When it comes to presentation, some sellers excel and others flop. Throughout the years, the advice never changes; de-personalize, de-clutter, and if possible, go for a walk. Home buyers want to be able to picture living their own lives in a home. The sooner a buyer can establish an emotional connection to a property, the sooner that property will sell. So, if you are a seller, take our advice for your showing.
De-personalize so a potential buyer doesn’t feel like a guest during showings. If they can visualize their own pictures, family and furniture in your space, that’s a step in the right direction. De-clutter so buyers can see the space. It can be extremely hard for anyone to see a rooms full potential if they are trying to look past old magazines, figurines, and dust collectors. And finally, go for a walk. Let buyers experience your home at their own pace, and as relaxed as possible. As the seller, if you stay during a showing, most buyers will put up an emotional wall and will stay ‘guarded’ until they leave. Make sure you are out before they arrive and return after they have left.
Now, even though this is standard industry advice, sometimes we run into sellers that not only disregard this, but all seemingly common sense advice. These are the 10 worst offenses that realtors have encountered while showing homes to potential buyers. Please, if you are a seller, do not let any of these situations happen at your property.
#1: Left Behind
Some sellers do not believe in leaving their property when realtors and buyers arrive for showings. In most of these cases, the sellers will retire to a specific room, or will head outside to the patio to give a little space. However, some sellers take it a step farther. Showing up to a property for a scheduled showing only to find someone asleep in a bedroom or a seller in the shower can be a deal breaker. Even worse, you get to encounter a stalker seller.
Oh, but what is a stalker seller? Why, that would be a seller that literally follows the buyers step by step through a property pointing out ‘upgrades’, ‘enhancements’, and reciting the life story of that particular address. This consistently a top offense on buyer feedback forms. So avoid an awkward situation and be mindful of your showing appointments and personal space.
#2: Pets & Pet Messes
Information is a wonderful thing for agents. Most properties have an option for ‘pets on premises’ when it comes to showing instructions, and agents are used to relaying this information to any potential buyers. This is not only a convenience factor, but a safety factor as well. Many realtors advise sellers to place pets in crates, cages, or in a room that either has a barrier or is securely shut. But every so often there is a not-so-friendly canine or feline that has free reign of the home. Agents have been chased down flights of stairs by territorial pups, dive-bombed by aggressive avian fiends and had their ankles clawed by cats under couches. No place is safe when pets and strangers are pitted against each other during a showing. So please, lock up your pet or take them with you.
Peeeee-yyyooooooouuuuuuuu! A great tip for sellers who are getting ready for a showing; step outside for 2 minutes and then step back in. A little bit of fresh air can do wonders for your sense of smell. If you reenter your home and can smell leftover food, dirty laundry or anything dank, then light a candle, open a window and air that place out. One of the worst things you can do to a buyer is assault them with a wave of nasty smells from inside your home. From over-full litter boxes to rotten food left in the microwave, we have seen it all. If you know you have a showing coming up, maybe salmon and kale aren’t the best recipe options. Clean the pet cages, bring out the trash and for the love of god, clean the garbage disposal.
#4: Dirt, Grime and Worse
Dusting and general housework are common and expected when you are trying to sell something as expensive as a home. However, agents have found that not all sellers agree. Entering a bedroom with potential buyers is not the time to find dirty undies and personal items strewn around. Even worse is heading into a master bathroom to discover the toilet wasn’t flushed after someones morning routine. From grimy showers to food encrusted dishes still in the sink, there’s never a second chance to make a great first impression.
#5: The Enveloping Darkness
Who’s there? You can’t tell because the lights are out? Welcome to the enveloping darkness. Understandably, buyers would like to see what they are purchasing. Blackout curtains can be a life saver for those who like to sleep in or prefer little to no sunshine, but, for showings, sellers need to open those bad boys up! Let in the light. And as a safety aspect, please make sure there are working light bulbs. Agents and buyers alike have left properties a little banged up after running into furniture, tripping on cords and giving up on seeing a space because the bulbs have been removed from the fixtures. Please stop trying to kill our agents and buyers by keeping them in the dark.
#6: Pests & Vermin
Nothing will chase out a buyer quicker than opening the oven door and watching cockroaches poor out. Been there, ran out. Exterminators are a wonderful thing. So if you see a pest or, even worse, a vermin, call a professional. Buyers want to move in with their own pets, not the ones that are left behind in your attic. We’ve heard of agents and buyers hightailing it down the street after opening an outdoor shed and scaring a nest of rats, disturbing angry banana spiders in unkempt gardens , and having to spray down from fleas in untreated carpets. Just call the exterminator.
#7: Crude & Nude
My personal and favorite faux pas would have to be the time I was showing a property and found the living room decorated with huge framed cursing graffiti. Moving onto the master bedroom, we were surprised to find what I can only describe as fertility statues. I believe some were modeled after the karma sutra. And finally, the master bathroom where nude portraits of the same person repeated on almost every wall. I did not write a contract that day. Sellers, maximize your chances of an offer by packing or storing items that can be considered over the top, offensive or overly strange. This also includes props or decor such as whips, chains, cuffs and capes.
#8: What Kind of Herb Is In Your Garden?
Sigh…with all of the recent hype around what is legal, what may become legal, medicinal and recreational arguments are still waging. But, as a seller, kindly remove your herb from sight. Too many times agents and buyers have stumbled across recognizable odors, pipes, papers, bags, and the leftovers of a mellow time. Even worse is when this is coupled with evidence of other substances or delivery systems. Both agents and buyers have called to report some strange and bizarre illegal findings to the local police. So let’s just keep this in mind for any showings.
#9: Living in the Jungle
Neglected landscaping can be a nightmare when buyers are seeing a property for the first time. If the buyer didn’t put “jungle type atmosphere” on their shopping list, chances are they won’t be impressed with tall grass, untrimmed trees, bushes growing out of control and ant hills the size of a Volkswagen. And, just getting into an overgrown property can be a challenge for buyers who have allergies. A common question we are asked from buyers who visit jungle properties; What lives in the grass? Well, at this point, who knows. Agents who have had to cross a section of yard to reach a lockbox have disturbed snakes, stuck their foot into gopher or mole holes, and stumbled upon raccoons throwing parties by the garbage cans. So it really is best to just trim it back.
#10: It’s Not Broken, It Adds Character
Chipped paint, a cracked fence…these are ugly and unsightly to potential buyers, but they normally aren’t deal breakers. However, sticking your foot through the back deck because someone didn’t replace a rotten board? Yeah, that’s a problem. Major issues like exposed wires, deteriorating ceilings, soft or rotten flooring and active water leaks are just a few items that should be addressed by a seller PRIOR to showing a home.
Safety comes first. I’ve personally witnessed both an agent and the front porch sway back and forth because it was no longer attached to a home. We have previewed homes for clients and the ceilings have fallen in. One home even had a tension curtain rod inside a door frame to keep it from falling apart. Over 15 years of real estate, you get to see some crazy things. So fix the problems before the buyers show up.
Sellers! We hope that this list has not only provided some entertainment, but hopefully highlighted some of the ways you could be tanking your showings. Nobody sets out to make the worst selling mistakes possible, but it happens more often than you’d think. If you’d like additional advice from a professional, don’t hesitate to call or message us. We’d be happy to share some crazy stories full of helpful information.
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