Client: ‘Sorry, the _________ is a deal killer.’
Agent: ‘Yep, we could tell.’
As agents, we have all seen it before; a client walks into the front door of a home and simply refuses to engage. You can see it in their body language — there is no way your client is buying the home. And even more frustrating, you know that the home suits their needs well and it deserves serious consideration.
Do you what else? There is absolutely nothing that you can say or do to change their minds.
Something about the way the home was presented killed the deal.
What is a Deal Killer?
Now when I say ‘killing deals,’ what I am really saying is a home will have to be discounted well below its market value to sell it. If the correct buyer walks through your home and does not buy it because of a fixable issue, then you have cost yourself money unnecessarily.
The math is simple — if the discount you have to take to get the home sold is greater than the cost to cure the issue, then fix the issue — otherwise you are engaging in a deal killing activity. Don’t do it.
Remember, buyers don’t really want to do work harder than they have to and they generally have difficulty imagining anything other than what is readily apparent. If you, as a seller, feel that the people who are walking through your house will see its potential or that they will look beyond the flaws, you will end up selling for less than you should.
Here are some of the most common errors that sellers make:
I am not saying you have to bake cookies before every showing, but please, spend as much time on the olfactory as you do on the visual.
Smells such as wet dog, litter box, pile of shoes, damp basement and chain smoker are the most common offenders — but the unidentified ‘what-the-heck-is-that-smell’ which hits you the minute you walk in can kill a deal as quick as anything.
People cannot get over any strange odor and no matter what you say as an agent, will assume that the smell that greets them in the foyer will never go away … it is impossible to convince anyone otherwise.
If you think you have a smell, call your mother (she can smell anything,) neighbor or best (or worst) friend and ask them to come over and take a big deep whiff. Get their opinion as other people will smell things you don’t. If they mention anything at all, figure out what it is and get rid of it.
And for goodness sake, don’t cook pungent foods an hour before a showing. Show me a stinky home and I will show you one that trades as a disproportionate discount to where it should.
When someone is looking at your home, they don’t want to be there with your pets … sorry.
I know Fido is a big ball of love and just wants to say hello, but please, get him out of the home. And by out of the home, I don’t mean in a crate, in the guest bedroom, in the garage, in the back yard or behind a baby gate … I mean out of the home. As long as the pet is there, your potential buyers are unable to fully explore the property.
Listen, no one wants to see any animal in a crate and at the same time, no one wants to be licked, followed, sniffed or otherwise engaged by your pet when they are trying to look at your home. One, it is a distraction and two, it can also be a liability. You think you know your pet but in reality, pets don’t always react to strangers the way you think they will. Please make the necessary arrangements.
And worst of all, no agent wants to notice the ‘Please Don’t Let the Cat Out’ sign just as a streak of orange fur goes flying by your leg as you walk in the front door …
The Dirty ‘____’
The aforementioned smells go hand-in-hand with the (lack of) cleanliness discussion and ‘we will have it spotless by closing,’ is not an acceptable strategy.
Dirty carpet, crusty vents, dusty corners, smudgy windows, a messy garage, disorganized closets, a jam packed shed … all are giving the buyer clues that the maintenance history of the home has been less than stellar.
- If your carpet is 10+ years old and stained, just go ahead replace it. No amount of shampooing will work.
- If your garage is filled with decades of stuff, hire a dude with a pickup truck to clean it out and take the junk away.
- If you actually change your air filters, then make sure to clean the return grates as well.
- If your baseboard trim has an inch of dusty funk on it, wash it and touch up the paint.
- If your hand railings are the color of your car’s tire, get out the Murphy’s Oil Soap and go to work.
- If you cannot walk into your attic, get a ‘Pod’ and clean the attic out.
- If you have to lean on the closet door to close it, then you might need to spend a little time cleaning that out, too.
And after you think you have cleaned everything in your home as well as humanly possible, hire cleaning crew to come in behind you and REALLY clean it. It is a great investment and will pay you back in spades.
In 1997, my wife bought up a fixer-upper that had not been updated since 1958. We (naively) took on the chore of removing the wallpaper that covered probably 70% of the home. It is safe to say that I will N-E-V-E-R do that again.
