Showing your home to prospective buyers — and their agents — is a critical step in getting it sold. MLS® System listings are an important starting point, but until I see, smell, touch and FEEL a property up close and personal, I’m not convinced of anything. Neither are buyers. One can surf properties on the Internet all day long, but ultimately, no boots (on the ground) means no buyers.
In addition to holding open houses, a big part of our job as REALTORS® is to preview listings, lots of them. In Lethbridge, real estate agents preview homes by way of agent-only open houses, usually held on a weekday. These “broker opens” or “inspections” are critical to helping REALTORS® understand local inventory and correlating market values.
Needless to say, I’ve seen it all. Yet I never cease to be STUNNED by how some homes are presented. If a home shows badly at a broker open, what will I be walking into if I show the home to a buyer client? Yikes!
So, the following is a personal rant that I’ve held in for as long as I could. The end of the year is as good a time as any to get real about where we can do better, as real estate agents AND homeowners trying to sell houses in Lethbridge. Here are my Top 10 Open House Fails for 2012!
- Junkety-junk-junk: Whether you have three zillion papers on the counter, 37 magnets on the fridge, or a bedroom filled to the roof with piles of who-knows-what, a house full of junk looks like … junk. No one wants to find out what lies beneath either. Clean up the stuff you can live without (yes, all of it) and store it. Preferably offsite.
- Drenched in stench: If the mere whiff of Crayola crayons harkens you back to your childhood, consider how the whiff of a stinky bathroom or even just last night’s meal impacts buyer and REALTOR® psychology. The only smell present should be something simple and pleasant, or Mr. Clean. Any other aroma will likely offend.
- Dirty, dirty humans: I think it’s fair to say that, of all the species on Earth, humans are by far the filthiest. Not only do the outside elements find their way into our homes, but our day to day lives simply perpetuate ickiness. Clean every surface you can think of. Then keep it that way. (And for Heaven’s sake, put the toilet lids down.)
- Pet perceptions: Pets are treasured members of the family, but their food, their toys, their litter boxes, and their hair make a home seem … dirty. Whether your home really is dirty doesn’t matter. Your pets also shouldn’t greet people at the door any more than you should as the homeowner.
- Snooty marketing: If you expect 24 hours notice, expect less showings. Buyers (and their agents) may not have the time or inclination to wait even that long to see a home. Does that suck? Yes it does. Do you want to sell your home? Then get boots on the ground and into your house, even on short notice.
- Personal photos: This is just AWKWARD for everyone who comes through your home. I’ve had buyers fall in love with a home, then see family photos on the wall and suddenly feel self conscious about “intruding” on someone’s privacy. Rest assured, your children are just as adorable when photos of them are put in a drawer.
- Weird people stuff: Humans aren’t just stinky and dirty, they’re messy. And sometimes strange. Put your personal things away, whether it’s deodorant, laundry, or other unmentionables. I don’t wanna see it, and neither will my buyers. Enough said.
- Romper Room paint colors: Why oh why do people put wacky colors on their walls? Oh wait, the answer to that question doesn’t matter because buyers don’t care that YOU thought baby-vomit green was a perfectly vogue choice for the living room. Paint over bright walls with a
boringcalming neutral and create a clean canvas for potential buyers.
- Enter at your own risk: If I’m reluctant to take my shoes off at the door because the floors are icky, the rest of the house could be the Taj Mahal and I probably won’t like it. Make sure the door works and is clean, and that after I walk in I have a place to put my shoes and keys. Subtle but appreciated.
- Vacant and vapid: Empty homes feel, well, empty! They also seem ignored and desperate. Not exactly a boost to perceived value. This dynamic is important to BOTH resale homes and brand spanking new spec homes. Staging can be as easy as adding simple, well-placed furniture and judiciously chosen accessories. Buyers can’t feel the love if the house is UNLOVED.
Ah, that was cathartic! But I also hope it was helpful.
Did you notice a theme here? You and your real estate agent must work as a team to ensure your house appeals to buyers. The most talented REALTOR® in the world can’t hit a home run if your home shows poorly. If you’re not sure what to do or where to start, ask!
Bottom line: if you’re trying to sell your house in Lethbridge, put yourself in the shoes of a buyer agent trying to show clients the very best properties for their needs. Then put yourself in the shoes of a BUYER. What would YOU want to see, feel, touch and smell when you walked into your next home?