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Trulia Blog

6 Unseen Factors That Are Hurting Your Home Sale

Sometimes it’s not what’s on the inside that counts.

You know you have a flawless home, but it’s been on the market way longer than you, and even your agent, expected. You’ve followed all the how-tos on selling your home, but you can’t seem to pinpoint the problem.

Sometimes it’s not what’s on the inside that counts. Take a peek through your window. The problem may lie out there. Figure out what ails, then make amends before your open houses become ghost towns.

1. Electrical substations

Online real estate forums teem with nervous Nellies fretting about potential electrocution from nearby substations. Though electrical substations do not present a hazard (unless they, um, blow up), they are surrounded by an electromagnetic field that can shock the fearless trespasser — or clueless child.

The key to selling your home is to arm yourself with info to quell those fears. When was the substation built? What is the level of electromagnetic charge? Where are the underground cables? You can even take meter readings of the electric and magnetic fields to prove there’s no danger.

2. Parking difficulties

Maybe you’re sans driveway and street parking is at a premium. Maybe there’s twice-weekly street cleaning that leads to mass ticketing and towing. Or maybe a potential buyer just really, really hates parallel parking.

Parking problems are a deal breaker for many home shoppers. Research alternatives ahead of time, then consider throwing in a first month’s fee to a nearby garage or the cost of a resident parking sticker to sweeten the deal.

3. Lawsuits

Ah, the joys of condo living. Sure, some multiunit buildings experience karmic synergy among owners, leading to communal barbecues and beatific drum circles. But just as often, vertical neighbors get into squabbles. And sometimes, just sometimes, those squabbles lead to lawsuits, which in turn lead to paper trails easily accessed online.

If any legal battles still sit on the books, settle those suckers pronto — and if possible, make everyone sign a nondisclosure agreement.

4. Thin walls and ceilings

Speaking of condo drama, there is perhaps no quicker way to dampen a buyer’s enthusiasm than to have your upstairs neighbor’s 4-year-old clomping around like Sasquatch during your open house.

Less-than-optimal insulation can lead to far-less-than-optimal sound travel. While the quickest solution is to gift your noisy neighbors thick area rugs, barring that, bring in a soundproofing company to assess the most effective ways to mitigate the aural chaos. Blowing in cellulose insulation — a nontoxic alternative to fiberglass — can also have a positive effect, and might lower the next owner’s heating bills as well.

5. Junk-obsessed neighbors

Sure, your front yard is a paean to well-pruned bushes and orderly planting, but that house up the street is an ode to all things dirty, dilapidated, and neglected. A chaotic yard can have a deleterious effect on the neighborhood as a whole and turn off prospective buyers.

You can’t easily force a neighbor to change his junkyard ways, but propose a streetwide cleanup in the hopes that he’ll take some pride in his property. If someone’s yard is a true blight on the neighborhood — we’re talking hoarder-level chaos here — then a call to local government might get a cleanup process started.

6. Noise pollution

You’ve long grown accustomed to the nearby cacophony of trains and construction, but not every potential buyer considers urban clamor to be ambient noise.

If noise is a problem, verse yourself in local noise regulations. If there are any traffic or transport violations (e.g., tractor-trailers on a street posted for light trucks only), contact your local government officials to make sure they’re aware.

For an immediate solution, blackout curtains or sound-absorbing carpet pads can help damp the clamor. Finally, try caulking your windows to seal any gaps that allow outside noise to seep in.