Turning Off Buyers

Dated: 10/25/2017

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Staging your home before putting it on the market is not new advice from most real estate salespeople to their clients. Staging a home is a presale process that aims to lean on a home’s best features, presenting it in an optimal light to sell for the highest price, in the shortest amount of time. The basics of home staging would include decluttering, depersonalizing, a thorough cleaning, basic maintenance and repairs or potential remodels, and positioning furniture in such a way to turn a seller’s home into a marketable product. The goal would be to give the buyer the opportunity to picture themselves living in your house, so that they are compelled to buy it. So very often a seller will not yield to this advice, instead relying on how they think their home should look, or what they’ve grown to be comfortable with, rather than highlighting its positive features for a perspective buyer. Below, some things about your house that might be a direct turnoff to a would-be buyer.

  • Pets- While you may think that your dog Fido or your cat Fifi are the absolute cutest things ever, buyers may not share your enthusiasm. Even if you take your pet with you for showings (which you should absolutely do, by the way), they may be allergic to animals and start sneezing, or smell or see signs of your pets as soon as they enter the house. They may view pets in your home as red flags that the carpets need replacing, the back yard is torn up, or other such maintenance issues that may come with having pets, which would mean added costs to them should they decide to buy. Some sellers will opt to have their pets stay with friends or family during the time that the house is on the market. While that may not be an option for your family, do remove dishes, toys or other pet items for showings, and address the typical pet wear and tear on your home prior to listing.

  • Animal Head Wall Mounts- Real or fake, animal head wall mounts can be highly offensive to some people. While a deer head mount may be a prized trophy for one person, for another it’s as if Bambi is looking down on them while they are viewing the house. It can be a distracting element to a room, and may take away from what the buyer should be looking at: the size, layout, and other details of their would-be home.

  • Sports Memorabilia- Your favorite sports team might be “These Guys”, and a buyer may root for “Those Guys”. Depending on their passion, seeing any sort of propaganda for the “other” team may have them feeling less than enthusiastic about your house overall.

  • Flags/Slogans- Certain signs or slogans may also be a turn off. Some examples might be a Confederate flag, or signs with quotes on them, like “Faith, Hope, and Love”, or “Bless This House”. Instead of eliciting a potentially differing point of view from a buyer, best to pack these things away to be redisplayed at your new house.

  • Nude artwork/pictures/statues- For some buyers, nude pictures or statues can raise an eyebrow and make them feel uncomfortable. This may be from something as well-known as a replica of the Statue of David in the entry way, to baby pictures with bare bottoms in a new parent’s bedroom. You never know the buyer that will be looking at your house, so best to take down anything who’s subject matter has any sort of nudity.

  • Locked doors/rooms that can’t be entered- A buyer will want the ability to see every square inch of your house. Even if it’s as innocent as a cluttered closet that you’d rather not have them peek at, best to allow access and have them close the door when they realize what it is, rather than leave the showing not-knowing.

Once you decide to sell, your home is no longer “your home”, rather it’s a “house” that’s going to be sold to someone else. The best course of action is stage for the end-buyer in mind with neutral decor, and eliminate any potential turn-offs before going on the market.


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Melissa and Todd Rolland

Melissa Rolland is a real estate salesperson, accredited home stager and has been a real estate investor for over a decade, helping hundreds of homeowners buy houses, sell houses, and invest in real e....

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