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Welcome to nastyville: 5 Ways to convince buyers not to buy your home

I'm a Communications Coach at Exec|Comm, LLC, a NY-based Communications Consulting firm AND a Realtor at RE/MAX. Who doesn't love talking and houses?

If you want to sell your abode, make sure you're not doing any of these things.

As the real estate market has become more active and competitive, many home sellers have thrown out curb appeal and staging and opted for a more “natural” approach. By natural, I mean leaving their domicile in its uncleaned and unaltered state and hoping that buyers will overlook stained carpet, chipped paint or much worse. When I work with clients, there are easily remedied icks that gross them out and guarantee that they won’t buy a home, much less return for a second viewing.

If you’re dead set on listing your home and not selling it, here are some things I’ve seen as a Realtor that are sure to do the trick:

Curry, fish or onion odors in the kitchen; chicken livers receive honorable mention

While everyone wants a tricked out kitchen with a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Viking stove, most people don’t want to smell anything that’s been cooked in said kitchen. What do people want to smell in a kitchen? Lemons, cinnamon, or chocolate chip cookies. Lemons make us think the space is clean and ready for cooking, cinnamon elicits feelings of warmth, and chocolate chip cookies take us back to a picture-perfect childhood memory, usually coupled with a large glass of cold milk.

If you must eat while your home is for sale, consider pasta, chicken, or salad (without onions) as non-malodorous choices.

Funky toilet and shower

An un-flushed, filthy toilet is one of the top nastygrams a potential buyer can receive. The bathroom gives people an idea of how you really live and can make or break their perception of the rest of the home. We shower to get clean. Showers should be clean, not mildewed and filled with so many empty and almost-empty hair and body products that buyers can’t see the tile or fixtures.

Unmade bed

When you walk into someone’s bedroom, you want the aura of romance and rest, not of rumpled sheets and bad breath. An unmade bed suggests that someone just got out of bed and left for the day, which they likely did. It also suggests that they may not have paid attention to detail and fixed and maintained critical systems in the home.

Mountains of shoes at the front door

This is a big one that bugs buyers. Mountains of shoes usually suggest, with a handwritten sign by the front door, that potential buyers take off their shoes. Unless they are forewarned and bring their own slippers, most people don’t like to take off their shoes in a stranger’s home. I’ve had buyers leave properties when asked to take off their shoes, especially in warm, no-sock weather. Taking off boots in the winter is no fun either.

Fur-matted dog bed and stinky litter box

Yucky dog beds and overflowing litter boxes make buyers think dirty thoughts, and not good dirty thoughts like those brought on by Chris Hemsworth or JT. If you have pets, keep their sleeping, eating, and eliminating areas out of sight and out of buyers’ minds.

What do buyers want? Clean, open space in which they can envision themselves and their families. Deep-clean, de-clutter, and de-personalize to give your home the best chance of selling quickly and for the price you want.

Pam Burns is a Realtor in Northern New Jersey, specializing in waterfront properties in Hoboken, Edgewater, Jersey City, Weehawken, and the surrounding areas.

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