I've been perusing other people's homes online and in person for almost two months now, and so I think that makes me an expert in how NOT to sell your home. Here are the reasons why we have outright rejected someone's house (written as if I'm talking to the sellers):
The number one "house killer" for us is if you've left your house filthy. You know who you are. You knew we were coming to see it, you'd moved all your crap out of your house, but you didn't bother to clean the damn carpets, didn't bother to clean the walls, the baseboards were brown from dirt, you dumped mop water into your jacuzzi tub and then didn't clean it and all the spouts were growing fungus (yes, we really saw a house like this), and your fan blades were caked with dust. You are filthy swine and nobody should ever live in your house again. They should firebomb your house to rid the neighborhood of all the pests and bacteria that have been accruing there for the last ten years. The worst part is that you lived in all of that filth before you moved out, and we can't see ourselves letting our kids into your disgusting cesspool that you used to call home. Shame on you!
Do the train tracks run ten feet behind the fence in your back yard? Is that why all of your pipes have burst and the floor is all moldy? No? Hmm... well maybe you're the person whose house is in a new and glorious neighborhood but is next door to the ghetto. (Baton Rouge is sadly famous for this.) Is there only one entrance and exit from your neighborhood? Do you live at the front of the neighborhood and so every other resident gets to speed by yours? I have to tell you, if you're going to make me fix up all the pipes because the house shakes every time the train passes by, or if I have to have an armed guard at each of my doors because the crime rate in your neighborhood is off the charts, or if I can't let my kids play outside without fear of them getting hit by your dumbass teenager taking turns on two wheels, then you'd better drop your price another $30K. Which leads me to...
I know you love your house. I know you made a lot of great memories there. But dammit, you're selling your house for more per square foot than it costs to buy a new house. Why in the world would I ever pay you more for your twenty year old house, where your AC is dying and your carpets needs to be replaced, when I could get something new for cheaper? Do you not realize how this works?
Oh, and if you're the owner of one of the houses that were filthy, then you have no business marking up the price of your house so that it's $25K higher than everything else in the neighborhood. If you want us to pay top dollar for your house, your house had better be frickin' top dollar! You'd better have your house clean, you'd better have a termite contract, and you'd better have something incredibly awesome in and/or around your house for me to pay you that much. Instead of paying more for your house, I'll give you a dollar so you can buy a clue.
I'm happy for you if you have a pool. My kids are young, so I look at a pool as a hazard to be avoided. Same goes for a koi pond. When you look at a koi pond you probably see your giant orange and white fish serenely swimming around their four square feet of personal universe and then you feel relaxed. I, however, see a death trap. We can agree to disagree.
But if one of the selling points of your house is that you have a giant master bathroom, then there probably shouldn't be a giant crack along the bottom of your shower. If you accentuate your beautiful light fixtures in your house's write-up, the light fixtures should be fit with working light bulbs and the actual light should not be hanging by a thread from the ceiling. (Again, I'm talking to you, Person-Whose-House-Is-Overpriced.)
If you have a fence that is being held up by another long piece of wood, you should probably get that fixed. If your gate doesn't open and is therefore unusable, I'd probably get that fixed ASAP if your house is marked up. A gate and a fence are great things to have, if they're not going to fall on my kids and crush them. If you have a garage door, it would be great if you left the garage door opener for us to use. If you want to state that the house needs work or is a fixer-upper, or is being sold "as is" then we're cool. If not, I'm deducting $10K from my offer to fix all this crap.
Last, but not least...
Never in my life would I think that the smells of one's house would be a "house killer." I barely have a sense of smell, after all. But one house we looked at smelled of cat piss. Not "cat urine" or "cat pee," but full-fledged "cat piss." It smelled like the cats had basically drank all the milk in Baton Rouge and then made it a point to pee on every square foot of carpet. To make matters worse, some kind of aerosol spray was used in an attempt to mask the cat piss smell.
Look, if you love cats, that's cool. I mean, we all have our flaws, am I right? But for crying out loud, clean your house before you put it on the market. If my wife is covering her mouth and nose with her shirt so that she doesn't have to breathe in the smells of your house, something is really wrong.
Also, if you smoke then you should get your house professionally cleaned before you put it up on the market. Not only is smoking a disgusting (and sadly addicting) habit that will reduce your life expectancy, but if you smoke then you probably don't realize how bad your house smells. It smells really bad. Like, almost cat piss bad. Stop smoking, and then spend all the money that you're saving from not buying cigarettes on getting your house properly cleaned.
My kids perpetually destroy our house. It's like the ancient Egyptian stories of Ra being reborn every morning and having to fight monsters during the night: we pick up our kids' toys every night, and then the next day they take out every single toy and throw it on the ground. It's a never-ending battle.
But when it came time to have people come over to see our house, we had our house clean. The kids toys were put away, the dishes in the sink were cleaned and put away, and the carpets were vacuumed.
We had a plan: if we got a call to see the house, we threw every piece of laundry into a laundry basket and shoved it into the back of our van. And we made sure that any deficiency with our house was fixed before we put it on the market - we had our tiles professionally cleaned, we steam cleaned our carpets, we power-washed the house, etc. We had some work on the siding that was done after an offer came in, but we had tried to get it fixed before. At least we tried!
So if we can do it, so can you. There's absolutely no excuse for a disgustingly filthy, smelly, overpriced house that needs a lot of work. Because if you do choose to put your house up for sale like that, you will end up on somebody's blog, and it will not be pretty.
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