Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n11)
The Word on Real Estate - Advice from a Pro: By Clark Giles
posted: Jun. 01, 2007
Ten Costly Mistakes Made By Sellers
Just as there are many things you can do to improve your chances of selling your house at a great price, there are an equal number of things that will drive away potential buyers and leave you scratching your head.
If you are working with a Realtor®, he or she should make suggestions on how to make your particular home more appealing, but following are a few of the most common problems:
1. Odors. The problem with odors, such as cigarette smoke and pet smells, is that you live with them day-to-day and may not notice them. To an outsider, however, the smell will be pungent and noticeable. You can get rid of these odors by smoking outside, keeping litter boxes fresh in a contained area, repainting, steam-cleaning carpets and opening your windows to let in fresh air. Removing odors from mold and mildew can be a little tougher and may require professional intervention if the affected area is not easily accessible.
2. Pets. You love them and think of them as part of the family. Your potential buyer may not share your sentiment, so, like other members of the family, companion animals should not be on-site while someone is inspecting your house. Pile everyone in the family vehicle or crate your pets in the yard so potential buyers can look around without being snarled at. . .
3. Bathrooms are associated with hygiene, so unclean bathrooms are a major turn-off for most buyers. Make sure your toilet, tub and sink are sparkling clean and that the drains are clear and free of wet hair and other debris. Shine your faucets and mirrors, de-clutter the medicine chest, empty the trash pail and launder your towels, shower curtain and floor mats.
4. Dark rooms look dingy and uninviting. Increase the brightness factor of your rooms by adding brighter bulbs, installing extra fixtures, or by placing accent lamps or cabinet lighting throughout the room. An even simpler fix is to pull back the curtains and let the sunshine in.
5. Busy wallpaper is a no-no. Too many patterns can be distracting and can date your décor. Consider removing busy wallpaper, but don't paint over it.
6. Wet basements are a cause for concern as they can indicate foundation leaks. More often, however, damp basements are a sign of poor ventilation, plugged drains, or improperly positioned downspouts. In my experience, musty basements turn potential buyers off more than any other room in the house.
7. Bugs equal instant deal-killers. Clear cobwebs and enlist professional help if you have an infestation.
8. Low curb-appeal can discourage potential buyers from taking a closer look at your home. Spruce up your yard, entry and facade. Make sure your paint isn't peeling and that gardens look their best, even if out of season. An overgrown lawn can cost you more than you might think.
9. Plugged Gutters. Clogged gutters can pull away from your home, damaging your roof and allowing water to run under your sofits. This will surely turn up in a home inspection.
10. Clear out when someone is looking at your house. Potential buyers may feel awkward looking around your house if you are hovering over their shoulder. Working with an agent to sell your home eliminates this problem, as they act as chaperone during the showing without intimidating your buyer.
Most of these fixes are simple and inexpensive to implement, yet can have a major impact on the saleability of your house. If possible, address any of the issues that are present in your home before you list it for sale.