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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

6 Things That Turn Home Buyers Off (and What Sellers Can Do To Prevent It)!

We've talked about surprising home features buyers LOVE, and about why buyers aren't biting on today's market, despite it being highly affordable.  But we haven't talked much about the characteristics of sellers, listings and homes that turn buyers all the way off.  Well, not until now!

Here are 6 big-time homebuyer turn-offs that make buyers cringe at the thought of your home, and action steps you can take to prevent your home from being an offender:

1.  Stalker-ish sellers.  I know you think you’re being helpful, walking the buyer through your home and pointing out the wagon-wheel light fixture you made with your own two hands, the custom mural of a stingray you paid top dollar to have painted across your living room wall and the way the sounds of happy schoolchildren running across the front yard of your corner lot to get to the school in the next block lifts your spirits.  However, the buyers might be trying really hard to ignore, minimize or figure out how to undo the very features of your home you hold dear.  They also may want or need to have personal space and conversations with their mate or their agent while they’re viewing your home - you being there, especially walking right alongside them while they’re in your home, prevents them from being comfortable about doing this, or discussing all the things they would change if the home were theirs. In my experience, the more nitpicky a buyer gets about a house and the more detailed their list of things they would change, the more serious they are about considering making an offer on this place.

What’s a Seller to do? Back off. Let your home be shown vacant, or leave the house when people come to see it.  If you need to be there, at least walk outside or go sit at the coffee shop down the way while prospective buyers view your home.  If the buyers have questions, their people will contact your people.

2. Shabby, dirty, crowded and/or smelly houses.  You already know this one. Yet, buyers constantly marvel. The buyers who come to see your home are making the decision whether to choose your home for the biggest purchase they’ve ever made during the worst economic conditions most of them have ever experienced.  Your job is to get your home noticed – favorably – above the sea of other homes on the market, many of which are priced very, very low. 

What’s a Seller to do?  Other than listing your home at a competitive price, the only tool within your control for differentiating your home from all the foreclosures and short sales is to show it in tip-top shape. Pre-pack your place up, getting rid of as many of your personal effects as possible. Do not show it without it being completely cleaned up: no laundry or dishes piled up, countertops freshly washed, smelly dogs (I have a couple who smell on occasion – no judgment – but don’t show your house with pet odors) or litter boxes cleaned and/or out of the house.

3.  Irrational seller expectations (i.e., overpricing).  Buying a house on today’s market is hard work!  On top of all the research and analysis about the market and situating their own lives to be sure they’ll be able to afford the place for 5, 7, 10 years - or longer, buyers have to work overtime to separate the real estate wheat from the chaff, get educated about short sales and foreclosures and often put in many, many offers before they get even a single one accepted.  The last thing they want to add to their task lists is trying to argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing.  And, in fact, there are so many other homes on the market, buyers don’t have to do this.  When they see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home’s value and has priced it sky-high, most often they won’t bother even looking at it.  If they love it, they’ll wait for it to sit on the market for awhile, hoping the market will “educate you” into desperation, priming the pump for a later, lowball offer.

What’s a Seller to do? Get real. Get out there and look at the other properties that are for sale in your area and price range. Get multiple agents’ take on what your home should be listed at, and don’t take it personally if their recommendation is low. If your home has much less curb appeal or space or is much less upgraded than the house across the way, don’t list it at the same price and expect it to sell. If you owe more than your home is realistically worth, you may need to reexamine whether you really want or need to sell, or consider a short sale, if you simply have to sell.  Don’t be tempted into testing your market with an obviously too-high price, unless you’re prepared to have your home lag on the market and get lowball offers.

4.  Feeling misled. Here’s the deal.  You will never trick someone into buying your home. If the listing pics are photo-edited within an inch of their lives, or your home is described as an “approved” short sale when, in fact, the bank approved another offer, now withdrawn, but will require a new offer to go through any sort of approval process (even a truncated one), buyers will learn this information at some point.  If your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant, as code for the fact that your house is under the train tracks and you live in between a wrecking yard and a biker bar, prospects will figure this out.  If the detailed information about your home, neighborhood or even transactional position (e.g., short sale status, seller financing, etc.) is misrepresented, the sheer misrepresentation will turn otherwise interested buyers off.  If you authorize your agent to “verbally approve” the buyer’s offer, don’t go back the next day demanding an extra $5,000. In cases where the buyer feels misled, whether or not that was your intention, running through the buyer’s mind is this question: If they can’t trust you to be honest about this, how can they trust you to be honest about everything else? 

What’s a Seller to do?  Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest – so be both.  If your home has features or aspects that are often perceived negatively, your home’s listing probably shouldn’t lead with them (like the ad I recently saw with the intro line: “this place is a mess!”), but neither should you go out of your way to slant or skew or spin the facts which will be obvious to anyone who visits your home.  Make sure you know what the listing of your home reads like, before it’s published to the web, and that a prospective buyer will not feel misled by it.

5. New, ugly home improvements.  Many a buyer has walked into a house that has clearly been remodeled and upgraded in anticipation of the sale, only to have their heart sink with the further realization that the brand-spanking-new kitchen features a countertop made, not of Carerra marble, but brand-new, pink tiles with a kitty cat in the middle of each one (I saw this once, people – no joke).  Or the pristine, just-installed floors feature carpet in a creamy shade of blue – the buyer’s least favorite color.  New home improvements that run totally counter to a buyer’s aesthetics are a big turn-off, because in today’s era of Conspicuous Frugality, buyers just can’t cotton to ripping out expensive, brand new, perfectly functioning things just on the basis of style – especially since they’ll feel like they paid for these things in the price of the home.

What’s a Seller to do?  Check in with a local broker or agent before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel.  They can give you a reality check about the likely return on your investment, and help you prioritize about which projects to do (or not).  Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal.  Many times, they will also help you do the work of selecting neutral finishes that will work for the largest possible range of buyer tastes.

6.  CRAZY listing photos (or no photos at all).  Here at Trulia, we’ve seen listing photos that have dumpsters parked in front of the house, piles of laundry all over the “hardwood” floors touted in the listing description, and once, even the family dog doing his or her business in the lovely green front yard.  Listing pictures that have put your home in anything but its best, accurate light are a very quick way to ensure that you turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house!   The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pics are listings that have no photos at all; most buyers on today’s market see a listing with no pictures and click right on past it, without giving the place a second glance.

What’s a Seller to do?  Check your home’s listing on Trulia and make sure that the pics represent your home well.  If not, ask your agent to grab some new shots and get them online (and say pretty please, pretty please!).

P.S. -  Buyers, get your roof inspection or new linens paid for!  Sellers, how'd you like to be able to hire a cleaning service for that pre-showing deep clean?

You still have (a little) time to enter to win a $250 gift card by answering this question on Facebook: What's your American Dream? (If you win - and this is exclusively for readers of the AskTara blog!, we'll let you choose any sort of gift card you want within the $250 limit).

P. P.S. - You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook, too!


By David Valley,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 04:29

Excellent post. I love it.

I've got additional information that will assist Home sellers in getting their home sold faster...

By Steve Morgan - (302) 541-5363,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 04:37
Great Post - I would suggest that Sellers could offer buyers some credits at settlement with the right mortgage professional helping agents to move inventory. Dropping the price works and so does dropping the rate which opens up to more qaulified borrowers. Simply apply the credit with your mortgage professional written in the contract.

Steve Morgan
Fairfax Mortgage Investments
By Allan Erps,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 04:44
Just the best info as usual, Tara! Thanks
By Wanda Bond,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 04:51
This is a great article. I'm going to use it as a hand-out for my sellers, credits to Tara, of course. Thansk for such a well thought-out and well-written post.
By Connie Packard,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 04:53
If the taxes on your house are out of line with taxes on neighboring properties (say $30K when the neighbors are paying $20K) -- it's glaringly obvious to the savvy buyer. Do the appeal yourself -- or risk having the buyer discount your house by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And PS ... if you think you are selling a knockdown or a building lot, the buyers are actually going to want to confirm that a new house is possible on that site. Guess what -- that might involve some pre-closing tests that will mess up the snow or lawn checking on septic suitablity.
By Jacques Guercy,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:02
thanks for the great articles.about sellers
By MDM REALTY Heidi Zizza,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:03
I cant stand photos with the toilet seat open. Common Sense people!!
By Jason Korn,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:03
Great article! This may even prove to be a good listing tool. Seems like some people need to hear this from another source to really believe it. Thanks for sharing!
By Patrick W Kibby,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:04
As always, on target, your comments are great and much better received by the client than sometimes when coming from "Their Agent"!!!
By Carole K.,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:11
Tara, enjoy your info. I am a disabled, senior citizen homebuyer and want to share a huge warning to prospective buyers. It appears that many folks are still not aware of FEMA's flood area rezoning across the U.S. I was one of those. When I contacted a realtor to begin my home search; and, very much aware that there are flood zones in my county, I was "up front" that I wanted nothing in a flood area. Upon finding a home I like I, again, asked if it was in a flood zone and my realtor made no mention. He referred to the seller's disclosure in which it was stated that seller was not aware of a flood zone. So, I proceeded to sign a contract in mid-January 2011. Upon meeting with my lender I again commented on my concern about flood zones and nothing was said. A month later I received a phone call from lender stating that the home is in a flood zone so I now have to purchase flood insurance. The mortgage payment goes up and up.

My hope is that this info will help other prospective buyers. I have learned that by going to http://www.FEMA.gov one can search flood map covering the U.S. By typing in the prospective home address it will reveal flood info on property. Also, there is information on the process by which one may appeal FEMA's decision.

Tara, was I wrong in thinking that it is the realtor's responsibility to find out if a home is in a flood zone when their client makes it very clear they don't want this?
By Paul Basile,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:16
thanks for some great insights!!!

By Francesca Patrizio,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:19
stalkers . . . .I have the hardet time getting sellers to understand this! Perhaps a copy of this post will help! Thanks Tara.
By Marian,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:24
I see the truth of what you've said here every day. Sellers need to understand that today's buyers expect more --because they can!

All your "action points" boil down to what you said: "(Sellers) Your job is to get your home noticed – favorably – above the sea of other homes on the market, many of which are priced very, very low."

Thanks for the excellent post.

Marian Lake-Walker, Owner
By MC2 Home Inspections,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:28
Excellent article. Let us not forget the benefits of a seller having a pre-list home inspection done prior to placing their home on the market! It saves a lot of grief and blood pressure medicine and helps to avoid those nasty little surprises that the buyers home inspector will find.
By Jackie Lewis,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:32
Great post! I have a very desirable timeless colonial coming on the market soon and the seller is a smoker. I am looking for the best product on the market to get rid of the smell. Even though she doesn't smoke in the house any longer, the lingering odor is there. Any ideas?
Thanks and take care,
Jackie Lewis RE/MAX Allegiance
By Jackie Lewis,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:34
Good post! I have a new listing - a very desirable colonial in Alexandria that will be coming on the market soon. The seller is a smoker. I have told her many time to stop smoking in the house. Even though she has, the odor still lingers. I am looking for the best product on the market to help get rid of this. Can anyone help.
By Davidm,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:34
Another great article Tara. And Carole K., thanks for the FEMA link.
By Ratay Realty Team,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:35
Great article Tara, thanks! We hire a professional stager on all our listings, to help "de-personalize", "de-clutter", and get the home looking it's very best. It's well worth our investment, and surprisingly, our clients prefer hearing this information from a 3rd party, rather than us, their agent/consultant.

