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10 Ways To Have Buyers Flee your Home

Posted by Susanna Haynie on January 15, 2018
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The real estate world is full of horror stories of bad home showings. What some of us consider as common sense regarding preparing your home for selling, is not so obvious to others. Yet sometimes,  day-to-day habits that seem normal and ordinary to us…are uncomfortable and offensive to others. So in an effort to not have buyers flee your home – and to have a little fun – let’s take a look at some of the quickest ways to have a potential buyer run, not walk, from a home showing.


Whether it is a full kitty litter box, dog accidents in the house, a yard that hasn’t been cleaned up in a while, to even an unflushed toilet (ewwww), poo is not cool.  In one instance, an agent and his clients showed up at a home where a small dog resided. The agent and buyers knew this beforehand and were not surprised to find the dog; however, they were surprised to discover that the dog was allowed to do its business in the house. When the homeowner was contacted, they adamantly declared the poop was “very small” and shouldn’t bother anyone. The buyers didn’t agree.

Just so you know….poop is poop. Oh, and while we are on the potty topic, keeping the toilet lids closed for a showing is always a good idea.

What to do: Unfortunately, you can’t just deodorize the room and call it good. If the carpet is soiled, then the subfloor needs to be sealed with Killz or similar product and the carpet replaced. Particularly cat spray and pee is toughest to come out. One of my buyers ended up cutting out and replacing drywall (on top of subfloor sealing) to get the odor out of the home.


Not everyone is an animal or insect lover. Dogs, cats, birds….roaches….if you have something in your home that moves, it is best to have it removed before it is open for showings. Schedule an exterminator to come out and check for mice, squirrels, spiders, etc.

Family pets should be out of sight, as well. People have allergies or may have a fear of dogs, snakes, or whatever else people have as pets.

Here’s a story: At one home, the sellers placed feeders in their backyard for birds AND squirrels. The squirrels had become so friendly that the homeowner would sometimes feed them from her hand. As buyers were looking through the house, they entered the kitchen, attracting the attention of the squirrels. One of the squirrels promptly, and suddenly, jumped from the tree to the screen door on the sliding back door, all four limbs spread out and staring into the kitchen looking for its snack! This sudden display obviously startled the buyers and made them wonder if they wanted to inherit such a responsibility.

Additionally, when it comes to pets and selling your home, it is wise to have your carpets cleaned, fresh paint on the walls, and your furniture vacuumed. We are used to the smell of our pets (like the commercial says we are becoming noseblind) but others are not.


That’s a perfect segue into another area that turns buyers off VERY quickly: odors. Again, you are used to the aroma of your house. An outside opinion may not be fun but is good for selling. Also, take out the trash daily, avoid cooking foods with very strong odors such as garlic, onions, fish, etc. (Burnt popcorn is the worst!)

Also, have your home cleaned if you smoke cigarettes, and here in Colorado, pot. Try a ozone machine to remove these odors, and if all fails use ozone paint (YES!!)

If you decide to have potpourri or a candle to improve the ambiance of the home, be aware that some scents can be off-putting or create an allergic reaction. The best scent to use is something mild, such as vanilla. Stay away from essential oils (these can cause adverse reactions such as headaches in those not used to oils) and floral scents – as those can be strong and irritating.


Some like it HOT, some like it COLD, but if you are showing your home, keep it at a nice comfy temperature. A range between 68-74° is just about right. The other day I showed a home to some potential buyers. We walked in and the thermostat was set at 54°! It was downright freezing. At that temperature, none of us wanted to stay inside and the buyers literally RAN out of the home …and never looked back.

The same with being too hot. If your home is toasty, it can feel suffocating, plus there is something about a hot home and how it magnifies bad odors. Make sure your home is comfortable for the average person by turning up the heat or opening some windows, turning on the AC if necessary. Then, when the showing is done, put it back to your liking.


If you are a DIY’er, it is best to have those projects removed or have them reviewed by a professional to make sure it looks good and done properly. Bad DIY projects send folks running because they don’t want to get into a home that keeps on offering DIY surprises that they might have to fix. Anywhere from the odd placement of a door or cabinet, a basement finish, flooring, etc. If it looks DIY, it will create suspicion in everything else.


Along the same lines, if a home has elements to it that have not had attention in a very long time, or were poorly constructed, it will send a signal to buyers that the home hasn’t been taken care of and will have problems. During one of my showings, the buyer stepped on onto the back deck only to fall through it! The homeowners were lucky they were not sued.

It is worth taking the extra time and money to bring in a handyman to fix caulking, torn window screens, loose boards, paint touchups, chipped cement, cracks in walls or ceilings, etc.

A little note: If carpet is in bad condition in a listing, sellers often feel satisfied with offering a carpet allowance with the explanation “Buyers at least can pick their carpet color” However, buyers want nothing less than having to paint or re-carpet. Pick a neutral color, a good carpet and have the carpet replaced to give your home the best chance to draw in buyers. Time IS money!


Unfortunately, we can’t do much about other people, but nosy, annoying neighbors will send buyers running as fast as the Roadrunner being chased by Wylie Coyote! So, if you do have one of those neighbors, you may want to get creative in thinking of ways to keep them from approaching potential buyers with questions or their dish on the latest community gossip – or worse.


A well-known piece of advice is to remove as many personal effects so that potential buyers can imagine their family in the home. But along with that is making sure that there are no piles of clothes, toiletries, inappropriate photos – such as from the boudoir photo shoot you had done for Valentine’s Day, intimate apparel, hygiene products, etc. Trust me, no one wants to think about how other people live.


Open up your home by removing all the tchotchkes, trash, piles of laundry, mold, dirty dishes, any clutter, oh, and hair. Hair anywhere will give buyers the heebie-jeebies! An easy solution, throw laundry and other clutter in a tub and place in your car during home showings. For dirt and hair, in the morning take an old cloth and quickly wipe down sinks, counters, and bathtubs.

Dirty clothes and clutter give the impression of a dirty home. Many buyers won’t even finish looking but will turn on their heels when they see anything that makes them uncomfortable or gives the impression of a dirty environment.


There’s nothing worse while looking at a home than having the previous owners present. Trust me, thinking that buyers will buy from you because they’ll see how great & friendly you are is wrong. The buyers won’t even notice the home because all they will think about is the fact that the homeowners are there. It will be a quick in-and-out and sellers will have lost the opportunity to really show a home.

Remember that sellers have ONE chance to make a good impression!

What else would you add to this list? What makes you not interested in a home when you are house-hunting? Also, you may want to check out this article: Preparing To Sell Your Home For The Highest Price.

Allow us to help you find your happy place so that you can #lovewhereyoulive again!

719-219-9739 or agentsusanna@gmail.com

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