The people who installed the wallpaper must have used a military grade adhesive that DuPont created in their secret underground test lab … nothing we tried would break the bond. It took us several weeks (not days) to get it all down and we did so much damage to the underlying sheet rock, we would have been better off to just rip the walls down on Day 1. Oh well, lesson learned.
So when I look in MLS and see homes covered in 1980’s wall paper, I get a nervous tic and immediately scroll to the next home. And while not everyone feels the same way, most do, and will avoid any home with more than one room of wallpaper.
You know your home is being shown at 2 p.m. so go ahead and get out before they get there.
Don’t wait for them to get there.
Don’t try to show.
Don’t try to help.
Don’t cut the grass while they’re there.
Don’t walk over to the neighbor’s house and hang out.
Don’t sit outside on your porch and read a book.
Don’t be there.
Don’t drive by and check on the showing.
Don’t be there when they leave and ask them what they thought.
Get out, get away and disappear.
I don’t care that you wrote the Sales Training Manual for IBM and taught Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins and Mark McCormack everything they know, you are not the correct person to sell your own home. Get far away from your house when it is being shown. Your presence, or even your perceived presence, is preventing the buyer from feeling comfortable and costing you money.
People aren’t buying a house, they are buying a home. They are not buying a thing, they are buying a feeling. If you are there (or even if they buyer feels like you are,) then the home is still your home and the buyer will not feel as if it can ever be their home.
Which leads to …
Please, please, please, please de-personalize your home. Do not make it sterile and austere, but don’t make it so ‘you’ that it can never be ‘them.’
Too many photos, too many personal effects, controversial art, political statements, shrines to loved ones past and present and/or anything that draws attention away from, in lieu of complimenting, the home — should be minimized, if not removed. You never know who is coming to view your home and you have no idea of their political affiliations, religious preferences, personal beliefs, lifestyle choices or if their children are going to be viewing the home as well.
True Story – I once was previewing homes and had my 7 year old daughter with me (yes, it is what Realtors do with their kids.) The tour was going well until we walked into the living room only to find two full-sized anatomically correct ‘sculptures’ facing one another. While I can laugh about it now, at the time, it was not nearly as funny.
I agree that art is meant to spur thought and start conversation … just not while your home is on the market. You would be amazed at some of the suggestive (ok, pornographic) pieces of art or extremely revealing photographs and/or portraits I have seen while showing homes. And yes, I know you are proud of your ‘________ Party’ membership, but your buyer is a card carrying member of the other party and is now angrily talking about the presidential race and no longer paying any attention to your home …
Again, people are trying to feel themselves in the home and the more difficult you make it, the less likely a buyer is to feel the way you want them to feel in your home.
Hard to Show
If you are going to put your home on the market, be prepared to show it a moment’s notice and be able to respond to a showing request promptly. And don’t get annoyed when buyer’s don’t give you enough notice. Everyone is busy and just trying to get through the day … don’t fault them for not giving you 48 hours notice.
When your listing agent gets a request to show, don’t take 3 hours to call or text them back and then ask if the buyers can come through in the afternoon instead of the morning. When an agent is trying to set up the showing on your home, it is at the buyer’s request for that particular time window and odds are, your home is part of a 3 – 4 home tour schedule that is geographically sequenced. Try to move the time and the buyer’s agent will say something like ‘we will get it next time.’ And you know what, there rarely is a next time.
Listen, sometimes you have a sick kid and sometimes you have guests in town, but even then, do your best to accommodate. I know that having your home on the market is a pain, but the pain of keeping your home in show ready condition for months is a far bigger pain than pricing it correctly, allowing appropriate access and selling it quickly … especially if you have kid’s practice schedules to keep up with and dogs that need to be removed from the home every time it is shown.
If you are going to sell your home, make it easy to show.
I get it — selling your home is disruptive — so don’t prolong the agony. Do what you need to do to get it sold and get it sold quickly.
If you are going to go through the effort to put your home on the market and live through the interruptions and annoyances that accompany the process, then don’t make unnecessary mistakes that not only drive up the marketing time but drive down the price. Consult your agent and treat all of their advice with objective detachment. The suggestions made are in an effort to increase your bottom line and decrease the effort required to get it sold.