Sending clients boxes is another great tool.

We also invest in a professional photographer, not just because they have better equipment for wider shots, but for the lighting. It enhances all of our marketing material, which is beneficial on multiple levels. I have shown our listings where buyers/agents have said, "oh, this is the house with those great photos". Again, well worth our investment.

By Timothy M. Garrity,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:45
Nothing frustrates me more than not including photos on a listing. In my opinion, there are 2 potential causes: 1) The agent is trying to hide something, or 2) The agent was too lazy to actually visit the property, take pictures, and download them.

That listing's traffic will be slashed without photos. Google Maps is only so reliable. Thanks for letting me vent.

By Michelle Tepper,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:48
Great Post Tara!
I think the down market is making agents better at their profession and I hope the improvement continues. Sellers do need to also make sure that they interview at least 3 agents before choosing one to represent them in the sale of their home. Many sellers simply choose the busiest agent in the neighborhood who will often take the listing at any cost while not educating the seller on realistic pricing, days on market timelines and the reality of the market. Thanks again for the excellent post!
By Jeanne M Gavish,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:49
Great information, Tara! Agents, please train your sellers to give the buyers and their agent some space! They will remember everything the seller said and not be able to make any comparisons or impressions of their own. Big distraction. I let the sellers do their tour and then ask the seller if we can go around once again without them to look for the things the buyer wants to see. I figure I have nothing to lose, the buyer is not going to buy the house without looking at what is important to them.
By Cindy Billman,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:52
I love this post! So very true!
By Brenda Starr, Realtor,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:53
Great article! We really do know these things but it's nice to be reminded again. I think one of my biggest issues is with pictures Realtors put on their MLS! What are they thinking? I have spent many hours, with many sellers, helping to clean up, organize and stage the home so it presents well. When I'm searching for a buyer, if the pictures are terrible, I don't even send it. Realtors, get a clue! Maybe you just don't want it sold?

Brenda Starr, Realtor
Sky Realty
Austin, TX
By Maryanne,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:58
My pet peeve is when the house is listed without a number and street address. Trulia continues to accept listings without addresses. It's the same realtors who do this over and over. As a potential buyer, I don't want to have to call a realtor who does this. I don't want to share my personal information with this random realtor. I want information from the realtor-I don't need to tell you who I am . I only want to see if the house is located in a place I'm interested in living. Are you trying to sell a house or increase your network of potential buyers? So, I'll just pass those listings by.
As a seller, I would insist that the address be put in the listing. I refuse to hire any realtor whowill not advertisie the address of my house. I want to sell it!
If I'm a buyer I want to know the address since the location is critical. I may even want to drive by to get a look at it from the road, before I contact the realtor.
By Jim Behrmann NMLSR ID 501647,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 05:58
Very good info Tara!
By Trent Warner Monopoly Builder,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:00
Sellers need to listen not speak! The buyer will ask questions, make comments or make body jestures that will tell the story. If we are talking and not watching/listening we miss them! It's about the buyer visualizing them in that property! Listen and paint the picture.
By Victoria Thomas,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:00
Well done. Excellent advice. So many times our sellers have fallen in "love" with their homes because they have customized them so much that it becomes difficult for them to understand why buyers do not care for their property. My best advice is to redo as much as possible and to create a more neutral setting so that buyers can look at the home and get a real feel for the room sizes and be able to envision themselves living there, instead of looking at all the "stuff".
By Larry,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:05
As a seller and buyer, I've seen many listings with numerous photos. Unfortunately, most of them are pictures of the home furnishings and show little of the home itself.
I look for those that show all sides of the outside, all rooms that give a potential buyer a better idea of the sizes, and especially of the bathrooms and kitchen. It's also a great plus when the photos show the yards and what's in them. Photos of the inside of a garage are also of great benefit to those with large vehicles that need to know if theirs will fit inside. Many listings state that a garage has 'storage', but is it just cabinets on the walls (limiting available parking space) or actual additional space?
By Alma Aguayo,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:05
Love your post. Good information.
Alma Aguayo, Broker/Sales Person
Basking Ridge, NJ
By Angela Gagauf,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:08
Tara, great post!

As a home stager, I VERY frequently have to deal with issue #2 and this issue is totally controlled by the home seller. According to Martha Webb (Certified Home Marketing Specialist), the conditions that prevent fast sales are: odors 29%, clutter 17%, decor 10%, carpet 9%, minor repairs 6%. The balance 29% are unmet buyer criteria. What's KEY is that 71% IS CONTROLLABLE by the seller.

Re: issue #5, happily I haven't run across pink kitty tiles in the kitchen! But I DO frequently come across home sellers who proudly tell me that they've already painted the interior of the house when I arrive to do the staging consultation. Those words spell "doom" to me! I've come across stark white walls or lemon yellow walls, teal, lavender, RED...you name it! They've already invested the money to re-paint so they're not going to make any changes now that I've arrived! Sellers, stick to neutrals such as Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan HC-81, Shaker Beige HC-45 or Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige 6106. There are many more suitable colors. Or consult with a stager BEFORE you paint.

And re: #6, always make sure your listings are "picture perfect". If you take the time to properly stage your home, your pictures should be great. Just make sure your agent uses a wide angle lens.
By Tigger,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:09
I agree with you Brenda, they only have one chance to impress the potential buyer either through the pictures on MLS or when they walk in the door. If they can't say WOW I can see myself living here in 10 - 15 seconds then they will move on to the next house. That is where a professional home stager can make that home look it's best in person and on the MLS listing. In today's buyers market, the seller must understand it is not only pricing the property correctly but it is also a beauty contest against the next home that potential buyer is also looking to compare where they can get the best bang for their buck.
By Edyta Gryc - Broker Associate,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:11
As always, great post! Thank you for sharing with us the tips.
By Jeri Jo Meyer,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:11
Tara, Great article! I would add one thing that is a huge turn off here in the Mid-West where the snow just keeps coming. Buyers are turned off when walkways and driveways aren't shoveled! They can't even get to the house, so they're dissapointed before we walk in.. not good.

Jeri Jo Meyer
Inspired Home Real Estate & Staging
DeWitt MI, 48820 517-420-5730
By Ray and Karen Levy,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:15

What a great article. I've got one of those stalker sellers right now.

Maybe I'll send them on a cruise :)
By Larry,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:16
In 2006, I succeeded in selling a home in the Los Angeles metro area that two brokers said wouldn't bring more than $400K. How did I do it? PICTURES! I listed it on eBay with links to over 50 photos, with a notice that it was in probate and would be listed with MLS as soon as cleared by the court .
The broker I listed with reluctantly accepted my firm asking price of $800K. He got a cash buyer 3 days later, with 16 other offers. That buyer never saw the house in person. He told the broker that after viewing it on eBay, there were no questions that it was the house he wanted. The pictures clearly showed that the yards were immaculate, the house was immaculate and in excellent condition, and the only repair needed (where a city truck hit a wall) was clearly shown and detailed with three estimates form licensed contractors.
By Lawrence Tobler,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:19
Excellent article, two thumbs up!!!
By Lisa Egstad,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:34
Staging a home is crucial and getting the sellers not to take it personally can be challenging. Any suggestions on how to frame the conversation so as not to insult the sellers?
By Susan Greenbaum,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:35
This was very informative to the public. I am always telling a sellers to look at what the buyer would see in your house. I will even hand them a punch list of things to be done before I take the listing. I make sure the seller sees what a buyer would take notice of, by pointing out trouble areas. I make a point of saying ' this is now a house " to the potential buyer it's a "home" clean up the messes, don't over price, or it will sit on the market.
By Sharon Avram & Karen Abramson,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:40
Just one addition to a great blog. If you own a pet (cat or dog or even a bird) make sure to list it and to get the pet out of the house if possible before showings or make sure they are secured and not greeting you as you enter. Buyers with allergies or some who are afriad of dogs may just be turned off by a "surprise pet".
As a stager I 100% agree with the smelly, ugly and clattered!!! How hard is it to clean up your house?!?!?!?
Great post as always.



Karen Abramson
By Tracy Tomer,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:42
Thi is a really good, no nonsense article that I can share with sellers. It is the same things I tell them, but it is great for them to see it in print! Thank you.
By Brenda Harris,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:42
Excellent article!! My Pet Peeves are pictures that show nothing!!! Showing the exterior of the house only makes one wonder what are you trying to hide? I also wonder when pictures are taken why time is not taken to clear the clutter in the kitchen, clean the counter tops, take off all your magnets from the refridgerator, hid the trash can, make your beds, put away your clothes.. if you are selling your home make it shine!! Pictures are the window to looking your home.

Brenda Harris
Nexes Realty, Inc
Muskegon, MI
By Karen S. Smith,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:43
These are some great points. When owners are considering an upgrade, they should do so with the understanding that their tastes may not be the same as the majority of consumers. Sometimes it might be better to ask a professional's opinion about the upgrade before it begins. Life can throw punches sometimes and you may have to sell your home sooner than you had anticipated.
By Dana Scanlon,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:43
Excellent advice for all home sellers, and listing agents as well! After all, who controls the quality of the photos, or the absence of them! After the sellers completed most of the tasks on my "to do" list for them, including repainting the front door from blah beige to a semi-gloss red, it was my turn. In preparation for a professional photo shoot yesterday in Kensington MD, I went to Home Depot and bought a flat of pansies, and planted them myself in the front planters by the doorway. I raked out the little remnants of snow so it would melt in the few hours of sunshine before the photographers came. Result: I have beautiful crisp photos of the house, inside and out. The house goes on the market today and I will be proud to show it.
By Lucretia Ramsey,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:45
Yes, sellers must be realistic about pricing in the current market. As you stated in your article remodeling important,
but what's really important is haven't done correctly and updated for current times.
By Anita & Richard Bailey,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:48
Great information. It just makes sense to present a house in the best possible light. Not only is it more asthetically appealing, but it also indicates to Buyers that there is pride of ownership and that in all probability it has been well cared for. Whether in person or on line, homes should peak the Buyers interest with pristine condition and great staging. We tell our Sellers most people cannot imagine what they can not see. Great articale Tara.

Anita & Richard Bailey
The Bailey Group
Keller Williams Consultants
Marysville, Ohio
By Kevin Geary,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:50
I appreciate #6. I'm always amazed when a home is listed with only 1 or sometimes no photos. "I guess they don't really want to sell the home, and the Realtor can't be bothered with this listing" is usually the first statement that comes to mind!
By Stagedseller,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:50
Wow! OK, realtors, now for some feedback from a seller! How about buyers' realtors learning about a house BEFORE they bring a buyer for a showing? We've had realtors who did not know what school district the house was in, telling them the wrong school, miles away. Another wasted our time with a showing when their buyer wanted a Mother-in-law suite. Hello!! Read the MLS report before you make me accomodate you for a showing. We've had THREE visits from a family that wound up not being financially qualified. We've had realtors show up with their buyers THREE hours before a scheduled appointment. We've had quite a few realtors not bother to fill out the feedback form (hello, YES or NO for buyer interest--takes two seconds on your blackberry). Our home has been staged, cleared out, in prime location, priced to sell. But having seen the lack of professionalism as shown by the realtors bringing unqualified "buyers" and wasting our time, we are amazed. We thought that tough times would weed out inexperienced realtors who don't brief themselves on the houses they are showing. This has been an education on what is wrong with the real estate market.
By Cristy Hathaway,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:52
I totally agree with this article!! Slam dunk on the seller letting the buyers walk the property without a "tour." That's the buyer's agents job and they know better than the seller what the buyer is looking for in "their" perfect home, they don't necessarily like the seller's personal preferences.

