The 5 Top Home Buyer Turn-Offs of 2018
Selling a home in today's market can be frustrating. So much advice out there! Especially on home-staging and property prep. Some of it seems impossible unless you already live in a la-di-da home—or have serious money to whip your place into shape.
But you do have more control than you may realize over how desirable your listing looks to potential buyers. One great way to know what turns a buyer on is to know what turns a buyer off. Here are 6 big-time turn-offs that make buyers cringe at the thought of purchasing your home.
1. Cluttered, dirty or "fragrant" houses
You already know this one. Every seller does. Yet, even in 2018, the era of Houzz and HGTV, buyers across America walk into homes that would make your mother cringe every single day. The people who come to see your home are making one of the biggest decisions they'll ever make. Cluttered countertops, neglected toilet seats and unattended litter boxes not only make viewers turn up their noses, they practically compel buyers to walk away.
De-clutter. But think of it as pre-packing
Luckily, you have all the control in the world over how your house looks to would-be buyers. First, de-clutter. Hugely. If that seems overwhelming, here's a happier way to think of it: It's not de-cluttering, it's pre-packing. You'll have to pack it all up anyway when you sell, so box up everything that is not part of your home's decor or furnishing or something you need for your daily functioning. Pack it all neatly away in the garage or a storage unit. Doing it in advance just makes it more likely the place will sell, stat!
Show your home only when it sparkles
Also, no matter how long it takes for your home to get an offer, do not show it unless it's completely and totally tidied up. Be sure:
- no laundry or dishes are piled up,
- countertops are freshly wiped down,
- mail and paperwork are put away,
- and smelly pets and litter boxes are cleaned and/or out of the house.
Get every family member on board—kids, cats, canines included—and create a morning or evening cleaning ritual. That way, you'll be ready for showings and you'll minimize the mad, pre-showing dashes.
Buying a house in today's market is already hard work. The last thing a buyer wants to do is argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing.
Buyers are overloaded with having to:
- be on top of all the research and analysis about the market,
- work overtime to separate the real estate wheat from the chaff,
- get educated about short sales and foreclosures,
- and often put in many, many offers before they get even a single one accepted.
When they see a seller who's clearly clueless about their home's value and has priced it sky-high, many won't even bother looking at the home. If they do love it, they'll wait for it to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will "educate you" into desperation, priming the pump for a later lowball offer.
Trust your Trillium agent's research on what your home's worth
Ultimately, you decide what to ask for your home. But you deprive yourself of the professional counsel and expertise—that you're paying for already—if you fail to listen to your agent's advice and insights on the right listing price. They will point you to other properties that have sold in your area with similar features and use that data to help you understand the right price range for your home.
Worried about setting the price too low? Get buyer's brokers' feedback with an advance broker's open house, and work with your agent on an advance plan for bringing the price down if you get no showings or buyer interest.
3. Deceptive listing descriptions or pictures
Here's the deal: You will never trick someone into buying your home. If listing pics are photo-edited within an inch of their lives, buyers will find out at some point. If your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant—because the house is under the train tracks and you live between a wrecking yard and a biker bar—buyers will inevitably figure this out.
And that misrepresentation alone is enough to turn otherwise interested buyers off.
In cases where the buyer feels misled, whether or not that was your intention, they can't help but wonder: If I can't trust you to be honest about this, how can I trust you to be honest about everything else?
Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest—so be both.
If your home has features that most buyers will see as negative, don't put them first in your home's listing description. But don't go out of your way to slant or skew or spin facts. That "spin" will become instantly obvious to anyone who visits your home. And in any event, your pricing should account for all of your home's features, pros and cons.
4. New, bad home improvements
Many a buyer has walked into a house that has clearly been remodeled or upgraded in anticipation of the sale, only to have their heart sink when they see a brand-spanking-new kitchen with a countertop made, not of Carerra marble, but pink tiles with a kitty cat on each one. Or the just-installed floors are carpeted in a creamy shade of blue—the buyer's least favorite color.
Home improvements that run counter to a buyer's aesthetics are a big turn-off. In today's era of frugality, buyers don't want to have to rip 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.
So before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel, check in with a local broker or agent, preferably from Trillium. 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 to do.
Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal. They may also help you select neutral finishes that will work for the largest range of buyer tastes—or they'll know an expert who can.
5. Bad photos or no photos at all
Some of the listing photos that make it online are shockingly bad. We've seen listing photos with dumpsters parked in front of the house, piles of laundry all over the "hardwood" floors touted in the listing description, and once, even the family dog doing its business in the lovely green front yard. Don't use them. Any listing pictures that put your home in anything but its best, accurate light will turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house!
The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pics are listings that have no photos at all. Most buyers today will click right past a listing with no pictures and click right on past it.
Before your home is on the market, ask your listing agent-to-be to see the online marketing for their current listings, to get a feel for how they operate. After your home is on the market, check top listing sites like Trulia and Zillow to be sure that your listing pics represent your home well. If not, ask your agent to grab some new shots and get them online.