Monday, April 28, 2014

11 Ways Home Sellers Inadvertently Put Themselves at a Disadvantage in Their Home Sale

This article appeared on written by a Real Estate Broker who also works as the sites real estate correspondent.  
Selling your home is not a science but there are some standards that should always be maintained. For some reason sellers can get in the way of their own sale and mess it all up. Some sellers can't understand why real estate agents ask them not to be present during showings. Buyers are not too interested in hearing the gory details of how little Johnny killed the cat in the dryer or any other wonderful stories.
1. When you hire a real estate agent to market your home, you interviewed 2 or 3 agents and picked the best, now let them do their job. Of course the owner can sell the home.  They know every little thing that any new homeowner would want to know and they want to tell them.  Go for a walk when buyers come to see your home.  Your presence makes prospects uncomfortable.  They feel like you are watching them and you are.  They are hesitant to ask questions.  Allowing their agent to address those questions, resolves unknowns and allows the agent to resolve barriers to buying your home.
2. Canceling and not allowing showings or setting rules for showing times that prevent buyers from seeing the home. No showings on weekends, 48 hour notice no exceptions or listing agent must be present for all showings. These things may be convenient for the seller but are red flags for any buyer agent they just won't show the home at all.  For the same reasons why the prospects are uncomfortable with the owners presence, it's similar with the owner's agent.  They feel like they are being watched and all they want to do it leave.  We want prospects to see themselves in that home and the listing agent represents the owner.  It reminds them they are in someone else's house, looking at someone else's things.  They don't want to be critical in front of the listing agent and they need to sort those things out with their own agent so they see it as a place where they can live.  Also, if an appointment is long and a listing has to be cut, which one are they going to cut?  The one where they have to be perfectly onetime because someone is waiting for them.  Clients are late all the time.  They may linger at a property and the agent wants to allow them to linger because that generally means they like it.  Showing appointments are usually set for a window and not a precise time.  When the agent knows someone is waiting for them it can create tension if they are late.  If the showing is long, guess which one they cut??!
3. Holding off the photographer and visual tour photographer because you are not ready or the house is not ready. Your listing depends on pictures and visual tours to get buyers to your home. They can preview the property 24 hours 7 days a week without leaving their own home. Almost 80% of buyers start their home search on the internet with pictures, lots of pictures and visual tours.
4. Your dog and cat can stop a buyer agent in her tracks and take your home off the showing list. Remarks on your listing like "don't let the cat out" or "the dog barks a lot so put her outside" can slow down showings. My all time favorite is "don't go in the garage the dogs will bite and hurt you." Kitty litter on the kitchen floor or dog stains on the furniture are not good things.
5. Odors kill a deal every time. What's worse is using a smelly fragrant deodorizer trying to mask a bad odor. Clean and fresh smell always works with buyers. Keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean make sure all trash cans are empty and trash moved out of the house to outside closed containers.  Remove the kitty litter and send the cat to your mom's.  They smell cat odor and they wonder what it will take to get rid of it.
6. Over stuffed closets, garages full of your junk so much so that you can't fit a car, basements full of stuff, too much furniture, all of your collections on display in every room. All of this stuff gets in the way, clean it out.  Your closets should look like an add for California Closets - neat organized, color coordinated.  
7. A dirty house won't sell unless it is distress sales to an investor where you can expect a low ball offer, if you don't care it will show. Buyers like to see the outside when they open the blinds it's not a good thing that dust and dirt fall down on them. Walking around toys, pillows on the floor or a generally messy house doesn't allow the buyers see the home they are more worried about what they will step on.

8.  Declutter - Depersonalize.   If it's cluttered, box up most of your stuff and put it in storage.  You're moving anyway? Right?  Leave your good furniture arranged as if your home was a showroom.  Staging can make a large different in price and selling time.  You want to give buyers an idea of how the rooms can be used.  Take the pictures off the fridge and personal photos on the wall.  They are reminders to prospects that they are walking around someone else's house.  You want them to think of themselves in the home.  You would be surprised at how distracting this is.  If you son painted his room neon blue, black or some other odd color... paint it over in a nice neutral color.
9. Uncut lawn, untrimmed shrubs, overgrown weeds do not make for good curb appeal. Trimmed and edged lawn and shrubs are a basic requirement of a good appearance that will attract buyers to your home. Buyers are always driving around neighborhoods they drive by disasters but stop and write down phone number and web addresses of well maintain homes.
10. Most home buyers are not looking for a project, the closer your home is to move in condition the quicker sale you will have. The exterior of your home must be in very good condition. No broken windows all screens in place, rain gutters clean and properly attached. Doors, shutters and trim freshly painted.  There is a relationship between cost and perceived value but it's not necessarily a one to one relationship.  Flippers focus on kitchens, bathrooms and floors because they add a lot of perceived value relative to the cost.  Conversely, small things which may be nothing to fix but are distracting can really take a hit at the perceived value of your home.  See point 11.
11. Turning on the kitchen faucet and it comes off in your hand is not going to get the buyer jumping to make an offer even if they like the house they maybe too embarrassed to make an offer because they broke something. Everything inside the home should work properly. Lights, doors, drawers, appliances, and kitchen and bath faucets.

As an aside, if you property is rented, you need to make sure your Tenants are cooperative.  You may have to pay to have it cleaned on a weekly basis, you need make sure you keep them happy.  In most states, the Tenants are obligated to cooperate on a sale but the law is vague on what that means.  If your Tenants refuse showings especially when agents are at the door and the Tenants just decide not to let them in, your agent colleagues will discourage their clients from wanting to see your property out of concerns that attempting do to so will be a bad experience.  Keep your Tenants happy because they have to do all the things above for you.  If that is just not possible, it will effect the sale price.
It's up to the seller to have the home ready and available for the buyers. If you are not ready don't put up the for sale sign, don't waste your time or your agents time and money. It cost money to properly market a home.
Information Provided by Donna Antonucci
201-240-6832 (listings search engine) (property valuation tool)