When it comes to presenting a home to buyers, some sellers aren’t sure what to do (and not do). Here are the most common offenses that turn off buyers and reduce the chance of the buyers making an offer. The list is comprised from submissions by real estate agents nationwide when asked what are the biggest turnoffs to buyers for showings.
1. Leftover home owners
By far, one of the top offenses cited by buyer’s agents was home owners still lingering around when agents arrived with clients to preview the home. Awkward encounters ranged from buyers finding sellers taking a shower, asleep in the bed, to even the “stalker sellers” who liked to follow buyers and the agent all over the home to see what they thought.
With the exception of the “stalker seller,” many of the home owners who were still at home blamed their listing agent for not giving them enough advance notice about the appointment prior.
2. Pets and their messes
Numerous agents also cited the not-so-friendly dog and kitty encounters as a top offense. Even pets left in a crate can pose a distraction since they might make noise the entire time others are in the house. Plus, if they seem mean, the buyer might not even step in the room.
3. Bad smells
A displeasing smell can really turn buyers off. Common offenses include cooking smells lingering around the home, such as garlic, fried bacon, or fish. Also, watch for cigarette smoke and animal smells.
Sellers get immune to the smell of their pets but anyone opening the door will smell it immediately — even if there are air fresheners trying to cover up the smell. If you have a pet, there will be an odor. Don’t send your buyers away: Paint and clean the carpeting. Take the odor seriously and do what is needed, even if it means replacing the carpet.
4. Critters running wild
Wild animals and pests roaming around is a surefire way to send buyers running. Agents described worms crawling on the floor and bats and raccoons lounging in the attic.
5. Odd home makeovers
Do-it-yourself disasters were also prevalent, like doors opening the wrong way or unprofessional paint jobs. Also, rooms not being used for their intended purposes can confuse buyers, such as an office being used as a bedroom even though it has no closet.
6. Dirt and clutter
There were a number of offenses cited when it came to cleanliness: Dirty laundry piles, unflushed toilets, dishes on the counter or in the sink, unmade beds, clothes scattered about, soiled carpets, dirty air conditioner filters, and overflowing trash cans.
7. Personal information left in plain sight
Sellers should be careful not to leave important documents that might pique a buyer’s curiosity in plain sight. Some agents say they’ve seen personal information like bank and credit card statements—even mortgage payoff notices—left on the kitchen counter.
8. Too dark
Dark or dimly lit houses aren’t showing the home in the best light.
Particularly [homes lit with] CFL bulbs. By the time [the bulbs] light up, the buyer is gone. Energy efficient bulbs need time to warm up before they are at their brightest, so staging professionals usually recommend traditional incandescent “Soft white” light bulbs.
9. Keys missing from lockboxes
All too often, agents arrive at a listing appointment with their client only to find there’s no key to get in.
10. Distracting & Personal Photos
Watch the photos displayed on the walls too. Buyers take what is called “Mental Possession” of a home when they see it. They begin imagining their “stuff” in the home. When they see your smiling mug in a photo, they snap out of it, and remember it’s not their house. You want them to stay in that “mention possession” mode and leave wanting to make that a reality!