Trulia.com shares 6 characteristics of sellers, listings, and homes that turn home buyers off, and action steps you can take to prevent your home from being an offender:
1. Stalker-ish sellers. You might think you’re being helpful by following the buyer through your home and pointing out your favorite features. However, the buyers might be trying really hard to ignore, minimize, or figure out how to undo the very features of your home you hold dear. They also may want or need to have personal space and conversations with their mate or their agent while they’re viewing your home.
What’s a seller to do? Back off. Let your home be shown vacant, or leave the house when people come to see it. If the buyers have questions, their people will contact your people.
2. Shabby, dirty, crowded and/or smelly houses. You already know this one. Yet, buyers constantly marvel at the state of disrepair and disorder some homes are in when they are shown.
What’s a seller to do? Other than listing your home at a competitive price, the only tool within your control for differentiating your home from all the foreclosures and short sales is to show it in tip-top shape. Pre-pack your place up, getting rid of as many of your personal effects as possible. Do not show it without it being completely spic-and-span.
3. Irrational seller expectations. Buying a house on today’s market is hard work! With so many homes on the market, the last thing buyers want or need to add to their task lists is trying to argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing. When they see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home’s value and has priced it sky-high, most often they won’t bother even looking at it.
What’s a seller to do? Get real. Get out there and look at the other properties that are for sale in your area and price range. Get multiple agents’ take on what your home should be listed at, and don’t take it personally if their recommendation is low. Don’t be tempted into testing your market with an obviously too-high price, unless you’re prepared to have your home lag on the market and get lowball offers.
4. Feeling misled. You will never trick someone into buying your home. If the listing pictures are photo-edited, or your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant, as code for the fact that your house is under the train tracks, buyers will figure this out.
What’s a seller to do? Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest – so be both. If your home has features or aspects that are often perceived negatively, your home’s listing probably shouldn’t lead with them. But don’t go out of your way to slant, skew, or spin the facts which will be obvious to anyone who visits your home.
5. New, ugly home improvements. New home improvements that run totally counter to a buyer’s aesthetics are a big turn-off, because in today’s era of "conspicuous frugality," buyers just can’t cotton to ripping out expensive, brand new, perfectly functioning things just on the basis of style – especially since they’ll feel like they paid for these things in the price of the home.
What’s a seller to do? Check in with a local broker or agent before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel. They can give you a reality check about the likely return on your investment, and help you prioritize about which projects to do (or not).
6. Crazy listing photos (or no photos at all). I’ve seen listing photos featuring dumpsters, piles of laundry, and once, even the family dog doing his or her business in the lovely front yard. Listing pictures that put your home in anything but its best, accurate light are a very quick way to ensure that you turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house! The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pictures are listings that have no photos at all.
What’s a seller to do? Check your home’s listing online and make sure that the photos represent your home well. If not, ask your agent to grab some new shots and get them online, stat!
Ask Tara your pressing real estate questions at Trulia.com.