Nine ways sellers can avoid turning off buyers

(flickr photo by raider3_anime)

You can count on sellers having a fixation on listing price when it comes to putting their home on the market.

But there is a host of other issues that should concern them just as much and that some sellers overlook.  If they do, buyers will turn away in droves.  And those who make an offer likely will peg the property’s value too low.

Here are some of the things that sellers may not heed enough, proving that putting a home on the market is bound to be an ordeal:

  • Cleanliness.  It’s not enough to pick up toys and make your home broom clean.  Windows must sparkle, floors should shine, stoves must be spic and span, grout cannot be grimy, pet hair has to be removed — you get the picture;
  • Neatness. Yes, it counts.  If your pots and pans are orderly, dishware is scattered inside cabinets helter-skelter, newspapers lay in random stacks, a desk is piled high with paperwork, bedding is rumpled, towels are stained, moving boxes are strewn willy-nilly or refrigerator contents are jumbled, prospective buyers get a message you don’t want them to receive;
  • Clutter.  No broker will fail to advise against this scourge, but many sellers demonstrate that one person’s clutter is not necessarily another’s treasure.  Less is more, permitting buyers to appreciate the size of your home and imagine how they’re stuff will fit into it.
  • Closets.  Tempting though it may be to cram the clutter into them, it is wise to ensure that everything inside not only has plenty of space but is well organized;
  • Condition.  Even if you have managed to avoid fixing what should have been fixed, painting walls that need a fresh coat or otherwise showing that you have faithfully maintained your home, now is the time to take care of those needs;
  • Odors.  Not only do most sellers appreciate that pet odors present a problem along with lingering smells of smoking, but some cooking orders may offend some buyers, though the effects of foods baked with cinnamon or chocolate are widely considered to be positive and many buyers are tuned into the tactic.  Even the fragrance of candles and, hmmm, incense may be counterproductive, especially for buyers with sensitive noses or allergies.  They might wonder what you are trying to cover up;
  • Inaccessibility.  Of course, sleeping babies or ill occupants can make a room off limits, but closed doors present obstacles not only to seeing the space but to the possibility of an offer.  Worse, too much restriction as to when open houses may be held or appointments scheduled has prospective buyers moving on, not moving in;
  • Occupancy.  Just get out.  Nothing makes buyers more reluctant to explore than the presence of the owner.  And nothing more annoys buyers than sellers who trail them and regale them with running commentary of (usually imagined) features, improvements and happy days;
  • Personality.  Having your home on the market is not the ideal time to show off your original Mapplethorpe, a shrine to the recently departed, your collection of vintage Hustler magazines or, even in a medicine cabinet, a selection of antidepressants.

Everything about your home provides information to prospective buyers.  If you are messy, disorganized or insensitive to maintenance requirements, they tend to perceive deeper problems than the obvious ones about the place that they are contemplating as their new home.

Although putting your home on the market clearly means taking on a huge burden, my list — which is hardly complete — is meant to help you maximize the return on your energy and expenditures.

At the same time, I want to acknowledge that some things cannot be corrected.  If a layout is strange or awkward, maintenance has zoomed up, the dog next door yaps mercilessly, the building’s finances are questionable or the elevator is sluggish, there’s not much you can do.

However, if lobby personnel are habitually grumpy, perhaps you can think of ways — cookies, croissants or something green — to extract winning welcomes when necessary.

Sellers who have been or will be successful are those who take into account every detail in their home.  Sometimes, that’s not so easy, and that’s why it is essential for sellers to 1. Pay attention to their brokers’ advice, and 2. Think like a buyer.

Otherwise, they will pay literally a heavy price for their neglect in terms of how long their home will languish and how much dough it will command.

Tomorrow: Open house follies

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you can search privately for your new home here.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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