You know all about staging, right? And of course you tell your clients how to declutter their closets and counter tops by following the old 50% rule.
Great ideas, and absolutely necessary of course. But it’s not enough. There are hidden turn-offs lurking everywhere, in almost every house you might list. Keep a sharp eye out, and if you spot any of these stumbling blocks, advise your clients to get rid of them, pronto.
- Family pictures. I’ve had many clients who strongly resisted my suggestion to remove all their family photos from walls, mantles, and refrigerator doors. “We want buyers to know that a happy family lives here,” one client told me. That sounds all warm and fuzzy, but guess what? Your prospective buyer may be a recently divorced single parent and all that happy family stuff will bring up feelings of sadness, resentment, and jealousy–not the happily ever after you were hoping for.
- Political opinions. We all have them, but they don’t belong anywhere near the buying and selling process. Maybe your great-great-grandfather was a Confederate general and you are proud of it. Fine, but don’t display that flag anywhere–not even on a coffee cup. If there’s an election happening, even a local one, ditch the yard signs while the house is on the market.
- Evidence of furry friends. Of course we love our pets. Your buyers may love theirs too, but yours–not so much. Beware of even the faintest litter box smell, and if Fido tends to bark at the slightest disturbance, keep him off the premises when a showing is scheduled. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many homeowners these days keep exotic animals like llamas, monkeys, uncaged birds, and who knows what else? Did you know a llama can spit more than 11 feet? Now there’s a greeting your buyers will remember, and not in a good way. And then there was the homeowner whose seven-foot boa constrictor escaped from his aquarium and greeted buyers at the front door. And we all know what boa constrictors do, don’t we?
- Dead or alive? Not all animals are alive and well. Suppose your seller is a big game hunter, with a trophy wall loaded with elk heads, elephant tusks, and bear skins. If your buyer is an animal rights activist, you can kiss that offer goodbye. Likewise your big game hunter may keep his or her rifles prominently displayed. And a potential buyer happens to be a big player in the gun control movement. It’s best to keep such objects out of sight, just in case there’s a possible conflict of interest.
- Just say “no” to the rah rah rah. So you’re a big sports fan, right? And your collection of Dallas Cowboy or Chicago Cubs memorabilia holds a place of honor in your home. But what if your potential buyers are relocating from New England or Los Angeles? Sure, we should all be good sports, but if loyalties conflict, it could be a turn-off, just the same. Die-hard sports fans have been known to walk away from such a display.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Examine your art work carefully. Religious artifacts may mean a lot to you but could offend a buyer with a different belief system. We’ve seen bathroom wallpaper covered with naked dancers, pornographic statues in the garden, grotesque depictions of death and dying–bare walls or green grass would be better, in most instances.
When you as an agent are advising your client how to prepare for a sale, the advice is simple: Look at your home as though you had never seen it before. If you were a totally different person, what would you want to see? What might you find irritating or offensive?