Top 10 Ways to Turn Off a Homebuyer

Summer is one of the busiest seasons for home sales. But in today’s economy, if your home is on the market, it’s essential to make it as appealing as possible to ensure a sale.

Bankrate.com assembled a coast-to-coast SWAT team to help sellers move their properties: 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.” Together, they identified 10 buyer turnoffs that sellers should avoid at all costs. Here’s the list.

1. Dirt. Hands down, the 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. Sellers should go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets.

2. Odors. Buyers, it’s said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting. Pet smells and kitchen odors are a deal breaker.

3. Old fixtures. Dated fixtures should be replaced. This includes cabinet hardware, doorknobs, light fixtures and ceiling fans.

4. Wallpaper. Wallpaper is extremely personal and today’s buyers want none of it. Wallpaper is a pain to remove and simply adds another chore to a buyer’s to-do list, Dana says.

5. Popcorn acoustic ceilings. Few things look more dated than acoustic popcorn ceilings. It you don’t want the cost or mess of removing it, plan on providing a credit to the buyer in many markets to close the sale.

6. Too many personal items. Sellers should try to eliminate personal items, including family photos, personal effects and even unique colors.  “Anything that makes your house scream ‘you’ is what you don’t want,” Dana says. “I tell all my clients that how we decorate to live and how we decorate to sell are different, and right now, we’re decorating to sell.”

7. Snoopy sellers. Being greeted at the door by the seller is a turnoff for realtors and buyers alike.

8. Misrepresenting your home. It’s natural to paint the best picture possible of your home, but don’t go overboard by misrepresenting the property. One of Cannon’s buyers loved a home she saw online. When he drove by to take a look, he was surprised to find acres of ramshackle mobile homes across the street.

9. Poor curb appeal. Like you, your home never gets a second chance to make a first impression. Curb appeal is your home’s handshake and it must be good.

10. Clutter. When it comes to clutter, less is more. Closets, kitchens and bookshelves should look spacious. Clean them out and display few items. “Dana’s tip for toddler parents is to pack away extraneous “kiddie litter” and keep a laundry basket handy.”When you get that phone call one hour before a showing, toss everything in that basket and take it to the car with you and your kids, and you’re all set,” she says.

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