What Not to Do When Putting Your Home on the Market

January 24, 2018

Most seasoned real estate agents have seen it all when showing homes to potential buyers: sinks full of dishes, worn-out carpets and all manner of creative paint schemes.

If you’re getting your home ready to go on the market, your agent will probably give you a list of things to do before buyers start coming through the door. But what are some of the things you should NOT do? We asked three Long & Foster agents to share their tips.

A common theme: It’s important to pay attention to odors.  Denise Ramey, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based Long & Foster agent, said it’s best not to let buyers in until you’ve had a dispassionate third party give the home a sniff test. If it’s not good news, address the source – don’t try to cover it up.

Heather Petrone-Shook, a Long & Foster agent based in Philadelphia, agreed, recalling one client who cooked fish right before an open house, which was a mistake. Courtney Martinez, an agent in Long & Foster’s Williamsburg, Virginia, office, said it always pays to look at your home through the eyes of a buyer who’s seeing it for the first time.

Here are 10 more tips from Martinez, Petrone-Shook and Ramey on what not to do when trying to sell your home:

  • Don’t think you can offer buyers a credit instead of performing needed work. Most want a move-in ready home. They tend to assume the work will cost more than the amount of the discount.
  • Don’t forget about curb appeal. A dirty front door and messy mailbox can signal the house wasn’t well-cared for.
  • Don’t hesitate to replace carpeting if it needs it, and don’t buy the lowest quality. Again, most buyers want something they can live with for a while.
  • Fresh paint is great, but don’t opt for bold colors. Neutrals give the buyer a clean palette for imagining their own décor in the home.
  • Don’t hide any defects in the property. You don’t want a surprise at inspection that could kill the deal.
  • Don’t overprice your home. Rely on your agent – not automated valuations you find on the internet – to determine fair market value and position your home competitively for the quickest sale at the best price.
  • Don’t DIY any repairs you’re not qualified to do. Buyers can spot low-quality work, and they’ll wonder what else has been shoddily done.
  • Don’t dig up your lawn and reseed it shortly before you start showing the house.
  • Don’t let buyers see fixtures you plan to take with you. Why risk causing disappointment?
  • If you’re a cat owner, don’t let the litter box go without frequent cleanings, and try to remove it from the home during showings if you can. Take your pets and their things with you, or find a safe place for them to stay during showings, so buyers can focus on the home.