This also opens up a can of worms if the buyer and seller start pre-negotiating the terms of the sale, or the seller goes into how much money was spent on upgrades, (like baby blue carpet), that the buyer doesn't really care for, and now feel like the item is too valuable to rip out and replace with their own taste of carpet, etc. So, what do the buyers do??? They buy another house that doesn't give them "uncomfortable" feelings.

That brings up another point, emotions play a big part in chosing the right home to buy. If the seller is present, I would bet, from my experience with buyers, that approximately 9 out of 10 buyers will be extremely uncomfortable and will not even see the house. They will only hear the seller and not really be relaxed enough to imagine themselves living there. Hence, they buy another house.

Great article Tara!
By Andrew R. Ellis,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:59
In this market (Colorado Springs), homes have to be staged to sell. All my listings come with free professional staging reports. Sellers are more inclined to listen to the suggestions of the stager rather than the Realtor. I believe that the staging has contributed greatly my success in procuring offers for otherwise unsellable properties. I like Angela Gagauf's comments. Thanks!

Andy Ellis
RE/MAX Properties
Monument, CO 80132
By Brenda A Gomez,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:00





By Juliet Jimenez,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:01
As a buyer, I have a problem with the wide-angle lens pictorials. Sometimes the angle is so wide it's ridiculous, and it's hard to visualize what the rooms and yard actually look like, When I see the house in person afterward, it often looks horribly cramped after having viewed the stretched out version in the photos. A modestly wide angle helps the buyer see more of a room or yard in one photo; an extreme wide angle is like visiting the fun house at an amusement park, and is of no help at all - or worse.
By Voices Member,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:01
A post worth printing and sharing!! Thank you!
By Richard "Dick" Clark,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:02
These are some good pointers to help Sellers IF they're intersted in doing 'whatever' it takes to SELL their property in this market.
By Voices Member,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:02
A good agent does go over all this with a Seller before hand.. but sharing this in print will really help!
By Pam Wittenauer,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:13
Great article!
By Patty Miller,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:15
Thank you, Tara. This is a very good article. I always request sellers to be absent when home is being shown. It makes buyers very uncomfortable. They feel they can not visit with one another about the home and they also feel like they are intruding if the seller is there. Great advise!
Patty Miller
By Suzanne P. Smith,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:22
There are many services that I routinely provide my clients that eliminate homeselling issues. The top three include:
Pricing: When the seller has unrealistic expectations after the CMA and market data are presented, I encourage the seller to have a market appraisal prepared and I then reimburse the seller for half of the cost at closing.
House Condition: If the house appears to have deferred maintenance issues, I prompt the seller to hire an inspector and make repairs that could prevent a sale.
Presentation and Marketing: I provide a professional stager to assist in educating the seller and preparing the home to sell. Once staged and ready, I hire a professional photographer to take pictures.
There are no shortcuts to success!
By Jana,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:26
I agree with everything here...my sister and I trade listings via email of the worst of the worst photo or description listings offenders in our areas. We invest in income property.
My thoughts on this article are: Please, do yourself a favor, check your listing’s spelling and punctuation and have someone else read it before posting it to the web. Also, if your listing says “Newly remodeled” or “Stunning backyard” and you don’t show it…why bother mentioning it at all? As a buyer, I will want to see that!
And remodeled does not mean freshly painted. What the word “Remodeled” means (to me) that everything has been touched. That the cabinets have been replaced or refaced, that the bathrooms have new fixtures, and that the flooring is new, the windows and doors are replaced, and the mechanicals are new. If the interior of the house has been freshly painted, but that is it – that is not a remodel. It is just a freshly painted interior. Just say that.
Staging a home sells a home. Period. Do you want it to linger on the market, or do you want it sold? Spend the money and hire a stager. Prepack, declutter, and thin out your personal possessions. Do what it takes to show your house in the best possible light!
I have three pet peeves, aimed at listing agents.
1. Do NOT post a half-remodeled home WITH pictures on the web, and expect it to sell. I am sorry, but the first impression I get is, "How much will I have to do to make this house habitable?"
2. Turn on the lights! I cannot begin to tell you how many listings I look at with photos that show a darken kitchen or living room.
3. DON’T post photos taken with your cellphone camera. Please. You are doing a great disservice to your client.
By Adam Knolls,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:35
What do you suggest if the inside really is not appropriate for pictures due to condition, and you include that statement politely yet clearly in the remarks? Would you still post interior pictures that would turn buyers away, or just the exterior pictures , particularly this home's 1.2 acres, and limit the number to four since several websites won't post listings with under four pictures in advanced searches, etc?
By Judi Schmidt Arnold,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:37
We always try to point out these items when listing a home, but some sellers really take offense at our suggestions. Using this in print as coming from a reliable source (Trulia) will be very helpful and hopefully will have our sellers take our suggestions more seriously. I have also made out a tri-fold pass out entitled "20 Helpful Hints to Get Your Home to Smile a Welcome" that we include in our CMA and listing packets.
By Diane Beck,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:44

A great series of posts! I totally agree with Heidi-the toilet seat up is a real turnoff. Don't know why it's so hard to convince sellers of these simple steps they can take when selling their home. As a Home Stager I have heard many excuses. What seller's need to realize is they are moving out. The house is no longer theirs. Sounds cruel to some but if the house is not depersonalized it cannot be appealing to prospective buyer's. A a savvy seller will capitalize on this knowledge and take advantage of it. Thanks for the info!
By Judy Sharma,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:48
Thanks, Tara. A great article.
By Janice Nolan,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:50
To the point-loved it!
By Donald E Blakeley, Jr.,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:52

Very good information, some sellers are just clueless, totally clueless....especially when it comes to their "babies."
By Suzy,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 07:53
Our home is listed in a 55+ gated community in Denton, TX and has had a few showings. If a realtor is bringing a client, we sit out back or otherwise be absent. However, I am holding Open Houses frequently (me, not the realtor) and I do point out the features. I have been told not to leave prospects on their own in my house without being accompanied. So how do I give them space, yet point out the features. Our home shows well, is clean, uncluttered, all of that. Traffic is simply limited. Any other advice would be welcome. thanks.
By Natalee Thurston,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:00
Really good article....Thank you!
By Gena Isaacson,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:03
In response to Carol K.'s comment: When purchasing a home in California and the transaction is in escrow, a Natural Hazard Disclosure (NHD) is prepared by a private company that has access to many reports of issues for the particular property. This is done within the first week. A buyer will review that information and if the property has an issue that presents a material concern (devalues the property in the buyer's mind) then the buyer can cancel the contract without penalty. It is up to the buyer to conduct any and all investigations and inspections and the seller's responsibility to disclose any known issues. The Realtor assists in delivering the disclosures and if they know of any issues to tell the buyer - but not to conduct investigations. In your case, being the information was delivered to you a month after the sale, it sounds like FEMA has changed the zones since your original disclosures. I have a client that disputed FEMA's decision about his particular property and they considered his request and changed the map to not include his property in the flood zone. Thus he was not required to pay flood insurance. You may want to research it further with FEMA and an attorney.
Best to you in your new home.
By Cynthia Drew,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:04
And Sellers: when photos are being taken of your kitchen - pleeeeezzzze declutter. Take the stuff off the counters, hide all your favorite knick knacks and in heaven's name, take all the photos and magnets off the front of the refrigerator. I'm sorry, but buyers want to see your kitchen, not your personality.
By Elizabeth,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:04
As a prospective buyer, I agree fully with the article and most of the comments above. We really dislike being bamboozled with wide-angle photos and deceiving descriptions of the home improvements. As mentioned, the worst is when no photos, dark photos and the descriptions are vague. My husband and I recently viewed a property and the seller was "hanging out" the entire walk through. We were very uncomfortable and could not view the property as thoroughly as we would have liked. In retrospect, our realtor should have arranged a more convenient time for the sellers. We also visited a property that had decent photos, however, the house smelled horrible and is in dire need of updates, needless to say, it was a short visit. We've come to terms that all homes in our price range ($300-350k) in NJ are in need of repair, however, certain sellers are in true denial of their distressed homes and they are ridiculously overpriced for today's market or any market, for that matter.

We placed an offer on a short sale in early January that was advertised as "approved" and quick closing. We are still waiting for the bank to accept/deny our offer. It's clear that we were misled and are now viewing other properties as a result.

Lastly, I'm not sure if realtors in NJ are not motivated to sell or whether our price range is not worth their time. We've met several realtors who seemed interested in working with us but they fail to follow up or don't respond to our e-mails. We're in a great position to buy- we've been pre-approved by two banks, we're currently renting and open to improvements. We are starting to take it personally :)
By Vee,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:32
What annoys me--the smell of cats, especially when the whole house is carpeted. I become physically ill & want to vomit, although my realtor tells me he cannot smell anything! Another no, no for me is carpeting everywhere, & paneled walls, hideously ugly & I also wonder what's under that paneling. Clutter everywhere, that's a turn off, even though i try to stay focused on the actual space. Yes, of course, homeowners & realtors who point out everything---I can see, i know it's a stairway, a closet, a toilet. Leave me alone & shut up, realtors, stop babbling.!!!!
By Tony,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:45
I'm curently in the market to purchase my first home. I have recently seen horrors while visiting homes for sale: (i) a stalker who would not let my agent explain anything. She even forgot to flush one of the bathrooms and there was dirty dishes all ove the counter, (ii) a listing with a sick pet - wow, the place smelled like a dumbster and we did not even bother to get inside, (iii) clearly mismatch between what was shown in the photos and the actual layout (iv) family photos and clutter everywhere, (v) lack of photos. My final peeve - unrealistic pricing. It amazes me as a buyer why a seller would price his home much higher than his neigbour - his argument, well, my house is a 10 minutes walking distance to metro, while neighbour's house is a 15 minutes walking to metro. Sure, I won't pay additional 100k for extra 5 minutes walk. The killer is sell by owner; wow, I have seen some unrealistic sale by owners who don't want to even look at comps.
By Susana Field Rangely RealtyGal,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:16
A couple of weeks ago I showed a property where the seller hung out in her garage smoking while we were there, forgot to tell her renter - who was closed up in one of the bedrooms - that we were coming, and had left all of the blinds drawn tight. What was the seller thinking? Well obviously she hadn't been shown your post! I'm an Exclusive Buyer Agent and will share this post, via my facebook page, with my buyers to prepare them for what they might be walking into!
By Mditlove,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:20
I've done both, leave the realtor and potential buyer alone, much to my dismay and that of the buyer. The buyer asked so many questions that only I could answer that I never got a chance to leave, that happens time and time again. Blame the lazy realtors who don't bother to learn about the house and neighborhood they're pretending to sell. Then they give you no feedback, even when you call them, they don't even know what they're doing. I am selling a highly desirable house, all glass facing the sunset on a huge chain of lake, only one hour from Chicago on 3/4 acre of land, (two lots). Selling this one should not be rocket science, my wife is a professional interior designer and we stage it as if for photography in a magazine, all your comments, while somewhat true, are useless and don't address the real issues, don't blame the home seller for bad business, blame the realtor. I can give you many, many examples of realtor incompetence and/or lazyness, realty is not a profession, it is a refuge for bored housewives or those who are even too dumb to teach.
By Kris Krenz,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:23
It seems like most of the post are from Agents and not sellers. I want to add a few points from a seller’s perspective:

Stalker-ish sellers -- I will “NOT” let a Realtor and their client roam through my house when I’m not here. It would be different if the house were empty or staged. But things do disappear, lights are left on, the toilet becomes dirty, as well as mud tracked in (based on my last experience). I became tired of cleaning bathrooms and shampooing the carpet of a vacant house. Now everyone who walks through our house must put on contractor booties. While I don’t shadow them during their viewing, I thank them when they leave and ask if they have any final questions. – Our waterfront property is a special case because many realtors are misinformed in understanding riparian grants, rights, etc. In last Sundays Asbury Park Press there was on open house, which stated “Riparian Grant” when there was non-according to the township maps. I see this error constantly. Realtors could snafu a sale if they don’t know the “true” facts. As the homeowner I know and have researched these facts. I’ve created a pamphlet which clients can pick up when they tour. I also posted this information on a website I created which explains the many features and amenities, which cannot be added to the MLS. – In most cases when an agent is taking a client through our home they have no clue about the energy efficiency, material used on the countertops or the advantage of a pipeless jetted tub (Have you heard of one?). Our property may be passed by because the potential buyer isn’t aware of the facts. -After they view the house and I thank them, point out a few of the important features, which has little to do with the physical look of the house, but makes the house efficient. Am I considered stalker-ish?

