Thursday, May 10, 2007

How not to sell a house - 3 strikes

Last week I was hired by a family because their house was not selling and they did not know why. The family was being relocated and the house needed to be sold as soon as possible. It was a very nice newer house in a popular development.

I quickly found three major problems that made it difficult to sell.

1.There was very little furniture in the house.

Because the family was being relocated out of state, they had moved much of the furniture to their new house. The first problem with this home is the first room you saw upon entering was an empty dining room. As you know first impression are so critical to selling a house - an empty room was not a good first impression. I could count on one hand the rest of the furniture and accessories in the first couple rooms. This leaves the potential buyers feeling cold and it lacks an inviting feeling.

Solution: They absolutely need to rent a dining room table and chairs. They also need a few more accessories to make the house feel like a home.

2. Wallpaper covered just about every wall in that house.

All the bedrooms had wallpapers. All the halls had wallpaper. Each bathroom had wallpaper. It just went on and on. The problem with wallpaper is that it is very taste-specific. Most people will not have your exact taste nor have furnishings that will match the wallpaper you picked out. The other problem with wallpaper is most people know what a pain-in-the-neck it is to remove. As potential buyers view that house they think "this will be a lot of work to make it our own".

Solution: Wallpaper in the major rooms need to be removed and fresh coat of paint applied to the walls. Priority of wallpaper removal is florals. Tackle those first. If the wallpaper is a soft neutral solid color - those walls are lower on the list. In this house what compounded the problem was there was so little furniture that you noticed the 1990's wallpaper even more because there was nothing else to look at.

3. The house had a distinctive smell.

The family was Indian and cooked Indian food regularly. I could clearly smell cooking odors. If I was being invited to dinner that would be great but many potential buyers don't want to smell other people's cooking no matter what type of food it is. The house looked very clean so the smell is probably in the carpet and curtains.

Solution: This is a tricky one because this food is their regular diet otherwise I would have told them to refrain from cooking spicy foods until the house is sold. Here are some tips: cook with the windows open as much as possible, clean up immediately after cooking to not let the smells linger, have the carpets cleaned prior to an open house, and dine out as much as you can. Most importantly - get an ozone machine that will eat up odors and keep it on all the time.

Now can you see why this house was not selling like it should? With little furniture, tons of wallpaper and distinctive smell - it had three strikes against it. But it all can be taken care of. I'll keep you posted.

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