The Top 10 RED FLAGS that Send Buyers Running to The Nearest Exit

Today’s qualified buyers expect perfection and are willing to pay for it. They will continue their home search until the residential sales process wears them down and/or they reconcile their wants and needs with their budget and availability and pull the trigger. Instant access to designer MLS photos and videos puts sellers in a difficult position from the get-go – the house must be perfectly presented, both visually and physically, or the buyer will quickly look elsewhere, without apology, and head for the door.

Over the last 15 years I have assessed thousands of homes (both interior and exterior) in order to package them to sell for top dollar, and I know, even in an older home, there are things that can be done to appeal to this new buyer. Yet, many sellers choose to believe that buyers will overlook certain critical issues and focus on the overall value of the house. WRONG. The buyer will equate the “value” of the house with what they “see” and what they see will often create questions about what they DON’T see. These 10 issues a buyer encounter will ALWAYS cause a buyer to pause mid-step in their tour, question the cost to them and potentially head for the nearest exit:

  1. Water Stains or Standing Water
    • Ceiling and wall stains from a bathroom, kitchen, laundry or built-in bar that had a leak and the repairs were not done correctly and the visual evidence of the repair is obvious.
    • Standing water in basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or yards.
  2. Odor
    • Food: fish, curry, onions, grease
    • Pets: dander, urine, feces, litter boxes, animal cages
    • Smoke: cigar and cigarettes
    • Must, mold, mildew and dust
    • Moth balls, old shoes and dirty clothes in closet
  3. Obvious Delayed Maintenance
    • Rotting wood on windows and doors
    • Leaking sky light
    • Peeling paint
    • Large interior wall and ceiling settlement cracks
    • Large exterior cracks in foundation, garage, driveway
    • Exterior stains on brick, siding, roof and chimney
    • Cracked or cloudy glass windowpanes and door glass
    • Unfinished building projects
    • Rotten, broken and falling down fence and outdoor structures
  4. Signs of Rodents, Pests, et al.
    • Rat boxes, mouse traps, obvious feces and urine, roaches, termites,
    • Odor and evidence of infestation inside house in the attic, crawl space, storage, garage and outbuildings
    • Outdoor exterior evidence of termites in wood shingle exterior, and ground abutting the house and fence
  5. Original Kitchen and Bathrooms in Older Homes
    • Small kitchen cabinet size, poor or odd layout, old and mismatched appliances, stylized back splash and cheap counter tops
    • Original tile floor and walls in multi-color design, built in soap dishes, toothbrush holders, glass holder, cracked bath and shower doors, cheap builder faucet and hardware, older toilet
  6. Old, wall-to-wall plush carpet
    • Worn, stained, smelly and non-neutral colored wall to wall carpet covering hardwood floors
  7. Creepy Unfinished Spaces
    • Unfinished basements, attics, storage areas, stairways, doors and windows no longer in use but visually and physically unsecured from exterior
    • Basement utility laundry room with poor to no lighting, cracked flooring, lack of storage space
    • Spider webs, dead bugs, shredded insulation
  8. Old and Broken Lighting
    • Poor light and degraded older interior and exterior fixtures that are not working or with cracked glass panes
    • Oversized ceiling lights and fans, brown ceiling fans, inadequate bedroom, bath and hallway lighting
  9. Brass, Brass and More Brass
    • Shiny yellow builder-grade brass switch plates, lighting fixtures, trim in bathrooms on tub and shower doors, bath fixtures and hardware
  10. Old Wallpaper and Bold Paint Colors
    • Older wallpaper (even if it was expensive) and a kaleidoscope of seller specific wall colors

Any one of these 10 issues may present listing and closing problems for a seller, who wants to sell for top dollar and maximize the value of their asset. If your house has 2 or more of the above issues, I suggest that you purchase SMART MOVES and complete the interior and exterior house assessment (starting on page 24) in order to understand how you are sabotaging the sale of your own house and what you can do to fix it.

Prepare yourself financially, emotionally and physically for the next home transition. Read more in my book: SMART MOVES: How to Save Time and Money While Transitioning Your Home and Life. Be A Smart Mover!