Feeling misled: This rule is broken all the time on the MLS and other sites. It seems to be industry standard. Shame on everyone! I’ve seen so many misleading photos that I could go through the local MLS today and point many of these deceptions out. I do follow the competition in my area and have done so for years. I see so many misleading photographs of the water views from the property when the actual view is much different. Fish-eye virtual tours are probably the worst violators, yet they are being used all the time. -- They make the room/area look twice as big. It isn’t the home seller who is submitting these pictures to the MLS. Pictures need to be verified by an independent source. If found misleading they should be removed. My wife and I have been in the process of searching for a new home. My personal time has been wasted as well as the selling agent’s because of misleading photos. I resent being tricked.

The only way for a realtor to sell a property is to know the property (house and features). Our house is a new listing as of January. My home office faces the street and I constantly see realtors passing by. They slow down point, etc. Yea, the house has great curb appeal, but the real draw is the waterside, which is mostly blocked from the street by the home landscaping. Not one of those agents has ever requested a tour. – I would welcome any realtor into my home as long as they notify me first.
By Michael Hassanpour,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:24
Very good Tara. Very useful information.
By Kris Krenz,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:44
By Trent Warner - Stated Sellers need to listen not speak! The buyer will ask questions, make comments or make body jestures that will tell the story. If we are talking and not watching/listening we miss them! It's about the buyer visualizing them in that property! Listen and paint the picture.

This goes both ways. I've heard many un-truths spoken by realtors. The best one was when my neighbor was having an open house and the realtor pointed into our yard at our long waterfront deck and stated to an individual viewing the house: "There is a beautiful boardwalk you can use". -- Duh... private property! An old PA Dutch proverb: An empty wagon rattles more.
By Voices Member,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:45
Vonderful Dahling, Vonderful .
By Savannah Boon,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:47
Very entertaining! Also great information for agents as well as buyers/sellers! Thanks so much!
By Roosevelt Mompremier,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:48
Well done...keep up the good work!
By Lila Ellis,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:56
Thank you Tara! Very good article.
By Randy Brown,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:58
Great article. I'd like to give more credence to the comment on photos. I look at 50 to 100 listings every week. And although I buy some really crappy properties for rehab (foreclosures) I am constantly amazed at the even crappier photos that real estate agents post. Wake up people, this is an internet driven industry and when you post a picture that is so dark you can't tell what room it was in, or you can't tell if the kitchen counter top is tile, granite or bare wood you're not even going to peak the investors interest. I've seen photos on properties so out of focus that you couldn't tell if it was a photo of a house, a barn or just the inside of a cardboard box.

Every broker in the country should have a class (basic of course) on how to photograph a house. And not posting a single photo is complete laziness or incompetence to the highest degree. Brokers should hide their faces in shame for allowing their agents to get away with this.

Again, great article,
By Brian,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 09:59
When we sold a home (my grandmother's after she passed), I did some minor maintenance, thoroughly cleaned the house, and baked bread in the oven the day of the open house. The first agent & prospective buyer arrived early as I was planting flowers in the flower bed out front. We got an offer from that buyer only a few hours later, and sold the house to her. Enough said about preparing your house for sale?!
By Mditlove,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 10:04
And furthermore, since you've probably already decided that I'm a malcontent (which I am), here is what my house looks like, as a professional photographer and designer, I produced a website to show it off and give ASKED FOR information: http://www.ditlovehouse.com. Please note that while my toilet seats are down, it's a bit childish to make that an issue, if it's clean, it's not a big deal, in fact, some people like to lift the lid to see the water quality in the house, if you don't know why, you have no business being a realtor. Every realtor that has come to my house has just stood there like an idiot and never bothered to try and SELL the house and it's many features, and I'm not talking doodads here, but things like huge closets, heating, air conditioning, the neighbors, children in the neighborhood, etc., the REAL and TRUE things that are of importance to a buyer, not your platitudes. And remember that the wide angle lens is not always used to distort reality, but allows us to show reality, some rooms that could only be shown in pieces by cheaper cameras can be shown in their entirety with a wide angle lens, what ignorant people call distortion is nothing more than perspective, a TRUE realtor should know or learn that to explain it to the buyer so the buyer is not confused. And so on......
By Imogene,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 10:13
You did not ask for a fee for providing good basic information. You provided your comments from others that are very helpful and did not ask for a fee. I would like to see addresses on realty listings for location purposes. This saves me and you time in buying and selling. I also would like to access foreclosures/bankowned/etc listings (addresses, information and costs) without paying a fee. A non-commercial/business person may wish to purchase these homes at a much affordable price than one can afford otherwise.
By Kirsten,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 10:25
I am looking at investment properties here and have seen some crazy things. Luckily I am not a high strung buyer and if it gets weird I tend to find it really amusing. I can see past cosmetic problems, clutter, dirt and pets, but I doubt very many other buyers will be able to get past those things. My buyer's agent Diane Brennan of Keller Williams is awesome, totally knowledgeable and does a ton of homework for me. We have already seen a lot of strange things together.

The house she showed me that has already gone into legendary status for her at her office is a foreclosed house where the bank (or the seller's agent? not sure) had agreed to let a homeless woman and her daughter live in the house for free as a "home minder" and let people in to see the house. They've been there nearly a year now rent free and when we walked in it was like a scene from that tv show Hoarders - every surface and floor was covered with dirty underwear, clothes, food wrappers, trash, etc. The floors had all been ripped out and were bare concrete and there was a three foot deep pit dug in the middle of the living room floor.

But none of that qualified it for legend status. And it wasn't the two giant dobermans that kept jumping up at me or the trashed yard. No, it was the fact that the "home minder" kept live chickens in the house! And sadly we got the impression that she and her daughter were living on the eggs they laid. And then, doubtless motivated by the desire to keep living there, the woman proceeded to give us a tour of everything that was wrong with the house, painstakingly showing us every sign of advanced termite damage , telling us which room had been continually flooded due to a faulty drainage system and was full of dry rot, etc. Lastly she told us that we should be happy she has chickens in the house because they eat "most" of the scorpions!

When my agent called the listing agent to report this he said he's send someone out there, but he was clearly completely overwhelmed with so many listings that he hadn't actually been to most of them and this seemed to be a hassle that he didn't want to deal with.
By Mditlove,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 10:35
OK, now that I've complained about realtors, here is the real problem I have with the MLS and the national association of realtors. I live on a lakefront in the most desirable part of the chain of lakes near Chicago: http://www.ditlovehouse.dom. The problem is that my address is a McHenry address, (their post office must have lost the toss when deciding who would deliver my mail). I live in a different county and kids here go to different schools and more importantly, if you look at McHenry for a lake, you see a river and you think I'm lying. I have asked the MLS and every realtor who solicits my listing to change my listing so people can see and know where I really am, and so that people who go to Realtor.com and click on "surrounding area" will see it come up, to NO AVAIL, the MLS refuses to make changes, Realtor says they get information from the MLS and I end up sitting here in limbo. That is one of the reasons I'm selling by owner, If I could find a realtor willing to fix this issue, they might have a shot at a listing over 550K. My own realtor refused to deal with this, and even refused to do any print advertising to the over 100 million Americans who don't use computers or even do what I have done for them, research on who likes Mid Century Modern houses which is what I have. But the MLS issue is the most serious and egregious. Anyone willing to take that on? It would become a win/win situation.
By Aaron Schreiner,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 10:44
Listing phots can make a big difference when trying to gain interest.
By Jason Coryell,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 10:59
The 1st piece of advice says to not be in the way when a buyer walks the house. The problem I have is if I dont talk up the improvements in the house, who will? The buyers agent doesnt know a damn thing about my house other than what it says on the MLS printout. That is not good advice at all. Does Chevy allow salesmen to show cars without putting out information about the qualities of a car?
By FHA Buyer,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:08
As a home buyer I completely disagree with your first turn-off. I much prefer a seller to be home when I walk through a home. The information they give me is very upfront and honest, giving me a clear picture of the home, the neighbourhood etc and things the agent likely does no know about. It makes me much more confident knowing a home-owner had pride of ownership, and though you are correct, we may very well want to undo things they hold dear. It means more knowing they took the time and concern to show the home than had they simply left. I have always had good experiences after meeting a home-owner, and it puts me as a buyer in a much better position to recieve an accepted offer. Many sellers want more than just a printed name and an offer. They want to put a face to a buyer and be confident the buyer will love and care for the home as they did. I think a buyer not being home leaves me at a greater disadvantage and I always prefer them to be home. The worst part of the real estate game was feeling like as a buyer, we were playing a childrens game of telephone. (Ask my agent - he'll ask your agent - they'll ask you - you tell them - they'll tell my agent - he'll tell me etc) I was always thankful for a home owner that was home, interested, and available to answer questions.

As for feeling misled, I recently came across a home that said 'great family neighbourhood, very friendly'. As I do with all potential homes, I ran it through family watchdog the website that provides current registered sex offenders. I found one who has multiple convictions living directly across the street. Now when they said very friendly area, I don't think that is the kind of friendly a family is looking for. A tip to all realtors - run your listings through to see if there are any registered sex offenders in the immdeiate area, if there are I understand you are not bound to disclose this, but please don't tout the home as being super friendly, great for kids etc.
By Inquisigal,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:10
To add to the conversation: sellers who have 100+ year-old houses to sell absolutely should to get their home inspected prior to putting it on the market, and also need to think outside of the "comps" box when they're choosing a listing price.

My husband and I have been looking for a home to buy in NYC (Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, to be precise), in a neighborhood in which all the homes date back to the late 1800's. Because of the "boom," many owners of these houses seem to just pick the highest price that was last asked during the boom years, and list that way.

A house we made an offer on - while desirable because it had all of its original Victorian details and the walls, floors, and ceilings were in great shape - turned out to need a complete electrical and plumbing upgrade, a new boiler (it literally blew up during the inspection), in addition to needing all kitchens and bathrooms (which dated back to the 1970's or 1980's) redone. Yet, when we lowered our offer after the inspection, the owner at first wouldn't budge, then changed his mind and agreed to replace the boiler and lower the price a tiny bit - which we agreed to - but then dragged his heels and wouldn't replace the boiler UNTIL we signed the contract.

