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Top 5 Home Buyer Turn-offs in 2018

Scott Robinson

With just under 3 decades as a Real Estate Broker, Scott offers you expertise in virtually all venues of real estate...

With just under 3 decades as a Real Estate Broker, Scott offers you expertise in virtually all venues of real estate...

Oct 1 6 minutes read

Selling a home can be overwhelming. There are all sorts of home staging and property preparation advice out there, and some of it seems daunting or impossible to follow unless you already live in a haute home or have a serious bankroll set aside to whip your place into shape.

You do have more control than you may realize over how desirable your listing looks to potential buyers. In order to understand what turns a buyer on, you need to know what turns a buyer off.

Here are 6 big-time turn-offs that make buyers cringe at the thought of purchasing your home.



1. Cluttered, dirty and/or "fragrant" houses

This one seems simple, yet even in 2018, buyers across Canada walk into homes that would make your mother cringe. The people who come to see your home are making one of the biggest decisions of their life. Cluttered countertops, neglected toilet seats and unattended litter boxes not only invite the viewer to turn up their nose, they practically compel a buyer to walk away.

Luckily, you have all the control in the world over how your house looks to potential buyers. De-cluttering is beneficial if you look at it as “pre-packing.” Things that are not part of the décor or a “must” for your everyday life should be boxed up, and neatly packed away in the garage or a storage unit.

 You'll have to pack it all up anyway when your home sells and doing it in advance makes it more likely the place will sell quickly!

Also, no matter how long it takes for your home to get an offer, do not show it without it being completely and totally tidied up: no laundry or dishes piled up, countertops freshly wiped down, mail and paperwork put away and smelly dogs or litter boxes cleaned or out of the house.

2. Overpricing. Buying a house in today's market is hard work!

When buyers see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home's value and has priced it sky-high, many won't even bother looking at it. If they do love it, they'll wait for it to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will put you into desperation, making you more likely to accept a lowball offer.

Ultimately, you decide what price to ask for your home, however you deprive yourself of the professional counsel and expertise you're paying for if you fail to listen to your agent's advice and insights about the listing price. They will point you to other properties that have sold in your area with similar features and use that data to help you understand the right price range for your home.

3. Deceptive listing descriptions or pictures.

Here's the deal: you will never trick someone into buying your home. If listing pictures deceptive or edited, buyers will learn this information at some point. If your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant, because the house is under the train tracks and you live in between a wrecking yard and a biker bar, buyers will inevitably figure this out.

Misrepresentation alone is enough to turn interested buyers off. In cases where the buyer feels misled, whether or not that was your intention, they can't help but wonder: If they can't trust you to be honest about this, how can they trust you to be honest about everything else?

Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest – so be both. If your home has features or aspects that most buyers will see as negative, your home's listing probably shouldn't lead with them. In any event, your pricing should account for all of your home's features, pros and cons.

4. New and bad home improvements.

A big let-down for a buyer when walking into a home with upgraded kitchen features or flooring is to be let down by the colour or quality of the upgrades.

New home improvements that run counter to a buyer's aesthetics are a big turn-off. In today's era of frugality, buyers just can't bring themselves to ripping out expensive, brand new, perfectly functioning things just on the basis of style – especially since they'll feel like they paid for these things in the price of the home.

Check in with a local broker or agent before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel. They can give you a reality check about the likely return on your investment, and help you prioritize about which projects to do or not to do. Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal. Many times, they will also help you do the work of selecting neutral finishes that will work for the largest possible range of buyer tastes.

5. Bad photos or no photos at all.

Some of the listing photos that make it online are shockingly bad. They have dumpsters parked in front of the house or piles of laundry all over the "hardwood" floors. Listing pictures should show your home at its best. Bad photos are a very quick way to ensure that you turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house!

The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pics are listings that have no photos at all; most buyers on today's market see a listing with no pictures and click right on past it, without giving the place a second glance.

Before your home is on the market, ask your listing agent to see the online marketing for their current listings in order to get a feel for how they operate. After your home is on the market, be sure to check top listing sites to be sure that the pics for your home's listing represent your home well. If not, ask your agent to grab some new shots and get them online.

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