real estate

10 ways to turn off a homebuyer

What a difference a couple of years makes.

Back in 2007, homebuyers would beg to purchase your house. They would even bid more than the asking price for the privilege to do so.

Today ... well, not so much. Once the real estate bubble burst and foreclosures poisoned the housing pool, buyers suddenly regained the upper hand. But instead of buying, they're waiting, convinced that housing prices will continue to drop.

10 home sales killers
  1. Dirt
  2. Odors
  3. Old fixtures
  4. Wallpaper
  5. Popcorn acoustic ceilings
  6. Too many personal items
  7. Snoopy sellers
  8. Misrepresenting your home
  9. Poor curb appeal
  10. Clutter

What's a smart seller to do in this environment?

We assembled a coast-to-coast SWAT team to address the crisis: Chad Goldwasser of Goldwasser Real Estate in Austin, Texas; Terry Cannon, a buyer's agent and broker with Oregon Exclusive Buyers Realty in Salem, Ore.; and Julie Dana, the New York-based "home stylist" and co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell."

They suggest 10 buyer turnoffs that sellers should avoid at all costs.

"If you do all the staging correctly and have a good agent, the house will hopefully only be on the market a few weeks," Dana says. "Then you can go back to living your life."

1. Dirt

Hands down, our panel agrees: Nothing turns off a buyer quicker than a dirty house.

"The No. 1 biggest mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition. That's huge," says Goldwasser. "I won't even represent sellers at this point unless they are fully aware of how important it is to get their home in the absolute best condition that they've ever had it in."

Goldwasser recommends that sellers go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets.

"If the carpets are old and smelly, you should put in new," he says. "If they're relatively new, you should at least have them shampooed."

Cannon agrees that grime can derail any showing.

"The home should be neat and clean and free of all debris," Cannon says. "If it reeks of cats or the kitchen sinks and counters are so filthy that it almost looks like the food is moving, I won't even want to come in."

2. Odors

Buyers, it's said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting.

"Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors," says Dana. "I advise my clients not to cook fried food, fish or greasy food while the house is on the market."

Some pet owners mistakenly believe pet smells to which they've become accustomed help make their abode homey. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"If you're a dog person, you tend to think everyone else is a dog person," says Goldwasser. "But the truth is, 50 percent of the population hates dogs and doesn't want to be near them. "Pets in the home? You have to deal with that."

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