This behavior made us very suspicious - as the house had been empty a year, and we were skeptical about radiators and pipes being compromised by the lack of use - and we decided not to sign the contract. Apparently, all other offers were lower or not as sound as ours, so the house didn't end up selling and the owner took it off the market.

There seems to be this impulse by sellers to "charge" for antique details - which honestly is ludicrous if all the mechanicals are old and need replacing. I just want to let sellers know that in this economic climate - we buyers are not going to pay top dollar for homes that need $80,000 worth of work. Sorry!
By Sylvia Jonathan,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:16
The there are listings with ONE fuzzy photo of the property taken with a phone camera! Sellers, if your agent does that, have a serious heart-to-heart with the AGENT.
By M. P. Blackburn,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:20
great to be reminded, was very informational. m.p.blackburn, truman ball and associates realty,benton, arkansas.
By John Crowe,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:25
Big fan of homes for sale with clothes, clutter, dirt, etc everywhere. So easy to clean and keep (moderately) clean, and it helps sell the home more quickly. Dumb.
By Rebecca Lingle,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:38
Ha! #1 is so true.
By Julia Evinger,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 11:56
Very good article. A buyer is investing a lot of money in their new home and wants to know the home is clean and well kept. Sellers often have an emotional attachment to their current homes and do not step back to see their homes through the eyes of the buyer. It's all about condition, location and price to secure their home's sale..
By Melodie Rice,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 12:00
Great truth ! How many times I have looked through inside home pictures of laundry, dogs, and dishes. I will not give that house a chance as I can smell it through the computor.
By Krishna Perkins,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 12:35
Great post! I can not for the life of me understand why a seller would allow a listing to go up without the max number of pictures ready to go day one.
By SanDesigns,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 12:37
I have bought and sold fifteen homes in my lifetime so far and even though I have rarely worked outside my home I have always left and at least took a walk when a realtor brought a prospective buyer to see my home because what I want myself when I look at homes is the ability to make comments to my spouse or realtor about possible changes, etc. I have always staged my homes even when staging was a term that did not exist yet (in the 1970s-80s) and as a result have rarely had a home on the market for more than a week or two in any economic market.
The only time I had a home on the market for a long time (five months) was when my realtors (a married couple in Portland Oregon) put the wrong phone number in the listing and kept insisting when no one showed any interest in my condo that the listing had no errors so it must be the price which I lowered every two weeks from 185K to finally 160K at which time a realtor who took over their listings when they went on a trip discovered immediately the incorrect phone number (a simple transposition of numbers) and once it was corrected, the first people to see my condo made an offer (which I accepted in relief). Sadly, if the right phone number had been on the listing I would have been $25K better off. Some people I've told about this have told me I should have sued this couple for negligence in their fiduciary duties but this was in 2003. I've also had realtors who refused to list features which I felt were important things about my home. I have gotten a real estate license twice in my life (Florida and California) and most of the time I feel like I could do a better job than the realtors I have used, but I hate the legal aspect of selling real estate (disclosures, etc).
By Nancy R Riley, MBA,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 12:41
Great post and comments! I agree with a lot of things to avoid when selling a home. Cleanliness, odor free, uncluttered spaces (the least furniture and personal objects the better) are a must. If an agent is representing the seller it is a duty to educate the seller on what the potential buyer expects. Before taking potential buyers to see the house for sale the agent would do well to preview the property. Do your homework first and your chances of success will improve. Nancy Riley
By Payton Rosborough,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 12:55
By Payton R. Keller Williams 02-24-11, I totally agree with this article!! I am always telling a sellers to look at what the buyer would see in your house. I will even hand them a punch list of things to be done before I take the listing. I make sure the seller sees what a buyer would take notice of, by pointing out trouble areas. I make a point of saying ' this is not a house " to the potential buyer it's their "home" clean up the messes, don't over price, or it will sit on the market.
By Jen,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 13:03
What a great post and the comments are informative both for sellers and buyers. We are looking for a new home in Leander TX and my biggest peeves are home listings with no photos or puny little ones that are worthless in assessing a home. I want to see the kitchen, bathrooms, living areas and if the home has a study, I want to see that as well. I don't want to see one or two photos of the front of the home.

My other peeve is something another poster mentioned and that is the Realtor who doesn't give an address. I want the address so I know if it is a good location or not. (BTW, if I really want to find it, I can so why bother to withhold it..) I will avoid a Realtor like the plague who does this.

About stalkers.. my son wanted to rent in the Leander area and we looked at a house where the home owner did just that. He was interesting but he took up an hour of our time talking about his relatives, his work history, how he bought the house and more. The Realtor trying to help us could do nothing but listen as we were forced to do. The only good thing is, he liked my son so he was willing to accommodate him with moving dates and fees.

Do your clients a favor, tell them what needs to be done to fix the house and how to act when someone wants to look at it, give them the correct price range as well because in this market it will sit, unsold for months.
By Guy Young,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 13:49
I am a home buyer, Speaking from exsperence with in the last 3 years of looking. I have come across alot of homes, This will be my 4th year of looking again and will decide to buy this year. May i share with you my thoughts. I do think everything Tara said is very true. Home owners want to sell there homes its best to take the advise given. But also it may be a wonderful thing to think about if the home owner would hold the morgage. That would draw alot of attention from buyers like bees to honey, For the simple reason alot of people are fed up with bad banking pratices, Morgage companys that have fallen in line with the banking pratices, Insurence companys that work both sides of the fence sort of say. The banks seem to pretty much run the houseing market, Alot of times there requirements and standards are very high, I know this might be warranted to some degree, But for the most part if a buyer comes to a home he or she likes and wants to buy the home they need to jump though hoops and run though hurrdels, If a person has 20.000 To 50.000 to put down on a home it pretty much tells everyone that there pretty serious dont you think. If the buyer did not make enough in one year to meet the banks standards your out of the buying game till next year , After you meet the requirements you waite, Then you go though a process, Lawyers, Title serch, Insurence, Inspections, Morgage brokers, Kind of feels like your on the edge of a cliff looking down wondering whats next. Then comes the final talley of cost,
Perhaps it might be best for all you agents to go back 20 to 40 years ago when home owners dident mind holding morgages long as there was a good down payment. Make the process simple and afordable, As it was then. Realestate agents can and should give both options to sellers. I would like to see the home owner collect the interest from the sale of there property rather then a bank. Let the home owner be sent a check every month instead of a bank, Most banks are in deep trouble these days, And the reason there are so many foreclosers is because there standards are way to high, Over the past 3 years i have looked at some nice homes, The prices seemed right to me, They were foreclosers, But when i went in person to see the homes with my agent , To our supprise all the plumbing was removed, Copper pipeing, In some others all the wireing was removed, Ok so i made an offer maybe 20.000 less then asking price. Banks never respond. They are sitting on the home waiteing for what i dont know. Then there are agents who follow the standard that everyone else does, Seems like everyones is glued to the same program and there is no other way of doing things.. I bought 5 acres of property some years ago from the owner next door. He had his lawyer draw up an agreement, I gave him a nice down payment, And made the payments every month. It was a very nice arrangement, We also became friends. All im saying is that you agents need to get creative, Go back a little in time, Study some of the old ways of doing things that worked then. Bring some of those old time pratices into the now. You might also want to lite a fire under the back sides of bankers who play games with homes that they foreclose on , Get rid of the red tape, So many people are so euducated that common sense seems to have been tossed out the window. In the Marines we have a saying, Simpifie, Adapt and overcome.
By Angie Perez,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 14:08
I like reading the comments from actual buyers. I also think Tara hit the nail on the head. This is priceless information to share with clients. My number 7, if I can add one would be, not to describe the property as having 5 bedrooms when you know its 4 or saying is the home offers 3 bedrooms, 1 and 1/2 baths, which the 1/2 bath is a toliet in the basement. That frustrates me as an agent because I rely on the MLS info to select properties to show and I certainly don't want to waste my buyer's time.

Angie Perez
By David Fleming,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 14:45
Right on the mark..I tell my clients rule # 1 is smell does not sell!
By Sandy M,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 15:42
Hi Tara,
Great post. Only thing I would add is for the sellers to not get discouraged by a slow market and be responsive to buyer inquiries. Problem we have had is not "stalking" sellers but "no info" sellers and listing agents. We haven't even talked $ but think that #3 could be the issue (overpricing). Lots of info available online now from county real estate records to Trulia and others. Sellers need to price to be competitive in the market that is the reality today, not the market of 2006.
By Kathleen Decicco,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 15:52
One of my favorites is the MLS picture of the front of the house, taken on trash pick-up day, with overflowing trash cans front and center!
By Maryanne,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 16:12
@Lv- the realtor who sent me this reply to my posting:
Hah! I think that's actually funny - a seller who won't give out the address or want her neighbors to know the house is for sale - This is not the 1990's - consumers want information. I would pass on this listing with the no address as I'm sure many others will. Your homeowner will remain the owner of this house. I can't see how this house will sell in this market since you're depending on buyers showing up to your office ans asking you to just show them random houses. We all know it's location, location, location.

Message from: Lv, Nj
I have a listing where the owner does not want her exact address listed (the house number) due to security issues. She doesn't even want her neighbors to know the house is for sale. Sometimes it's totally out of our hands & we have to honor the homeowners wishes. Am just telling you this so that perhaps you'll consider this scenario if you have the opportunity to show a house like this.
Thank you.
By Mditlove,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 16:15
Mine too, but since most realtors take their pictures, who are you blaming here? I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are realtors and what I find revolting is the contempt they all show for someone who is going to pay them 5 or 6 per cent of a lot of money for doing nothing, just sitting by the phone and answering it if it rings.
If you don't like the way the house or pictures look, do something about it instead of ragging, after all, you're supposed to be the experts?
By Christel Schaefers,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 16:37
Excellent article! Thank you!
By Lf Morris,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 16:45
All so true, Tara. Last month I saw a #6 (no photos) that turned out to be a #2 (shabby, dirty, smelly, cluttered, etc.). Of course, the owners are the original owners so they are asking top dollar. My realtor and I were both stunned at just how bad the place looked. Oh, yeah, it's still on the market!
By Tean Wong,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 23:47
Love this one!
By Bill Eckler-Florida,,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 02:57
This is soooo true....but I'd like to add one of my favorites.

Arranging for a showing in which the seller does not leave the home but elects to stay around for "periodic pop-ins & sharing important information."

Listing agents need to make it clear to these people..CLEAR OUT! Let the agent lead the buyers through exploring the home without interuption.

By MONICA CAROSI,,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 06:17
Great article Tara, sellers should trust a little bit more their brokers and let them work for their interests.

Thanks again for sharing

By Jan Milstead,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 06:18
Excellent Post
By Mark Oatsvall,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 06:26
Its a shame , Common sense info people .....and I Have seen these exact No No's myself... I have these exact problems in my neighborhood regarding cheaper less appealing homes that need work that mine does not need ...And yes , please realize that people do not want to hear about the non appealing upgrades you think are appealing ...Thanks for this article !!
By Tracy Howard,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 07:18
Great post, Tara, as usual!! Thanks! Enjoyed the comments, too, from others. I especially enjoyed the one about the "no address" listing. What???? Business isn't great for any of us right now. Why in the world would anyone want to maintain a listing with no address? Sorry, I'm not THAT desperate for business.

