new friends. Get rid of as many personal items as you can. You don’t want the buyer to feel that they’re breaking up a happy family if they buy this house.
FLAWED FLOORS OR CRUDDY CARPET
If the tile, marble, or wood flooring is damaged or broken in your home, fix it. Some shoppers may feel that this is an indication that your foundation is bad and others just look at it as something else they’ll have to fix when they move in. If you do get an offer, it’ll be lower than you’d like. They may even ask for an allowance to fix these items. If your carpet is worn or stained, replace it with new carpet. Carpet isn’t expensive and even the bargain brand will better than your old carpet, and it will smell new!
Not everyone can spend the money to completely update an old kitchen, but most of us have the money (and talent) to install a new sink and water fixtures. At any rate, your kitchen should be spotless. If your kitchen needs severe updating, make sure the buyer knows (through the listing or agent) that you’re giving an allowance, or discounting the price of the home to allow the buyer to spend a little money updating the kitchen.
UGLY FRONT DOOR
A good coat of paint on a weathered front door can improve the impression your home will make on a shopper and probably get them a little close to your asking price. Make sure the front door is clean and that it doesn’t stick when opening or closing.
NASTY BACK YARD AND DECK
No clutter and simplicity is the rule for your back yard and deck. Remove clutter and unnecessary plants and items from your deck so it looks large and welcoming. Fix anything that is broken on the deck, and if it needs it, re-stain it. The back yard should be clean of toys, any pet debris and mowed. No one wants to move into a home where the deck and backyard look like a lot of work!
That’s right, you! The last thing that needs to be in your home when it is being shown is you. Leave the house during showings. Home buyers feel awkward about opening closet doors and lingering for a really good look at the house if the seller is home. If you’re selling by owner, give them some space, don’t hover.
You can fix most of these things with a little money and some effort. The sooner you start getting your old house in shape to sell, the sooner you can fully commit to finding your perfect new home. If you’re working with a real estate agent, they should be very helpful about the things they think need to be fixed to help your home sell. Take their suggestions seriously. You don’t want your home to gain a reputation in the agent community as the one that smells, or the one that is falling apart. If those things start spreading around, it’s only a matter of time before agents get the word, and stop showing your home to potential buyers. Fixing these items will not only help you sell your home quickly but should help you get the price you’re asking!