A real estate agent’s job entails more than assisting clients with the nitty-gritty details of buying or selling a home. Good agents also tour as many homes as possible. Knowing the local inventory gives them an edge over the competition and provides great value for future buyers and sellers because those agents know the market — their product.
Having toured hundreds of homes through the years, agents have come to loathe certain sights. They sometimes leave houses wondering whether the seller even knew a showing was scheduled for that day.
Here are five huge turnoffs agents and their buyer clients see when touring homes and how to avoid them:
Pets and their stuff
Pets bring so many great things to a family and home. But no potential buyer wants to see a dirty cat litter box next to the breakfast table or Fido’s bitten, saliva-filled bone on the sofa in living room.
When your home is for sale, nobody needs to know that a pet lives there. Potential buyers who are allergic to dogs or cats will be turned off immediately, and the mere presence of a pet will send some buyers right out the front door. Have a plan in place to keep the pet remnants at bay, the home tidy and your pet’s stuff out of sight. It may seem like a burden, but if you are serious about selling, this is of utmost importance.
Toys and baby supplies
Selling your home when you have children — especially a newborn — can be trying and stressful. For the most part, buyers can appreciate that keeping the home tidy under such circumstances is a challenge, and they are forgiving. But it is important to make an effort before showing the home.
If possible, have a toy chest or large closet dedicated to storing your kids’ stuff. Also keep in mind that buyers have a hard time with the more sanitary or personal items associated with infants. Leaving breast milk, a breast pump or dirty baby bottles on the kitchen counter could make a buyer feel that the home isn’t clean or sanitary. If you have a newborn, put a plan in place and allow 20 minutes to store baby items before a showing.
Cluttered counters and dirty dishes
Kitchens and bathrooms help sell a home. Most people spend the majority of their time in the kitchen, and buyers will want to spend some time in yours.
If the counters are crowded with the blender, coffee maker, toaster oven and other items, it will appear that there is little counter space, or worse, that your kitchen lacks cabinet space. And last night’s meatloaf caked onto plates sitting in the sink is sure to turn buyers off. Clear the countertops and put away the dishes before leaving home for a showing.
Personal items and toiletries
Don’t stop with the kitchen; the same holds true for bathroom countertops as well.
Clean the toothpaste off the sink and put away your prescriptions, open body lotion containers, toothbrushes and dirty towels. Buyers want to feel clean in the bathroom, and although it’s clear that they won’t be the first to use this bathroom, they don’t need to be reminded that they will be taking over a “used” bathroom.
Toilet and toilet seat
Imagine a serious buyer touring your home. They’ve fallen in love with the chef’s kitchen and are already planning where they would put the television and how their sectional couch would fit in the living room. Then, they stumble upon your bathroom to find the toilet seat up and not clean.
The last thing anyone wants to see is a dirty toilet, so make sure the toilet seat is down at all times. Will buyers be scared off otherwise and not move ahead with an offer? Probably not. But you want them to fall in love with your home, not be turned off.
Getting the buyer in the house can be the most important thing of all.
First the ease of making an appointment. When the seller works odd hours and must sleep during the day, buyers and buyers agents will wonder whether the seller is really interested, as it takes longer to set appointments, and the buyers schedule is at the mercy of the seller. Having a sick person in the home is a turnoff to a buyer.
The lock box must be mounted in an obvious location to make entry for the buyer and agent as smooth as possible.
Seller must accept that people will be in the house. It is not a good idea for the seller or children to be present in the house as the buyer is going through.
Having a locked door to a room or closet to keep it from being accessable is not a good idea. It is often necessary to either rent storage space or make arrangements with relatives while the house is on the market.
Neighbors that park in front of your house and limit parking and access can be a prolem. Neighbors that are unkept. The buyer will want to feel that the neighbors also have pride in the neighborhood and will help keep the resale value of the properties as high as practical.
Most home sellers won’t make these mistakes, but for the 20 percent who do, these six turnoffs could mean the difference between a full-price or lowball offer — or worse — an offer on a competing property.
Maybe you're moving to a larger home to accommodate a growing family, relocating for a new career opportunity, or purchasing a townhouse for retirement. Whatever the reason for the move, you'll need to take the necessary steps to sell your home for the best possible price, within a reasonable amount of time. Where do you begin?
If you're like most people, you'll start by seeking assistance from a professional. A local real estate sales associate, who knows your neighborhood, can help you determine a fair market price. The sales associate should also recommend the extent to which you should make repairs or improvements to your house.
In order to select a real estate professional who's right for you, ask family, friends and neighbors for referrals. Attend open houses and interview several sales associates to find out how professional or experienced they may be. Get a written outline of how they plan to market your property and the services they will offer you.
Once you've identified a qualified professional, the rest is chemistry. Is the sales associate someone with whom you would like to work closely? Do you feel comfortable with the sales associate as your partner, working with you to give you advice and acting as your representative? Does he or she practice a consultative selling approach, focusing on the long-term client relationship and on the importance of exceeding client needs and expectations or is he or she caught up in the proverbial 'hard sell?'
The brokerage firm that your agent is associated with is also important. Research the firm's success rate and commitment to quality service. Does it survey existing clients in order to ensure customer satisfaction? What are the results of those surveys? How in tune are they with consumer needs? Do they offer guidance with mortgages or any discounts for other home related or moving services?
Determining your home's fair market value is one of the most important decisions you'll make during the home-selling/buying process. Your sales associate can help you set a fair price based on local market conditions. For instance, she or he will provide sale prices and other statistics of homes similar to yours that have recently been sold. Prospective buyers will be comparing your home to others on the market. Therefore, setting a comprehensive price can determine if your property will or will not sell.
For the first offer made, it's rare that the prospective buyer matches the asking price. If the offer is reasonably close to the asking price, carefully consider the offer before you consider turning it down. Curiously, it's the first offer that can often be the best offer. If the first offer is unacceptable to you, it may in your best interest to have your sales associate respond with a counter offer. Whenever considering an offer, ask yourself if you would purchase the property for the amount being offered. Always be willing to negotiate, especially if the prospective buyer is pre-qualified for a mortgage.
Once you decide what terms are acceptable, let your sales associate negotiate with the prospective buyer to work out the best agreement for you. You'll need to be patient while the buyer arranges financing and as the real estate company compiles and prepares pertinent data.
Careful planning and sound advice from a real estate professional can make selling your home a very satisfying experience.