But I would like to make one thing clear about "no pictures" in listings. Many times, the listings that have no pictures are REO listings. They are usually listings on the low end of the market. The listing agent is probably being paid 1% to put it in the MLS, and then let someone else try to sell it. REO agents, just like all of us, are in this business to make a living. Just how much of a living could you make on a 1% listing, if you spent any of your time on it, and had to put the utilities in your name and pay the bills? The houses themselves are usually not worth much either, are not clean, the bank has taken no effort to assure the house is in good show shape, and the listing agent gets to pay all the bills for the bank and then wait months to be reimbursed. Sorry, I'm not all that interested in either a) listing these properties or 2) selling them. But, hey, the banks don't mind if you put out your money to clean them up, stage them and then hope to get reimbursed after months of waiting.

If it's a regular listing (not REO) and the broker doesn't put pictures in the MLS, at the least he/she will probably have an unhappy seller. I've heard these stories around my office about what dolts the sellers are, but the truth is, brokers have an obligation to their sellers to present their properties properly in the MLS and all other places they advertise. If they don't do that, it's time to cancel the listing and move on to another agent. If the seller says no pictures, no address, no way for any agent to show the property, then I move on.

People hire me to SELL their homes. If they choose not to listen to my advice about how to best go about doing that based on years of experience, then I don't choose to work with them. I've had many good suggestions made to me by my sellers over the years, and any good suggestion is always incorporated into the plan to sell the home, unless the seller wants me to spend thousands on advertising in print, direct mailings, etc. Since all brokers know that most business these days comes from the internet, I explain to them that the cost vs. effectiveness of print advertising and direct mailings is not economically feasible. I would rather spend my money on a good photographer, and a truly great virtual tour and single property website, plus postcards, placards and print advertising to the neighbors than on a large scale print and newspaper advertising scheme.
By SanDesigns,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 08:52
I think it's ironic that so many people put $5K professional stoves in kitchens with $8K granite counter tops when the two are so incongruous together. What restaurant puts granite counters in next to a stove that (hopefully) gets a lot of hard/heavy use? If people don't truly enjoy cooking, why waste money on a pro range? Why not just hang out in your "granite spa-like kitchen"? and order in food... or go out to eat?
As former co-owner of a French bistro/wine bar in a historic district of Portland (and truly loving to cook), I just put a Pro range in my newly designed (by me) IKEA kitchen with butcher block counters and this combination of design elements looks like it should. Especially with the black/white checkerboard porcelain tile floor which is installed wall to wall and is visible by having our white cabinets sitting on stainless legs like the stove has. The VINNA handles on our cabinets match the no nonsense straight forward look of the brushed nickel handles on our pro appliances. I guess I must sound like such a purist/foodie but I could have worse faults, right?
By Tracy Howard,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 09:15
@ Mditlove: I've read your comments several times and have spent some time looking at your "website." You might want to take a little more care in putting the link in your posts -- in one it is correct, with a dot "com" extension, in one is is incorrect with a dot "dom" extension (which, of course, is the first one I clicked on -- didn't work). Most of the pictures were taken on a cloudy day, and the sky and water are all gray. The best photos are the one of the house from what I assume is the street side with the flowers along the stone fence, and the reflection taken down the length of the veranda, showing the lake reflected in the windows of the house. I would put those two pictures (retake them on a sunny day) at the top of the website (before any verbiage), and I would certainly change the heading to smaller letters, and the name to "Lake Pistakee Home". Location is everything in real estate.

If you are going to editorialize the site, I would suggest that you reorganize your comments so that they have bearing on the picture(s) directly above the editorial, not below. Use less words. Short, succinct phrases about what you are showing the viewer. In the comments at the bottom, perhaps you could put them in a bullet-point list, and cut out the additional verbiage. Since someone looking for a home in your area will probably know about all the towns and lakes around your area, it isn't necessary to tell people that there are "fine old mansions and fabulous art festivals" in Woodstock, etc. And I would put the maps toward the top of the website, since the location seems to be a problem for you and for those who may be looking for your house. I would spend more of my website real estate talking about my (your) location, and less talking about the area and this and that -- your webpage is entirely too long, and takes too much time to find out really important information, i.e., the features of the house are almost at the bottom of the page, but they are the second most important thing a buyer looks for. Additionally, I would not use certain terms in describing my home. For example, you do not need to use the word "almost" when describing the floor to ceiling glass -- it makes it sound as if the glass was meant to be floor to ceiling, but some wires got crossed, and so it only turned out to be "almost." All floor to ceiling glass is "almost." From the outside of the house in your photos, it appears to be all the way from the ground to the soffitt -- which floor to ceiling glass always is.

I would use a professional website, such as singlepropertysites.com or propertysites.com, which are professionally designed websites for an individual property. I would put the house on a virtual tour, using a really good tour company, such as tourfactory.com, virtualtour.com, or visualtour.com. I would use the street address for the website name, or at least the verbiage "Lake Pistakee Home" since buyers aren't interested in your name for the website address. And I would learn how to advertise the website on Google Ads. Instead of telling everything about the area, I would add links to professional sites about things like "the mansions and art festivals in (wherever)." Buyers like information, but right now, they are trying to look at your home and see whether or not it is something they are interested in. If your site offers them a way to get more area information, if they want it, so much the better.

Since one of your best selling points is the tremendous glass outlook to the water, I would be sure that every picture of a room has a view out the window toward the lake, if possible (most of yours do this, but again, it's all gray - make it sunny). Since presumably people who would be interested in your home would also love to know about the dock, put a picture of the dock (and the way to get to it) on your site, usually a board or gravel path. If there is a boat in the dock, so much the better. Add a shot of the path from the dock to the house, too. If it is not your private dock, then don't bother. Link them to a site where the public dock is. When linking to outside sites, always have them open in a separate window, so that the window opens on top of your site and when they leave the linked site, your site is right there again.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what was where in this house. Perhaps you could sketch a floor plan and delineate where things are located, on both levels. For example, where is the garage located? And what does the custom workshop look like -- there should be a picture of that also. Also, how does the living room relate to the front door? It appears to be at the back of the house (toward the lake), so how does one get there from the front door? In doing a tour through the house, except for the outside pictures, it's always best to start with the entrance, and proceed through the house. Gives the potential buyer a great perspective as to whether the house is suitable for him/her. Additionally, you might consider repainting the entrance door to a lighter, brighter color, or even a green or yellow color to make the house appear inviting from the street. The monotone of dark brown doesn't show off the entrance very well. Consider putting up a really stunning light fixture for a porch light and adding an urn to each side of the door spilling over with bright (hot pink) flowers or more lilies to match those at the street. (Keep the light on, daylight or dusk, ala "We'll keep the light on for you" - Tom Beaudet for Motel 6). When the house is being shown in the evening, please leave all the lights on before you clear out, so that the Realtor showing it doesn't have to look ridiculous looking all over for the light switches, and so that it looks like an occupied home, rather than a vacant property.

Buyers are intimidated from really looking at a home when the owner is present. You may not think so, but research would prove you wrong. Just because you are an expert on your own home, does not mean you need to be present to give chapter and verse of the property. The Realtor may also be intimidated by you, and may not want to state any selling points in front of you -- possibly from fear of upsetting you or making a mistake. When the owner is home, buyers want to get in, get out and get on their way, and chances are, they won't be buying from you. You should leave the property well before the time of the scheduled appointment, and if you can't for some reason, you should leave as soon as they knock on the door, by opening it, letting them in, welcoming them, and then vamoosing immediately. Don't hang around waiting to see if anyone has a question for you -- don't offer to hang around to answer questions. If they start asking you questions, excuse yourself by courteously asking them to make a list for their Realtor of questions about the property, and ask the Realtor to give you a call, saying you will be happy to answer any and all questions after they have a chance to look at the entire property.

It's a beautiful house -- and could be really stunning with just a few small changes: Open the market umbrella and set the table with really lovely place settings and placemats in bright colors--make it look like someone is really using it for a party. Maybe have something cooking on the bar-b (with some smoke emanating). The same with the screen porch table and the dining table -- set them up with some bright colors like dinner is just around the corner (figuratively speaking) or drinks are being served in the screen porch. The small flower arrangements I saw throughout the house are okay, but not designed to make the best of the room. They need to be bigger, more important, and more colorful. Your object is for the photos to get people interested in actually calling their Realtor to make an appointment to see it in person.

Probably MOST people don't really care about "midcentury modern", or even know what it is, and except to a select few, it might not be a selling point to have at the top of the site. It is evident from the pictures for those to whom this would be a great selling point.

Since most of your rooms are monotone -- i.e., DARK, browns, tans, beiges with sepia art and black and white art -- I would put some color points in each of them -- a beautiful, professionally-made important-looking artificial flower arrangement in colors that compliment your color scheme -- oranges, reds, yellows, and of course greens, and if the photos reflect a blue sky or blue lake, bright blues. Bright yellow towels and floor mats in the bathroom, or bright blue towels and mats (the turquoise towels in the main bathroom are kind of lost with the white and black covering them). Add lots of accent pillows to the bedrooms, and the living areas -- you have a lot of hard surfaces (and minimalist furniture) which makes the house appear more institutional than it needs to be and it might be better if it were softer looking. So soften it up. Drape a beautiful, colorful soft looking throw over the end of a chair or couch, with a pair of reading glasses and an open book, as if someone has been reading there, but has left for just a minute and will be back soon.

Showpoint the kitchen. Every woman wants a house that has a wonderful kitchen. Get some artificial or live fruit and set it in a stunning bowl on the counter. Put an artificial or fresh loaf of French bread on a cutting board with a knife. Throw a bright-colored towel or two on the countertop, as if someone is right there cooking. Put a pot or two on the stove with some cooking implements (stirring spoon or spatulat) nearby. Take some closeups of the stove and dishwasher, as well as the sink and the faucet. Have some living things there, such as a head of lettuce that is just waiting to be washed.

Make it look like someone lives there and loves this house. All of the color points in the rooms on your site are muted colors, and while restful for you, maybe not designed to get a buyer's heart pumping! You need to make your photos and your rooms POP!

Hope this helps you -- not intended to criticize your website or your home, just to offer some help. Good luck as you continue to market your home. And please stop bashing real estate brokers and the NAR. You haven't met nearly all of the Realtors who work hard every day, and who do an excellent job most of the time. Some don't. You may not have met the right one for you, yet!
By Valerie Littrell,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 10:54
Great article, Tara. Thanks for sharing and allowing us to share. I always enjoy reading your post.
By Mditlove,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 12:23
To Tracy Howard,

Thank you for your critique of both my photographs and my website and taking the time and trouble to analyze them and give me your insight.

Since you did take that trouble, it makes me think to ask the opinions of other expert realtors as well as buyers and other sellers: http://www.ditlovehouse.com

But to clear the air as far as my "realtor and NAR bashing", they are one and the same: National Association of Realtors = NAR. The issue is that I am on a lake in unincorporated Lake County and because the post office put my address as "McHenry", if you look on a map, you see there is no lake, that McHenry is far from a lake and in a different county than me. I asked both several realtors as well as the NAR and Realtor.com to put the town of Fox Lake, which is not only close to me but on the lake itself and they have all refused which makes me appear to be a liar. My "ex realtor" not only refused to try to change the address and/ or zip code which would have helped people find me, but he even put the wrong school district and other such errors and I had to fight to make him change them. You might say "fire him", but I had a contract.

Just so you understand my feelings.

Michel Ditlove
By Greg Haraksin,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 13:05
Great article Tara. I've been in some homes that the buyers spent only 30 seconds in.
By John Smith,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 13:10
Interesting article
By Mihai Stan,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 08:05
I am a real estate site owner in Romania, and i am following you Tara with all your articles, which are very helpful.


