Anyone who has ever gone house hunting has encountered at least one of these in their search: A house of horror. If it isn’t written on their faces the moment they pull into the driveway, it will be by the time you turn the knob and invite potential buyers inside.
It is understandable if an undesirable home is being sought out by an investor skilled at transforming an ugly house into a profitable gem. The situation is also ideal for DIY enthusiasts who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves. Or, individuals who buy fixer uppers only to tear them down to acquire the land from which to build their dream house. Then, there are the rest of us—traditional buyers who prefer to walk into houses and envision how we can transform them with minor touches. We shouldn’t be tempted to strike a match, throw it, and run out.
If your seller places a buyer-repellant house on the market, we can only imagine what you, the REALTOR® in charge of selling that home, must contend with. The open houses are unfruitful, the ridiculous offers don’t even warrant a response, and yes, the excruciating wait and marketing efforts don’t yield the result you or the homeowners envision.
Hope, however, is not lost. Here are several simple solutions that the sellers can implement to sale their home faster and for a higher price tag.
Turn a once terrible reveal into a great deal.
It is one thing to not have enough bedrooms or bathrooms, a generous backyard, an updated kitchen, and the three-car garage that makes buying the house a deal breaker. However, it is another if the house in question meets all requirements but appears to be in a questionable state, even if nothing is structurally wrong with it.
Sometimes what a buyer can and cannot see causes red flags to emerge. Does the abundance of pet hair or pet smells have them concerned about the cleanliness and the air quality of the home? Are the dingy walls or orange carpeting drawing away from otherwise coveted features like coffered ceiling beams, crown moldings, or original hardwood floors? Does the sight of an overgrown jungle-like backyard and slanted storage shed have them envisioning weekend days spent slaving away just to access the space?
While the age of a home can explain stains and cracks a buyer sees, those details are oftentimes attributed to a lack of proper maintenance. It can be hard for the seller to see and think like the buyer. Since they are accustomed to their way of life, they might not notice the saturated scent of cigarette smoke that lingers on buyers’ clothes even after they emerged from the property hours prior. Although the seller fixed water damage, they might be oblivious to how potential buyers view visible stains and patches as out-of-pocket expenses they will accrue to remedy the situation.
When you meet with your seller to discuss placing the home on the market, be honest with them. Discuss what improvements they can make to not only get top value for their home, but also make someone walk in and fall in love with it so much they are tempted to buy it. They can avoid unnecessary scares with a few smart repairs. The wall patches, dull walls, and dated cabinetry can be livened with fresh paint. The gutters can easily be reattached. The shrubbery can be manicured for curb appeal. The low water pressure can be solved by a skilled plumber. The bathroom tiles can be caulked. If it helps, invite them to see other comparables in their area to see how their house stacks up with one that is nicely presented.
Unclutter the clutter.
Sometimes, it isn’t the house itself that is the problem. As stable as a structure can be, buyers can get the illusion that something is amiss. They instantly chalk any imperfection with unforeseen problems that diminishes their interest in the house or results in a lowball offer. No one wants to feel as if they are standing in a construction site, a hoarder’s haven, or a childcare center gone awry.
Crowded kitchen counters and bathroom vanities tend to signal lack of storage space. This is also true for messy, overpacked closets and cluttered children’s room. Simply put, when a house is listed on the market, it shouldn’t look like it would have belonged in an episode of Clean House.
Time is a commodity, so it is understandable if your sellers are busy people. However, if they are motivated to sell the house, they should also be open to your suggestions. Suggest hiring a home staging professional who can help par down excess items or an experienced organizer who will transform their chaos into an organized system. If space is still an issue, the seller can pack up items not used on a daily basis and relocate any excess furniture into a storage unit while the home is on the market.
While bringing in professionals may be required in some situations, most homeowners would prefer to not spend an arm and a leg each time they turn around. More than likely, your seller will balk at the thought of spending any more money on a property they hope to relinquish themselves from soon. Motivate them with this obvious fact: They can sell faster and for a larger amount if the buyers don’t walk in immediately adding up what they must spend out-of-pocket to bring that property to their livable standards.