Ten Mistakes that will ensure that your house DOESN'T sell

Just as there are many things you can do to improve your chances of selling your house at a great price, there is an equal number of things that will drive away potential buyers and leave you scratching your head.

If you are working with a realtor, he or she will be able to make suggestions on how to make your particular home more saleable, but addressing the following problem areas is always a great place to start.

1.  A smelly house is not an attractive house to potential buyers. The problem with odors such as cigarette smoke and pet smells is that you live with them day in and day out and may not notice them. To an outsider, however, the smell will be pungent and noticeable. You can get rid of these odors by smoking outside, keeping litter boxes fresh and in a contained area, repainting walls, shampooing and steam-cleaning carpets and opening your windows to let in fresh air. Don’t try to cover odors with an air freshener without taking steps to eliminate the problem; it won’t work and your house will still be smelly and unwelcoming to potential buyers. Removing odors from mold and mildew can be a little tougher and may require professional intervention if the affected area is not easily accessible (between walls for example).

2.  Pets: you love them and think of them as part of the family. Your potential buyer may not share your sentiment, so like other members of the family, your furry companions should not be on site while someone is inspecting your house. Pile everyone in the family vehicle, or crate your pets in the yard so potential buyers can look around without being barked at, snarled at or pounced on.

3.  Bathrooms are associated with hygiene, so unclean bathrooms are a major turn-off for most buyers. Make sure your toilet, tub, and sink are sparkling clean and that the drains are clear and free of wet hair and other odor-trapping debris. Shine your faucets and mirrors, de-clutter the medicine chest, empty the trash pail and launder your towels, shower curtain and floor mats.

4.  Dark rooms look dingy and uninviting. Increase the brightness factor of your rooms by adding brighter bulbs (if appropriate), installing extra fixtures, or by placing accent lamps or cabinet lighting throughout the room. An even simpler fix is to pull back heavy curtains and lift your blinds. Trimming low-hanging branches from nearby trees can also help.

5.  Busy wallpaper is a no-no. Too many patterns can be distracting and can date your décor. Consider removing busy wallpaper, but don’t paint over it because that will look even worse.

6.  Wet basements are a cause for concern as they can indicate foundation leaks. More often however, damp basements are a sign of poor ventilation, plugged drains, or improperly positioned downspouts. Remove any mold or mildew that may have appeared as a result of dampness.

7.  Bugs; they’re usually harmless, but still an obstacle to home sales. Squash what you can, clear cobwebs, and enlist professional help if you have an infestation.

8.  Low curb appeal can discourage potential buyers from taking a closer look at your home. Spruce up your yard, entry and façade. Make sure your paint isn’t peeling, and that gardens look their best, even if out of season. Bicycles, lawn mowers and tools should be neatly stored in a shed or in the garage if necessary.

9.  Plugged Gutters. Potential buyers may not notice blocked gutters during an initial showing, but they will turn up during a professional building or home inspection, which could be the difference between a conditional sale going ahead or not.

10.  Clear out when someone is looking at your house. Potential buyers may feel awkward looking around your house if you are hovering over their shoulder. Working with a realtor to sell your house eliminates this problem, as they act as chaperone during the showing without intimidating your buyer.

Most of these fixes are simple and inexpensive to implement, yet can have a major impact on the saleability of your house. If possible, address any of the issues that are present in your home before you list it for sale. 


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