By Christine Kankowski,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 09:14
Good post, Great info. Thanks
By Dallas Homes for Sale,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 10:02
Great article... Every buyer has different style of looking properties. Some of them look around more and spend more time but the others just want to see it really fast. Nice and clean homes wins most of the time. http://www.dallashomelist.com
By Tonya Hurt,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 10:52
Great article Tara. I also detest when agents take winter photos of homes and keep those photos up on into the spring. Agents, don't be lazy!! Go out and take new photos in the spring when everything is green again and in bloom. In addition to that, if agents hold an open house in, say December, make sure to remove that remark from the public right away. Buyers see that a home had an open house in Dec and now it is April they think the house has been on the market for a long time, what is wrong with it? They will pass it by on their search. Looking for a top notch Realtor with attention to detail? Tonya Hurt in the Portland, OR area. 503.413.0565 http://www.tonyahurt.com
By Ron Harmon,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 11:25
Thanks for your great detail Tara to numerous on-going problematic issues that your client, the seller, always pays for in the end, not to mention loss of time and money for the agent.
By Lisa Manley-Jeffers,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 14:01
Great article and I too think that many seller are unrealistic about home pricing. They are just not getting it and for some reason, do not believe their agent. This article really is a good tool. Thank you.
By Carl Medford,  Sun Feb 27 2011, 08:30
Good info - here is a post that addresses the issues from the Seller's perspective ...

Top 15 Things A Listing Agent Won’t Tell Sellers … (But REALLY Should …)
By Alicia Stukes,  Mon Feb 28 2011, 06:50
This is a GREAT article and I just experienced the smelly and junky home yesterday while out with a client. Needless to say the client did not go pass the livingroom before saying let's get out of here thus not seeing the rest of the house.
By Matthew Krenitsky,  Mon Feb 28 2011, 12:47
Good post. Very informative for sellers.
By Connie Carlson,  Mon Feb 28 2011, 19:26
You are spot on. Everyone has a horror story to tell but I like to share the Success Stories. Like Ron and Linda in Marietta, Ga who followed all of these suggestions and sold their home for $10k more than asking price and in only 6 days. Check out their story at http://www.LivingInCobb.com.
The Connie Carlson Team, Keller Williams West Cobb
By Pat Baker,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 05:58
Thanks you for the great post and guide for sellers. The over pricing is the worst. How to kill a sale.
By Kathleen Koulouris,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 06:08
I will use this advise. My clients will love it too. http://www.tonyrobinosellshomes.com
By Dennish643,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 06:11
Very good information indeed. Needs to be distributed.
Dennis Handa
By Mike Morgen,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 06:31
This was a great article and very timely as our market is starting to heat up a little. Spring is just around the corner here in Wisconsin and I am seeing sellers coming out of the woodwork very determined to get their homes sold this year. Good to see and I like the focus. Any things they can do to get that sale right now are very important.

Mike Morgen
By Boyd Burks,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 06:54
Great article, maybe this will help move some of the inventory.
By Yuri Epshteyn,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 07:27
Awesome right to the point! :)
By Alecia Williams,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 07:55
Excellent post!!! I totally agree.
By Gail R. Buck,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 08:19
Great article, thank you for these tips!
By Michael Cohen,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 08:32
What a great article! Certainly these are hurdles I've had to jump many times. Seller's are often their own worst enemy and they don't even know it.

Michael Cohen
Prudential Advantage Real Estate
By Sally Stribling,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 08:34
I very much enjoyed this post. If eevry seller could read this , internalize it, and act accordingly, they would accelerate the proecess of getting thier home sold and avoid additional price depreciation that has walked hand in hand with the days on market timeline over the past three years. Particularly important is the clealiness, clutter and NO SMOKING!! Which is the biggest turn of of all!
By Robin Brooks -,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 08:44
Hi Tara,

Thanks for the post. You would think these would be common sense right??

Robin Brooks
By Tsehai Abate,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 09:57
Hello! Tara, Thank you for your professional advise. I will forward your article to my sellers prospects. I had experienced the above mentioned incident that the seller who told my buyers to take off their shoes with an embarassing attitude. The husband waited out side and the wife went in and never return. Thank you again
By Ellie Shorb,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 11:47
I agree with your excellent post, Tara. If a property puts its best face forward (good staging, lighting, clean/fresh...) and if it is also "action priced" to motivate buyers to tour it and choose it, the property will sell. Simple. Thank you for putting it so well.
By Linda Lohman,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 11:55
A buyer's market is a price war and a beauty contest.
By Pamela Mac,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 11:56
Great post, Tara, but I wish you'd advised Sellers to either invest in a local professional home stager or emailed "The Cyber-Stager" â„¢ for expert advice on their personal listing photos and they can Stage to SELL faster and for money! I've seen those horrendous pictures you referred to above. That's why I'm here!

By Patti Lyles,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 12:05
I printed this out and posted it in my office. GREAT POST
By James Roberson,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 12:15
This will be handy to give to Sellers. Since it comes from another source instead of my agents, it will re-inforce what we have told them previously. Thanks.
By Sharon Tudor Isler,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 12:28
Thankis, Tara. Another great article. I'm going to use in my listing presentation (credits to you, of course). Sellers just need to hear these points over and over and from someone other than their agent!
By Ron & Diana Dahlberg,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 13:18
Well written article Tara! I will be sure to share with some of my Sellers! --Diana
By Trish Flynn,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 13:27
Thank you for your great information. I will be sure to share it with my sellers!
By Audry Wolff,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 13:29
One of the best written articles I've seen on Trulia. This really cuts to the heart of the matter. Sellers need to get real if they hope to succeed.
By Roger Kinnaman,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 14:14
Thanks for sharing for the good information. I will share this. Plus sit update my thoughts on how to talk with sellers.
By Suzzanne E Medina,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 15:53
True that! Good advise for sellers to keep those buyers interested.
By Rocio Davis,  Tue Mar 1 2011, 23:26
I totally agree, I will be using it in my listing presentation
Thank you, Tara
By Barbara,  Wed Mar 2 2011, 04:52
I think we have all dealt with the stalker sellers. They don't realize by giving too much info they are turning the buyer away from the property.
By Paul A. DiSegna,  Wed Mar 2 2011, 16:39
Thanks Tara
Great info
By TerriVellios.Com,  Thu Mar 3 2011, 07:49
Tara, as always, you give excellent-clear advice. I too have gone into a completely new remodeled kitchen and they put in pink marble in the kitchen, and the entire house had marble tile floors. My client passed on that one and purchased another house, with warmer tones and wood floors. One of my peeves about photos, please completely close the lid to the toilet, not only in photos, but when the house is being shown. And, protect the children from internet, don't photograph them playing on their beds. People and pets should not be in the real estate photos.
By Mott Kornicki,  Thu Mar 3 2011, 08:22

There are so many things to do, not to and must do or not do when selling or renting a property. Very often- sellers and owners get in the way of progress. Let the buyer breathe- give them space and do not try to guide towards or away from what they want to see.

By Brian Teach, Realtor- CDPE,  Thu Mar 3 2011, 08:37
I love this one! A post worth sharing, Thank you!
By Shari Telford,  Fri Mar 4 2011, 12:49
Tara, thanks again for a timely article. In this present market it's extremely tough to break through the sellers' perception of the "specialness" of their home. I plan to use your article (with proper acknowledgement, of course) in all of my potential listing appointments. So much better to be upfront with the sellers and get it all out on the table before they become disillusioned and look for someone to blame when their house is still on the market 6 months later!
By Shari Telford,  Fri Mar 4 2011, 12:50
Tara, thanks again for a timely article. In this present market it's extremely tough to break through the sellers' perception of the "specialness" of their home. I plan to use your article (with proper acknowledgement, of course) in all of my potential listing appointments. So much better to be upfront with the sellers and get it all out on the table before they become disillusioned and look for someone to blame when their house is still on the market 6 months later! ..
By Voices Member,  Sun Mar 6 2011, 09:29
Boy what great advice. It is amazing how many houses I go into that are not staged. You live in it in one way and sell it another way.
By Rita Legan,  Sun Mar 6 2011, 11:05
Great Post. In today's market it is a "Beauty Contest". Q-Tip Clean is very important because it speaks to condition; so dust off the Furnace and top of the Hot Water Tank!
By Xaviergomez,  Sun Mar 6 2011, 23:27
Generally I do not post on articles, but I would like to say that this blog really forced me to do so! Thanks, really nice blog.

By Aaron Mtuanwi,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 04:21
It's true.
A move-in ready home sells higher and faster than one that is crowded and shabby.
By Jan Milstead,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 06:22
As always - very insightful and a pleasure to read...
By Carla Freund,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 18:01
Tara - Great Post!
By The Mills Team,  Wed Mar 9 2011, 13:05
Right on the spot! Great post, Tara!
By Linda Urbick,  Wed Mar 9 2011, 18:56
Tara - right on. Pictures that do not match the property leave everyone disillusioned - especially me. Previewing properties on the MLS only to go the property and one thinks - where did they take those pictures that I saw. This is not the same property.
By Tamara Schuster Broker, Agent,  Thu Mar 10 2011, 10:18
Tara, Thanks so much for sharing. I really appreciate all the information you share.
By Douglas Trudeau,  Thu Mar 10 2011, 14:11
Great poost. I can relate to everything you say. Thanks for the refresher.
By Sarah Klamm,  Sat Mar 12 2011, 19:23
Nice article...oh the things we see!
By L,  Mon Mar 14 2011, 16:20
We are selling our home after 14 years of fantastic memories! I read this article with great interest and listened to the advice. http://www.1512andreadrive.wordpress.com to see our home or google 1512 Andrea Drive - Bethel Park, PA
By Craig Schaid,  Wed Mar 16 2011, 08:11
As usual, GREAT JOB!

A great read and a great pass along!

By Brian Petrelli,  Tue Mar 22 2011, 15:36
Great Post.

I've had waaaayyyy too many Stalker Sellers ;)
By Scottsdalescott,  Tue Mar 29 2011, 13:21
Loved this post! I think I saw the listing with the dog doing his business in the yard! Real classy photo. It only served the purpose of making the property listing memorable for all the wrong reasons.
By Doug Francis,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 04:48
I tell my clients to understand that it isn't their house anymore... and it allows them to shift their mind set a bit and wrap their head around the "selling" of the home.
By Karen Skaar,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 04:54
As a listing agent ,I just loved this post and it is so hard to be brutally honest with people about decluttering when it is their FAVORITE THINGS and family heirlooms . Prepacking is a great idea !
By emcsqard,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 05:04
Another recycled article written by a Realtor, only to be seconded by other Realtors (who rank down there with used car salespeople). Enough of this already. You hate seller stalkers, we know that a thousand times by now. So why don't you just tell the sellers (you're working for) who you seem to have so much criticism for and distaste so much, not to stalk. Simple enough!!! 5-6% commission is robbery.
By Crystal Tost,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 07:31
I have lots of seller tips at http://www.calgarylistings.com/sellers I think that information is key, be sure to take a look at the videos to help you stage your property before you sell.
By Patrick Quinn,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 09:58
Insightful, thank you.
By Andy Capelluto,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 16:50
You're spot on there Tara. Smell is the first thing prospective buyers notice as they enter a home. Eliminating odors from a home is part of depersonalizing the home. Every home listed must be scrupulously clean. Dirt puts off a buyer faster than anything else. Wage war on grime and dirt and especially bad smells! Malodorous aromas may not only cause potential buyers to cut short their visit to a home, but also suggest to the buyer that these odors may indicate bigger problems such as mold or rot. Consider that potential buyers might be totally put off by the idea of having to spend days and days cleaning a dirty home before even thinking of unpacking boxes and settling in. Many a time we’ve come up against cat litter boxes in the kitchen. Cigarette, food and pet odors are definitely unacceptable. Today there are products and tools today that can help deal with severe odor problems.
Andy Capelluto
By Jen Butel,  Thu Mar 31 2011, 21:54
Very helpful information! I have had so many buyers ask me if the owner's were going to be home because it made them so uncomfortable. Many of my buyers are uncomfortable looking in cupboards to check for storage space even when the owner's are gone, when they're home it is impossible for a buyer to see themselves in the home.
By Richard Recuset,  Fri Apr 1 2011, 02:55
Fantastic article. Great writing. Thank you!
By Anita Stoltzfus,  Fri Apr 1 2011, 11:23
Very true! Great read!

