Dear Seller, if you’re doing any of these, and you want to sell your home, please stop!

10. Leave your “friendly” dog roaming free inside the house when you know we are coming to see it

Not all buyers are dog people.  Many (whether they are dog people or not) will actually be scared of your dog.  I have had clients refuse to go into homes because the dog was out.  Or they go in but don’t stay long because the dog is either scared of them or overly friendly.  It’s hard to pay attention to a home when your nether regions are being inspected by Fido.  If the buyers are true dog people they are going to focus on the dog not on the house.  Trust me I have seen it happen.  One way or the other your pet has effectively distracted the buyer from looking at your home.

9. Leave something aromatic cooking in the crock pot for your dinner that night

Not all buyers are going to be fans of your food choices.  In fact if it is particularly aromatic and something the buyer’s don’t care for, they are likely to ask me if I think the smell will come out or leave quickly because they don’t like the smell.  They were so focused on your food choice they didn’t look at your house.

8. Keep photos of your family up throughout the house

Guess what, buyers are going to look at your family photos to try to figure out who you are, do they know you, how many kids do you have?  Guess what they are not doing?  Looking at your house.

7. Leave all your nick-knacks out

I know they are precious to you but honestly they are distracting to the buyer.  Instead of looking at the fabulous mantle the buyer will be looking at all the items on the mantel.  As with family photos, buyers will often comment on these items trying to form opinions on who you, the sellers, are rather than focusing on the home.  Pack them up in boxes so you have one less thing to do later on moving day.

6. Make it difficult for me to show your house

I know selling your home is a pain, that you have a life and the appointment time I’m suggesting might not fit into your schedule.  But, hey I have a buyer that wants to look at your house.  You want to sell your house right?  Know what happens when you can’t make that appointment time work?  The buyer goes and looks at other houses that are available to see at that time.  Do buyers reschedule to see your house at a later date?  Often times not.  Many buyers find another home that they like or are just not interested in going back to see one they couldn’t see right away.  I am not saying that you have to turn your life completely upside down and backwards.  I am just saying that if our appointment time does not work for you don’t be surprised when we don’t reschedule.  The buyer is likely to have moved on.

5. To continue on the pet theme, leave your cat roaming free throughout the house with a note by the front door stating “Please do not let the cat out”

You are setting up a stressful rather than relaxing situation for the potential buyer and for me the buyers agent.  Buyers are forced to dash in and out of doors rather than wander freely throughout the home and property.  They miss out on the opportunity to call back into the house to their spouse or partner that “they have got to come see this garden, bbq area, hot tub etc” because they had to shut the door so the cat didn’t get out.  If they do get wrapped up in looking at the house and forget to shut doors I have to remind them instead of pointing out the features and benefits of your property.  You just made me the nagging hall monitor instead of the helpful agent.  When your pet does manage a jail break, as I swear 99% of them do, I am forced to give chase to Houdini the Wonder Kitty.  Meanwhile my buyers are cooling their heals either irritated that we are off schedule or more likely worried that you are going to be mad if we don’t catch your pet and get them back inside your home.  Again the focus has been shifted away from your home.

4. Don’t replace burned out light bulbs or use low lumen bulbs

Yes I know it’s only the laundry room, a closet or the spare bedroom you never use but guess what? The buyer wants to see these spaces and when the buyer can’t see it they can’t form an opinion.  Use a good high lumen light bulb that lights the space as much as possible.  While the lower brightness level will save on your electric bill, it will also make for a dark space.  Dark spaces do not impress buyers.  I will typically bring a flashlight to help out when a bulb is out but it is still not the same as having a working bulb with the appropriate wattage to light the room to the best benefit.  Buyers will focus on the burned out bulb instead of the space.  Is it just the bulb?  Is there something wrong with the fixture?  If the bulb is dim buyers will focus on how dark the space is instead of how useful it might be.  Don’t give them a chance to wonder and worry just replace the bulb and show off the assets of your home in the “best light”.

3. Close all the curtains and turn off all the lights

When we walk into the house instead of immediately noticing the great things about the house we are going to be fumbling around looking for light switches.  It is likely that either I or one of the buyers may stub a toe on a hall table trying to find the switch.  Buyers are hesitant to enter dark areas.  In a home that is dark the buyers tend to follow me around as I turn lights on instead of lingering in various rooms to focus on what they might like about a room.  They feel more like they are intruding and less like they are welcome.  Instead of paying attention to the homes benefits they worry about whether they remembered to turn a light off as they left a room.   They also don’t get as much of my attention because instead of being able to answer their questions about whether or not the fridge is included or what the square footage of the lot is I am running around opening and shutting drapes and turning light switches on and off.

I know it may not be practical to leave all the drapes open and all the lights on all the time.  At least leave the drapes open on the windows with the best views and leave a few lights on so we can find our way around the house.  If it was on when we got there I will leave it on when we depart.  If it was off I will turn it off.  Please at least leave the porch light on.  I do carry a flashlight but it is just not the same as pulling up to a home with a welcoming porch light on.

2. Turn the heat down

I know especially if you have already moved out that you would like to save on that energy bill but if it is colder in your house than it is outside buyers don’t want to linger.  They don’t get a warm cozy feeling from your home.  They just feel cold and that feeling transfers to an emotional opinion of your home.  If you can’t keep the heat all the way up at least keep it at 55 so we are comfortable in our coats and for heaven sake if you are going to turn the heat down don’t expect us to take our shoes off, leave some shoe covers.  One of the quickest ways to drive a potential buyer out of your house is to make them view a cold house in stocking feet.  It is hard to admire the spacious kitchen when your feet are being flash frozen by the cold tile floors.

1. Stay in your home while we are showing it

This is the BEST most SURE FIRE way to make a large majority of buyers uncomfortable.  Buyers don’t even come close to paying attention to the features and benefits of a home if you are there.  They are so nervous about offending you and so uncomfortable looking at your home while you sit in your living room or worse follow them around that they rush through. They will tell you thanks for letting them look and dash out. Upon leaving they can’t begin to tell me if they noticed what colours the wall were, if there was carpet in the living room or if they liked the kitchen or not.  What they do tell me is, “That was uncomfortable”, “I don’t like looking at homes when the seller is there” and, “Can you make sure the seller will be gone at the next one, if they are there I don’t want to see it.”  Leave, even if you go sit in your car, take a walk around the block or dash over to your neighbours, just leave.  The buyer will stay longer and pay more attention to your home then if you are there.  If they are interested in your home and have questions I will call your agent and ask.  Think about it… would you feel comfortable wandering through someone’s master bedroom and checking out the closet space, while they were sitting in the living room?