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10 Seller Mistakes

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. 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.

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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, and other critters.

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 and entered the kitchen, they attracted the attention of the squirrels. One of the squirrels suddenly jumped from the tree to the screen door on the sliding back door, with 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.

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, but buyers are not.

2. POO

Whether it is a full kitty litter box, dog accidents in the house, a yard that hasn’t been cleaned up in a while, or 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. But 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. Realtor tip: 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 a similar product and then the carpet needs to be replaced. Cat spray and urine is particularly challenging. One of my buyers ended up cutting out and replacing drywall (on top of subfloor sealing) to get the odor out of the home.

Related Reading: Seller Frequently Asked Questions


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. Getting an outside opinion may not be fun but it is good for selling. Also, take out the trash daily and avoid cooking foods with very strong odors such as garlic, onions, fish, etc. (Burned popcorn is the worst!)

Also, have your home cleaned if you smoke cigarettes (or marijuana). 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 like vanilla. Stay away from essential oils (these can cause adverse reactions like headaches in people not used to oils) and floral scents as those can be strong and irritating.


Some like it HOT, some like it COLD, but keep your home at a nice, cozy temperature for showings. 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 idea goes for a thermostat that’s too hot. If your home is toasty it can feel stuffy and suffocating. Plus, a hot home usually intensifies any bad odors. Make sure your home is comfortable for the average person by turning up the heat, opening some windows, or turning on the AC if necessary. You can go back to your preferred temperature after the showing.


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 is done properly. Bad DIY projects send folks running because they don’t want to get into a home that continues to offer DIY surprises that they might have to fix. If it looks DIY, it will create suspicion in everything else.


Similarly, buyers tend to not be interested if a home does not seem to have regular maintenance or has features that were poorly constructed. This sends 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 onto the back deck and fell 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 touch ups, 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 thinking this will give buyers the freedom to choose their color.  However, buyers generally don’t want to pain or replace carpet. Replace worn out carpet with a good quality carpet in a neutral color 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 common piece of advice is to remove as many personal effects so that potential buyers can imagine their family in the home. But additionally, sellers should hide piles of clothes, toiletries, and inappropriate photos (such as from the boudoir photo shoot you had done for Valentine’s Day). Trust me, no one wants to think about how other people live.


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

Dirty clothes and clutter give the impression of a dirty home. Many buyers won’t even finish looking but instead 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 than having current owners present while looking at a home. Trust me, a seller is wrong if they think that someone will buy their house because they’ll see how great & friendly they are. 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 showing and the 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

Click to download our Pre-Listing Guide

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