Anita Stoltzfus
By Kevin Brisky,  Fri Apr 1 2011, 11:58
Thanks for the great post Tara!
By Jodi Vetter,  Fri Apr 1 2011, 12:22
We are buying a home, and one thing I might add is look at price per square foot when pricing your home. In the area we are looking at homes are priced between $88-$120/sq ft. Anything over $120/sq ft, is off our list, unless it has a swimming pool or another additions that may make it worth that much. There are houses that are sitting on the market for over a year, just because they are not realistic in pricing.
By Tamara Schuster Broker, Agent,  Fri Apr 1 2011, 19:16
Thank you Tara, this post is great to share and well said!
By Brenda Feria,  Mon Apr 4 2011, 17:17
Tara, Great information. Well stated.
By Robin Ricker,  Tue Apr 5 2011, 08:39
Well thought out post, good job!
By Steve Hansen,  Wed Apr 6 2011, 09:57
Great blog article. I especially like the 'stay at home' seller comment. This is so true, especially for the FSBO seller that just can not leave.
By Doug Reynolds,  Fri Apr 8 2011, 10:20
A smelly house will do it for sure, Tara. I've been dealing with one of those for a few months now...
By Max Sabo,  Sat Apr 9 2011, 20:32
Great list! I have to say that " Irrational seller expectations " is a big issue.
By Derrick Sakai,  Mon Apr 11 2011, 06:30
Excellent post! Thank you!
By Wade Billiot,  Mon Apr 11 2011, 17:51
This is my first time on here to read post and comments.... I will read this site everyday before anythging else... TARA YOU ROCK !!!!
By David Akram,  Tue Apr 12 2011, 08:35
Excellent article, thank you for sharing.
By Helen Oliveri,  Tue Apr 12 2011, 09:53
Great tips Tara.
By Painterman,  Tue Apr 12 2011, 10:01
to jackie lewis. tell them to get the home painted clean carpet and furniture. i paint homes for a living and smoking not only stinks but yellows your walls and requires priming them in bad situation to block out the stain the nicotine leaves
By Leesa Sandoval,  Tue Apr 12 2011, 11:08
Tara this is a great post! I do mortgages and so many times clients will say "oh the sellers upgraded the home..but not to our liking." The seller could just sell as is and let the buyers rehab to there liking with one of the great rehab programs that are available. Would make both sides so much happier!!
By Referralagents.org,  Thu Apr 14 2011, 06:45
Nice post Tara. Your tips should help sellers prepare their property for sale in this buyer's market.

By Jacqueline Sexton,  Fri Apr 15 2011, 16:56
So true! What a fantastic approach to helping sellers prepare for a successful sale!
By John Walin,  Sat Apr 16 2011, 14:43
good post
By Gus Pishue,  Tue Apr 19 2011, 10:54
Great info! Thanks.
By Wajiha Adnan Pasha,  Wed Apr 20 2011, 09:05
Great info Folks! Thanks alot.
By James Miele,  Mon Apr 25 2011, 06:55
Thank you for the post had some great info!
By Annette Lawrence 727.420.4041,  Thu Apr 28 2011, 14:11
Tara a great reminder post.
Brand new blue carpet! Brand new tile kitchen counter tops! I was in that house too! Yep, and it was priced 'other worldly.'

@Kirsten - Now THAT is legendary!
@ Mditlove - I agree, sometimes the agent just needs to do whatever it takes to get the job done! If the owner won't pick up and declutter I'll do it. IF they live a unmanaged life, I really need to be there before the buyers arrive to control what they may see! For those homes with tangible assets that can go unnoticed by a buyer, it is crucial for the listing agent to be present and conduct the first walk-through. As a listing agent I would have a comprehensive list of the improvement and the benefits the owner has reported. I would ask the owner to not be present. The only exception would be, 'Listen in and let me know if I've presented the facts accurately."

Great info from Tara and all those who took the time to type in a few suggestions.
By Brian Petrelli,  Fri May 6 2011, 11:06
Great tips. Thanks for the article.
By Susan Baney CSP, GRI,  Thu Jun 16 2011, 16:49
Great article. Sellers tend to blame the listing agent for their house not selling. Listing a house that does not sell is not why I am in the business.
By Fernando Aramburu,  Mon Oct 17 2011, 16:13
Great post, keep the good work. This is specially applicable for Mexico, where the owner of the property is always at home during the showings! http://www.MyFriendFernando.ca
By Sun Realty - Graham Ginsberg,  Thu Nov 3 2011, 07:14
Hey Tara, how come your blog pages rank so high? I know they're good, but I write some doozies too - lol
By Tanncharle,  Fri Dec 30 2011, 06:19
As a potential buyer I have run into the stalking seller. I also had an agent who told the seller, who asked if we wanted to see the garage, "no". If I'm going to purchase a house, I want to see everything that comes with the house including the garage. Needless to say, I was completely turned off and didn't want to see anymore of the home, which by the way was beautiful. I also viewed a house that was so cluttered with the owners belongings that I couldn't see the wall or floors. Along with the house reeking of dog it was dirty. There is a house on the market in an area I want to move to. There is one picture posted for the listing and it shows only the front of the house which has a lot of sun glare, so you really don't see the house and they did not use a zoom lens. The picture is horrible and the price is ridiculous. I wish there were pictures of the inside of the home listed. Big turn off.
By rsjetton,  Sat Dec 31 2011, 01:18
By rsjetton, Sat Dec 31 2011, 01:06
As a seller, the problem I have is with my realtor--she just wants to list the house, put a sign with brochures at the street, put some photos on the internet and then disappear. Until the listing expires and she wants me to sign a new contract, I don't ever see or hear from her again. I want HER to qualify the buyer with the buyer's agent. Don't ask me to waste my time showing the house to a buyer who "just wants to get an idea of the area homes" and can't qualify for a loan in my price range. I want HER to arrange the showing time. I'll get the house clean, turn on all the lights, put the toilet lids down, have the home show ready and leave, but I want HER at my home to greet the buyer and give them a brochure when they arrive. And, I want HER to turn off the lights after the buyer has left. I want HER to be here to control the buyer (and his unruly toddler) during the showing (No, the buyer is not allowed to look in my dresser drawers when he is here--the oven, the closets, the kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator that goes with the house, are all OK, but stay out of my personal furniture.) I want HER to be knowledgeable about the selling features of my home and be available to answer the buyer's questions. I want HER to follow-up with the buyer's agent.

Realtors, don't just list the house and then disappear until the listing expires and you want the seller to sign a new contract. I am completely able to hire a professional photographer to take some photos and load them on to the internet with a flat fee listing broker. As buyers we are frustrated with the lack of service from realtors and that is why there is such a huge increase in the number of FSBOs. I really don't want to try to sell my home myself. Its a complex job and it is a lot of work. I am willing to pay for the service of a realtor and I want a professional realtor to sell my house, but please, EARN YOUR COMMISSION!
By Gwen Janicki,  Mon Jan 2 2012, 04:07
Great information as always! I am a stickler when it comes to great photos and staging a home to sell, so this piece will make a great pre-listing tool. I've seen an up-tick in the number of sellers (not mine, thank goodness) who want to be there to try to sell their home's features.
By Barry Magee,  Sat Feb 4 2012, 17:25
There is nothing worse than a stalkerish seller, no one wants to be pushed into buying a home!

Barry Magee
By Nancy Rothrock,  Wed Feb 29 2012, 10:51
The comment about postings with no addresses is also a pet peeve of mine. It is simply a lead generator for the lazy.

I can put a picture of a home style that is in demand and cut the real price by $20-50k and generate leads all day long...but, it is WRONG and Lazy for posters to do that. Trulia should endeavor to protect the quality of the information provided. If you are going to do it, do it right and do it well!

Also, I would like to see the current articles come up, I am exploring Trulia today and I am getting prompted to read articles from 2009!!!!! A LOT has changed since then!

Love your posts Tara!~Nancy Rothrock, Oceanside Sales and Rentals, boomerhomebuyer.com
By Steven Lawrence,  Wed Feb 29 2012, 11:29
Very helpful.

Don't forget the land mines in the back yard if you have a dog!
By homebuyer,  Tue Mar 6 2012, 13:42
I think it's helpful for a real estate agent to take sellers to a couple of well staged local homes for sale or model homes to convey the message to a seller of what a home should look like to sell and sell at as high a price as possible. Many sellers have not been (recently) to a decorated model home.

Ask the seller how they think their home compares to the staged home/model, and what improvements they think should be made to their own home to reduce clutter, shine it up and improve it before selling. Let the seller make their own notes. (It's psychological). This way, the reality and acknowledgement of what needs to be done comes from the seller (like it's their idea)...not the real estate agent telling the seller what should be done and it sounding like a dictatorship. It's always good if people can come to their own conclusions -even if it's partially. Agents can always fill in the missing details and add their professional ideas. What do you all think?
By Shaun,  Sun Apr 15 2012, 16:51
I find it's super important to let my clients know what buyers are expecting to see when then view a home. Most people get very compfortable with their surroundings, and don't think about what an outside visitor might think about the appearance of their home.

Shaun - http://allcalgaryrealestate.ca
By Recoveryless Recovery,  Mon Apr 16 2012, 17:52
The 6 **REAL** Things That Turn Home Buyers Off :

1) Unreasonably high prices
2) Unreasonably high prices that are completely out-of-sync with present-day earnings & salaries
3) Unreasonably high prices that are only affordable thanks to FHA-sponsored loans for DEADBEATS.
4) Unreasonably high prices for houses that have nowhere to go but DOWN moving forward.
5) Unreasonably high prices that are unreasonably high no matter WHAT BS the NAR tries to field.
6) Unreasonably high prices for houses that are located in a country (the USA) which is C-O-L-L-A-P-S-I-N-G as we speak.
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By Voices Member,  Fri May 31 2013, 13:41
I have worked very hard with my past writing but It doesn't come close to how excellent your writing is.

David | http://www.millstores.com/category.cfm?cattype=1
By Voices Member,  Wed Jun 19 2013, 12:38
Do these really turn off buyers and sellers?? That is amazing! Great insights, Tara!

David | http://www.earlytimeshomesolutions.com/dupage/dupage-chimney-cleaning.html
By kirksharon14,  Sun Dec 15 2013, 06:11
Good inputs for homeowners who would like to sell houses on their own.

If you don't have the time to prepare your house for the sale, contact Lucas Properties. They are a private investor and they buy houses in any condition anytime.

Lucas Properties
We buy houses, lands, & commercial buildings with cash.

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