Home Buyer Turnoffs: Six Mistakes Sellers Must Avoid

If you're trying to sell your home, you know it's a buyer's market out there. According to BusinessWeek, there is an 8.6-month supply of homes on the market. That's on top of a shadow inventory of 1.8 million homes that are delinquent or under foreclosure proceedings, equating to an additional nine-month supply.

With so many homes for a buyer to choose from, you want your property to stand out from the crowd. But for the right reasons. Here are six common mistakes that will turn off potential buyers and could lose you a sale.

Turnoff #1 - No listing photos
Eighty percent of buyers look at homes online before they decide to view them in person. From the ones they see online, they choose to visit in person only 45 percent. Great photos will tilt those numbers in your favor. If it's in your budget, hire a professional photographer. If not, make sure you show the home in its best condition: no piles of laundry, no pet toys on the floor, no trash cans or bicycles on the lawn.

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Turnoff #2 - Unrealistic Pricing
Many homeowners are tempted to list their property at the top of the range of what's selling, figuring they'll lower the price if no one bites. In this market, that's a huge mistake. Thirty percent of homes on the market are distressed properties (repossessions, short sales, etc.), which can discount home values as much as forty percent. Potential buyers will either ignore homes priced at the high end for a neighborhood or make a low-ball offer. Price the home as competitively as possible. You'll get the most traffic and the best chance for a quick sale close to your asking price.

Turnoff #3 - Botched Home Improvements
A couple in North Carolina thought they would make some home improvements before they invited Realtor Joyce Poole out to list their house. Thinking they were "neutralizing" the home's many colors, they painted every room white. Instead of making the home more appealing, they simply made it look cold and uninviting. Color is okay in a home for sale, it just has to be the right color. Poole has also seen clients get into trouble with overly personal kitchen and bath renovations and window treatments that block light. To avoid making home improvement mistakes, talk to a Realtor before undertaking any presale remodeling. They can tell you which investments will give you the most bang for you buck.

Turnoff #4 - Dirty or Cluttered Interiors
When potential home buyers walks into a messy, cluttered home, one of two things happens: they either turn around and walk out, or they walk through with a heightened awareness to look for problems. If you don't care enough to keep the home clean, neat and clutter free for showings, they figure you probably don't care enough to do the necessary regular maintenance every home needs. Before putting your home on the market, make sure you give it a thorough cleaning from the baseboards to the ceiling. Pack away half of your belongings (and kids toys!) ahead of time to reduce the amount of things that can get messy, and make the home look spacious instead of cluttered.

Turnoff #5 - Misleading Listing Info
Listing your home as an "Equestrian Estate" is only going to make the buyer angry when he finds out it's a double-wide in the center of 20 acres, whether horses are there or not. If you describe your property as a home for "On The Go Executives" simply because it is at the crossroads of the interstate, railroad, and airport, don't expect any offers. Don't list your home as "Short Sale Approved" when a previous attempt at a short sale fell through. Any new short sale buyers will have to begin the lengthy process all over again. Whether your misleading information was accidental or intentional doesn't matter. Buyers will see you as a liar and not want to do business with you.

Turnoff#6 - Hovering Homeowners
A sure way to run buyers off your property is to be home during a showing. You might think you're being helpful by pointing out all the wonderful features of your house, but buyers would rather be left alone. The longer they stay, mentally arranging their furniture, the better off you are. If you're hovering, they're more likely to beat a hasty retreat without making an offer.

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. Follow her on Twitter @thedesigndiva.

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