Mary Lynn Stenzel with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz., suggests agents be proactive in discussing with their sellers the cleanliness and presentation expectations for showing appointments upfront. These suggestions are tops on my list too, as I see buyers run from homes when they cannot “visualize” themselves living there…. Seems simple, but makes sense… Here are the 10 most common responses from buyer’s agents when asked about the worst mistakes they see when presenting for-sale homes to clients:
1. Leftover home owners By far, one of the top offenses cited by buyer’s agents was home owners still lingering around when agents arrived with clients to preview the home. Awkward encounters ranged from buyers finding sellers taking a shower, asleep in the bed, to even the “stalker sellers” who liked to follow buyers and the agent all over the home to see what they thought.
2. Pets and their messes Numerous agents also cited the not-so-friendly dog and kitty encounters as a top offense. Even pets left in a crate can pose a distraction since they might make noise the entire time others are in the house. Plus, if they seem mean, the buyer might not even step in the room.
3. Bad smells A displeasing smell can really turn buyers off. Common offenses include cooking smells lingering around the home, such as garlic, fried bacon, or fish. Also, watch for cigarette smoke and animal smells, agents say.
4. Critters running wild Wild animals and pests roaming around is a surefire way to send buyers running. Agents described worms crawling on the floor and bats and raccoons lounging in the attic. “I showed a house in Utah once with a baby alligator/crocodile [in a cage] in the dining room,” Kristi Hutchings, ABR, SFR, with the Wendy K Team The Real Estate Group in Utah.
5. Odd home makeovers Do-it-yourself disasters were also prevalent, like doors opening the wrong way or unprofessional paint jobs. Also, rooms not being used for their intended purposes can confuse buyers, such as an office being used as a bedroom even though it has no closet, says broker Elaine Byrne with Elaine Byrne Realty in Austin, Texas.
6. Dirt and clutter There were a number of offenses cited when it came to cleanliness: Dirty laundry piles, unflushed toilets, dishes on the counter or in the sink, unmade beds, clothes scattered about, soiled carpets, dirty air conditioner filters, and overflowing trash cans.
7. Personal information left in plain sight Sellers should be careful not to leave in plain sight important documents that may pique buyers’ curiosity. Some agents say they’ve seen personal information like bank and credit card statements—even mortgage payoff notices—left on the kitchen counter.
8. Too dark Dark or dimly lit houses aren’t showing the home in the best light.
9. Keys missing from lockboxes All too often, agents arrive at a listing appointment with their client only to find there’s no key to get in. “I actually had a [seller’s] agent who wanted me to open the door for my clients by going through the dog run as a large dog barked like crazy,” says Hutchings.
10. Distracting photos Watch the photos displayed on the walls too, agents warn. Tara Hayes, ABR, e-PRO, with Rector-Hayden, REALTORS®, in Winchester, Ky., recalls showing a family a home that had life-sized, nude photos hanging, which left her clients racing for the door covering their eyes.