You can find tips and advice all over the place about what you should do or shouldn’t do when selling your home with the top 5 of this or top 10 of that. This month I decided to have a little fun with this subject and put together a list of the top 3 things a seller shouldn’t do that with a humorous twist. Even though the extreme examples I give are funny and probably won’t apply to most of you, the basic principles in the 3 points below are important to know and apply.
1. Not Showing Ready
Buyers will get an impression of a home very quickly based on what they see so it is important to have a home ‘showing ready’ for any buyers that will be seeing it. Having a home staged is one way to create the best impression but even just have the home clean and tidy with all minor visual disturbances fixed (like peeling paint ) will accomplish the task.
You may think the above picture is extreme and unrealistic but, believe it or not, I showed a home to a client that was worse than this and almost scary to walk through!
2. Boring Descriptions, Dishonest Descriptions and Fluffy Descriptions
“This home has hosted Ben and Jennifer, Lady Gaga and even Keith Richards who passed out in the upstairs guest bath once.” (not a real description but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it someday for a house in Los Angeles)
Here are some funny descriptive real estate phrases and what they “really” mean, courtesy of the Ellen DeGeneres show:
Old charmer – an old and ugly house
Ready to remodel – the house is about to collapse; you will have to invest twice the asking price in remodel before you can move in
Newly remodeled kitchen – 50-year old cabinetry and faucets have been replaced with cheap modern equivalents
Close to all amenities – the backyard is a shopping mall parking lot
Wildlife nearby – children and pets get ticks and fleas
Doll-house – tiny place filled with ugly knick-knacks
Efficiently designed kitchen – the kitchen is too small to fit two people at the same time
In-city living – it is not safe to walk in this neighborhood after dark
After the photographs, the description is the next most important part of the listing. A good description will create further interest in a buyer and will also target the type of buyer that will buy the home while at the same time eliminating buyers who would never buy your home.
I’ve seen the whole range of descriptions. They start with the terse ones, usually for short sale or foreclosure listings where the agent does not want to do much work (“Short sale requires lender approval.”) They graduate up to the longer but boring ones that just give a description of the home’s features (“…this house has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in 2000 sq. ft. on a 1/4 acre lot…”) – better than the terse ones but they have very little impact.
Then there are the fluffy ones – the ones I personally dislike the most (“…the ambiance afforded by the exquisite views from the spectacularly remodeled gathering space will lift your heart and soothe your soul every time you…”). Really?
Finally, there is the deceptive description where the agent makes a feature of the home sound better than it truly is or tries to downplay or hide an unpopular feature. My first example of this was a townhouse in Florida that had a ‘view of the Gulf of Mexico’. When I went with my client to see this townhouse we found out that the only view of the Gulf was from a 3rd floor bathroom window if you stood on your toes and then you could see a sliver of the Gulf. The stupid thing about doing this is that a buyer will find out that the description is incorrect and when they do they are normally so incensed that they won’t consider buying the home even if it would have otherwise been perfect!
There is an art to writing a description that balances being truthful, creating interest and an emotional response in buyers while still targeting the right buyer for that particular house without getting into sickly sweet or dramatic wording.
3. Poor Quality Photos
I took the photo above making 3 of the worst mistakes when taking pictures: 1) I didn’t use a tripod to stabilize the shot (and moved the camera as I was taking the photo to exaggerate the effect), 2) I didn’t set up the position of the camera to get the best shot and 3) I had the settings wrong for the type of light (and then didn’t adjust that in software afterwards).
This may also seem like an extreme example but I have seen listing photos on several occasions look as bad as the photo above. Sometimes they are blurry, sometimes they are too dark, sometimes they are a good quality photo but show sometime like a closeup of a vase of flowers on a table, sometimes they shows a messy room and sometimes they show a person or pet who either didn’t know they were being photographed or were asleep or passed out!
However, in many other listings I see photos that are only fair and aren’t up to the level of quality needed to really show off the best qualities of a home, like this one:
Now this is the level of quality of photo needed as well as a properly ‘staged’ kitchen.
Make sure when you are selling your home that you or your agent don’t make these mistakes!