January 15, 2008

on the market: top five ways to guarantee buyers hate your home!

Hot on the heels of my earlier post about finding hidden square footage- let's talk about what happens if you've already maximized your home's square footage and now you've decided it's just not workin' for 'ya. It's time to move on! If you own your home, this means it will be time to get the house ready to view and out on the real estate market.

(by bcostin)
photo by bcostin (bryan costin) on Flickr

Well, it might not be that easy...

When I was 15, we moved from a tee-tiny town in Western Kentucky to the city of Memphis, TN. I was totally devastated. Here I was in the middle of my sophomore year in high school surrounded by the friends I had all my life- and now I was being abruptly uprooted to this (seemingly) HUGE city where I knew no one.

I was in total denial about this actually happening. Operating in complete defiance of this "show of power" from my parents, I wouldn't pack a single thing in preparation of the move. I would not go. They couldn't make me go!! (Oh... yes they could.)

I basically set out to sabotage the move. I carved my name into the wood sills and sashes of my windows, thinking that was my "claim" on the house. (Please keep in mind, I was a 15 year old in complete turmoil, okay? That's a pretty potent recipe for psycho behavior.) I also tried to make my room as messy as possible when the house was being shown by the Realtor. I tried it all, people. My butt still got shipped out with the family to Memphis. (Of course, this ended up being a really great thing in the "big picture"!)

My little story is a demonstration of deliberate sabotage on the real estate process. However, there are many more subtle (and effective!) ways to sabotage the sale of a home that you might not even be aware of- so let's review the list of things that could keep your house on the market forever...

Top five ways to guarantee a buyer HATES your home:
(Warning: Keep this article away from anyone wishing to interrupt your moving plans!)

1. Make sure to have your dog wandering the property outside or roaming free inside the home. Even better- make that a large JUMPING dog! Hey, I absolutely ADORE pets- (I've got six!)but no one knows what your potential homebuyer will feel about Fido or Fluffy. Many people are scared of pets, so make sure you crate your animals when your house is being shown, or even better- take them off the property. Besides, it's stressful for your pets to have strange people cruising through "their" home, too... they would rather be with you, anyway!

2. Wallpaper- anywhere, any style. Wallpaper is the "meatloaf" of design... the chances that a buyer is going to like the kind you like is slim to none. Wall coverings are commitments, also...like a marriage. They are very tailored to the individual and very difficult to remove without spending time and money (think: divorce). Remove the wallpaper now to ensure a buyer tomorrow! (By the way, Holly over at Decor8 has a great wallpaper discussion going on today!)

3. Use lots of air/carpet scents to create that luxurious smell of Poison perfume mixed with wet dog! Okay, so I'm being extreme here... but really- if the house smells perfume-y, then you MUST be hiding something. That's what the buyer will think, anyway. The only thing worse than pet odors, cigarette odors, or mildew odors is perfume mixed with any of the above. Remove any bad smell by removing the source. If you have carpet- clean it or replace it. Ditto for rugs, drapes, and large upholstered items.

4. Stuff your closets and cabinets with tons of crap. Most people know that decluttering is a must... but this doesn't mean that the excess needs to be crammed into your storage areas! If you cut a corner on decluttering, then the buyer will wonder what other corners you cut or what other "smoke and mirrors" tricks you have in store. A good rule for closets is to make sure that the floors and top shelves are empty. For cabinets, remove approximately 50% of what is there usually. For the rest: rent a storage unit and totally remove the clutter from the property. Remember: Clutter Kills Equity!

5. Leave minor repairs to be "negotiated" in the deal. Many people see this as an option when selling, but it can be the kiss of death for the sale. Minor repairs become overwhelming to a buyer. A typical buyer will already have a list of things that he/she will want to change in ANY home they are purchasing, such as paint colors, flooring, hardware, etc... When your list of "minor repairs" is added to the buyer's personal list of changes, the buyer ends up with a whopper of a "honey do". And that "honey do" will become "Honey, let's don't." And this means no sale for you!

Most of these real estate deal-killers are easily remedied, but there are many more that might require attention. I'll share more real estate dilemmas and solutions in the future, so you can make sure you can bust a move when you're good and ready and not be waiting impatiently on your home to sell... After all, when it's time to go, it's time to GO! :)

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