October 14th, 2014 5:00 PM by Eileen Denhard
Sometimes, even the most well-intentioned sellers forget that the point of marketing and staging their home is to impress as many potential buyers as possible. One wrong move can lower the sale price, or even worse, prevent a sale at all. Make sure your sellers are serious contenders by helping them steer clear of these somewhat surprising buyer turnoffs this fall.
Buyers stalk properties online and off, checking obsessively for price reductions and the like. But buyer-side home stalking is unobtrusive to sellers. On the other hand, buyers can feel stifled in their ability to fully explore or verbally process their impressions of a ƒhome when the seller hangs out inside the home while it’s being shown.
What Sellers Need to Know:Prospective buyers may not feel comfortable talking openly with their co-buyers or agents with the homeowner there, and may not open doors and drawers in front of the seller—potentially missing some of the home’s best features. Sure, a homeowner knows what makes the home shine and can answer questions, but so can a great agent. Trust him or her to communicate what makes the home special.
Sometimes it’s the little things that sellers think won’t matter that can block an offer. Of course, when inventory is low, sellers may have a better chance of snagging an offer despite design snafus, but when the home buying season slows, it’s in a seller’s best interest to heed the advice of their agent and get their home in tip-top shape. And nothing—nothing!—is a more hated design choice than weird, wacky wallpaper.
What Sellers Need to Know:Universal truth: Homebuyers hate wallpaper. And if that wallpaper is outdated, brightly colored, or themed, it can be hard for an otherwise serious buyer to look past it. Replace wallpaper with a neutral paint to create a fresh, new canvas that buyers will be eager to make their own.
Featuring unseasonal photos can make a listing seem outdated and turn a hot buyer prospect cold.
What Sellers Need to Know: A listing should always feel fresh and new. Photos that feel like they were taken months ago may make buyers think that the home has been lingering on the market—making them question whether the seller may be desperate and prompting a lowball offer. Yikes!
More than one buyer has pulled up to a house whose listing they liked, taken one look at the exterior, and driven away. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous a home is on the inside; if buyers aren’t willing to step in the door, then you’ve lost them. And it’s just as important to have an amazing exterior when it comes to the cooler months as it is during the sizzling summer. When it comes to leaves and snow, keep walkways clean and get a snazzy place to stash umbrellas and muddy shoes.
What Sellers Need to Know: A few simple fixes can take the curb appeal from lackluster to irresistible. Weed and mulch the flowerbeds, trim the hedges, clear the walkways, and repaint any flaking siding. Consider adding some “homey” touches like a wreath on the door or a bench on the porch. There’s no need to spend a ton on landscaping; just making the outside look presentable and welcoming can make all the difference.
Buyers already have lots to do before making the largest purchase of their lives. With all of this already on their plates, the prospect of trying to negotiate down a crazily high asking price is just too much work and too outside their comfort zones for most buyers to deal with. The average buyer won’t even bother looking at a property if the asking price is clearly high and off-base compared with other similar, nearby homes for sale.
What Sellers Need to Know:The only opinion when it comes to price is the market’s opinion. A home should be priced so buyers feel like they’ll get a good value, not so they’ll sit on the sidelines waiting for a price reduction. You never want a buyer to think, “Great place, but way overpriced. They must not be serious about selling, so let’s move on.”
Fall and winter house hunters have the unique, um, advantage of being able to see the roof, drainage systems, slopes and basements of a property performing under the precise weather conditions—rain, snow, wind and sleet—that often cause unpleasant surprises to spring and summer home buyers. Homes that display signs of big, troublesome maintenance to come (think: gutters overflowing with debris, walkways littered with slippery leaves, or a driveway covered in snow) may signal warning signs to potential buyers who won’t want to purchase a home that will end up in loads of weekend chores.
What Sellers Need to Know:Fall is the perfect time to show off the cozy, homey feel of the property. But it’s also the time when the realities of homeownership are the most apparent. This is the time to keep up with your seasonal maintenance! Sellers should also be aware of keeping the home comfortable for the weather. When the weather cools, homes should be warm, but not stuffy. It may make a big difference!