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Homebuyers see all sorts of potentially offensive things in sellers’ homes. The list includes everything from dirty underwear, feces-flinging pets, animal-head trophies and drug paraphernalia to swastikas, Confederate flags and shrines to rival sports teams.
Some sellers don’t realize that prospective homebuyers might be offended by what’s in their homes. Other don’t care. They’re determined to make a statement, even if it’s against their realty broker’s advice and could hurt their ability to sell their home.
Should buyers speak up when they see something they find offensive?
See something, say something
“Definitely, yes,” says Wendy English, sales manager for Century 21 Commonwealth in Medfield, Massachusetts. “If they’re with their buyer’s agent, the best thing they can do is give really good honest feedback.”
After that, buyers need to weigh whether they’re offended by the home itself or just its owners. A perception of neglect can lower a home’s value.
“If you’re not taking care of your pets and laundry, are you taking care of your house?” English says. “Probably not.”
Ignore the things that will go
Still, buyers need to understand that the resale housing market is not HGTV and not all homes will meet their personal standard of cleanliness or be furnished to their taste, says Maura Neill, a Realtor for RE/MAX Around Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“The seller’s decor and, unfortunately, even their private beliefs that they may reveal to you should not be a concern because those things don’t stay with the house,” Neill says.
Attend to things that will remain
Instead, buyers should try to focus on aspects of the home that they can’t remove or change after the sale closes. Typically, these factors include the home’s lot, floor plan, school district, location and neighborhood amenities.
Some buyers simply can’t or don’t want to overlook something they find offensive. In that case, it’s best to leave the home and, again, be direct with the agent about why.
“When that listing agent emails me, that will be the first thing on my mind,” Neill says. “We walked into the home and we saw this. I’m sorry, my buyer couldn’t get past it.”