Entice buyers by avoiding these 4 common turnoffs.

You love your home. You’ve made lots of happy memories there and put time and energy into decorating and furnishing. But when you need to sell your home and it sits on the market for weeks, with no one seemingly interested? Baffling.

Rather than dwell on what’s wrong with your home, take a hard look at the good, the bad, and the unpleasant — so that you can incorporate changes to sell your home faster.

The best thing to do is take action. Ask the people who’ve viewed your home what they thought. Ask your real estate agent to email surveys that prospects can complete anonymously, or keep surveys on-site at open houses. Gather feedback about what’s great — and what’s not.

You may not agree with everything potential buyers say about your home, but this is a business transaction. Keep an open mind when it comes to selling – the customer is usually right.

While you’ll want to collect specific feedback on your home’s stumbling blocks, you should keep in mind that there are four common things sellers overlook that are total turnoffs for buyers. Addressing these buyer turnoffs could be the key to get your home off the market quickly.

The Four Keys to Selling Your Home Faster

  1.  Keep Your Home Tidy. Toys scattered about the floor, heaps of unfolded laundry hanging around, neglected piles of mail and receipts on top of the dresser — all of these things give an impression that your home hasn’t been kept in the best order. Clutter also suggests a lack of sufficient storage space. Purge your home of unnecessary belongings before buyers start looking through it. Cull your handbag collection; sell exercise equipment on eBay or Craigslist; donate a few bags of old clothes to the Salvation Army.
  2. Update Outdated décor. Floral wallpaper in the bedroom … popcorn ceilings … wood paneling on the walls … brass doorknobs. These are a few of a buyer’s least favorite things. Certain décor elements are red flags and scream “outdated”. Buyers aren’t interesting in spending even more time and money to bring their new home into the modern era. Spending thousands on a remodel is unnecessary when there’s easy and affordable kitchen updates for your budget. Simply swapping brass knobs and hinges for a chrome or satin-nickel finish, or painting the wood paneling white can be a quick fix. These improvements can cost less than $100 and make a massive difference in the way your home shows to buyers.
  3. Clean Up After Your Pets. If a prospective buyer walks out immediately after a sniff test, you may have found your problem. You may love your three cats and five dogs, but the smell left behind from your furry friends could be keeping buyers at bay — or worse, triggering allergic reactions. Even if you have only one pet, it can be surprising how you’ve become accustomed to their unique odor. Get your carpets (and furniture, if need be) professionally steam cleaned to remove the animal smells. (Remember: just because you can’t smell your pets doesn’t mean the house is scent-free.) Dust and clean places where fur tends to hide, such as baseboards, small cracks, and room corners. Keep all pets and pet accessories out of sight during showings. You may even want to hire a home cleaning company to vacuum the air vents and HVAC returns; pet fur can get trapped in these places, triggering allergic reactions.
  4.  Create a Blank Canvas for Buyers. You want buyers to envision themselves living in your home. But that’s hard to do when they can’t get past your kids’ artwork on the fridge or the purple leopard-print sofa in the living room. Start depersonalizing your home to create more of a blank canvas for the buyers’ imagination. That doesn’t mean your home should be empty but it does require removing any abstract artwork or questionable décor. When ready for viewing, your home should reflect a neutral, universal taste. Try to create a clean, professional look. Yes, you might personally think beige walls are boring, but your goal isn’t to satisfy yourself — it’s to appeal to a wide audience. Stripping away the things that made your home yours can be difficult, but remember that it’s no longer your home now. It’s time to hand it over to new owners who will love it in their own way.

Have any other tips for getting your home ready to sell? Share in the comments below!

About the author

Paula Pant
Paula Pant is an award-winning journalist specializing in personal finance, investing, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She’s a former deputy news editor of the Colorado Daily.

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