1. CLEANESS: Nothing turns off a buyer quicker than a dirty house.
A big mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition.
Sellers should go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets.
If the carpets are old and smelly, you should put in new. If they're relatively new, you should at least have them shampooed.
The home should be neat and clean and free of all debris. If it smells like animals or the kitchen sinks and counters are filthy, buyers hesitate even to look around.
Buyers, it's said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting.
Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors. I advise my clients not to cook fried food, fish or greasy food while the house is on the market.
Some pet owners mistakenly believe pet smells are okay, to which they've become accustomed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sellers should eliminate all traces of pets, not just pet odors. It's important to get rid of pet items and have a pet plan to make sure the animals are not around when the house is shown.
The same rules hold true for smokers: Remove all ashtrays, clean all curtains and upholstery, and consider smoking outdoors while your home is on the mark.
3. Old fixtures
Want buyers to roll their eyes? Leave old fixtures on your doors and cabinets.
You need to change out old fixtures in your house. New cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, but it makes a huge difference.
The same holds true for dated ceiling fans, light fixtures and kitchen appliances.
Homes that have old fans, lights, ovens, microwaves, ranges and dishwashers can really turn a buyer off. Sellers will say, 'Oh, the buyers can take care of that.' Well, yes they can, but it's going to impede you from getting the highest price possible for your home, or selling in a timely fashion.
Wallpaper is a definite no-no.
Wallpaper is a pain to remove and simply adds another chore to a buyer's to-do list.
5. Poor curb appeal
Much is made of curb appeal, and for good reason: It's your home's handshake, the critical first impression that lasts with most buyers.
You have to totally trim and edge your yard to get it into the most immaculate condition you can. It's a big mistake to not freshly mulch the beds and trim the trees. Every little detail counts.
Power-wash the exterior and don't leave mud dauber and wasp and bird's nests in your eaves and above your doors.
Whether inside or out, less is more when it comes to clutter.
Start in the closets. Your closets should be half-full with nothing on the floor. Most people looking for a house have outgrown their previous house. Showing them that you've still got room to grow gives them a reason to buy.
Kitchens and built-in bookshelves should showcase spaciousness by following the rule of three. For kitchens, there should be no more than three countertop appliances. Meanwhile, bookshelves should be divided into thirds: one-third books, one-third vases and pictures, and one-third empty.
The home office should be very generic so any type of professional can imagine living there.
A 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.
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