In 15 years of real estate, I can honestly say that I’ve seen it all. Toilet seats up in listing photos, shag carpet covered with dog hair, bedrooms doubling as marijuana growing centers, and avocado green appliances from the ’70s.
Sellers aren’t required to get their homes in their best condition before showing them – let alone cleaning their home before listing. But one seller’s laziness can spell a giant upside for the right buyer.
Here are three sights that may be off-putting when you’re shopping for a home, but shouldn’t stop you from considering making an offer – particularly if you love the home, layout or location.
Odd wallpaper and dirty carpet
Today’s buyers generally prefer a home that’s turn-key or move-in ready. They’re too busy with their day-to-day lives to take on a renovation – and this is especially true for the continuously connected, mobile-ready millennial home buyer.
But painting walls and replacing carpets isn’t always time-consuming or expensive, and you can do these projects before moving in.
If a seller won’t replace their shag carpet or paint the interior a neutral color, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
A fresh coat of paint and finished floors or new carpet won’t break the bank or take more than a week, and the end product will be a like-new home for you to move into.
Rooms being strangely used
It’s not uncommon to see a home’s dining room transformed into a full-fledged office. Some homeowners even have a bedroom doubling as a walk-in closet. I once saw a first-floor bedroom turned into a wine-tasting room.
Just because the homeowner uses these spaces in a way that suits them, doesn’t mean you have to. These rooms might stand out as odd to you, but try to forget that the seller lives there.
Once they’ve moved out, the dining room will be a space that just needs a great light fixture and table. The walk-in closet can be turned back into a bedroom in less than a day.
A too-strong seller presence
It’s difficult for a buyer to imagine themselves in a home if it’s full of the seller’s photos, diplomas and other personal belongings. The best homes for buyers are those that are neutral and lacking any items specific to the owner.
What’s worse is when the seller is present at a showing. It makes everyone uncomfortable. The buyers feel like they need to be on their best behavior and can’t explore the house, dig deep into closets or cabinets, or feel free to talk out loud about what they see.
A home that is too personalized or where the seller is always present can sit on the market and get a bad reputation over time. A smart buyer will use that to their advantage and snag it below the asking price.
Sellers who sabotage their home sale – whether intentionally or not – leave money on the table for the buyer. But typical consumers today have a hard time seeing through a seller’s mess, personalized design style or custom changes.
If you see a home online that’s in a great location with a floor plan that’s ideal, go see it. Ignore the things you can change, and think about whether you can make the home your own.
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- Home Buyers: Make Note of These 3 Dealbreakers
- Sellers: Are You Making Your Agent Crazy?
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.