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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Make or Break the Sale Aspects of a Home

Written by Posted On Friday, 14 October 2016 15:04

When you show homes for a living, you know that houses have to be in the best shape possible to sell.


You also know that some issues will deter a home buyer.


It can be frustrating to realize that some issues in a house may cause some prospective buyers to mentally cross the home off the list even as they’re politely looking. Some potential buyers may be very upfront about their dislike of aspects of a home when they see the pictures.

The Best Ways to Make the Sale

What’s the best sales strategy you can employ to help buyers overcome their dislike? Acknowledge the issues. Then point out elements that can work in the buyer’s favor. Suggest alternatives that can make the house work. Buyers are newcomers to the home-buying process. Sometimes all they need is a suggestion to turn “break the sale” to “make the sale.” Here are six suggestions for transforming a turned-off buyer to a turned-on one:

1. Wall-to-Wall Carpet

This can be a big deterrent to sales in an era where many people prefer hardwood floors. In addition, wall-to-wall carpet is associated with 1970s décor.

Outdated looks can break your sale, but buyers have two options here, depending on what’s underneath the carpet. If it’s hardwood, negotiate with the seller to see if they can take up the carpet and polish the floors before you show the home to buyers. If it’s not hardwood, suggest a negotiation of the selling price to allow buyers to install a hardwood once the sale goes through.

2. A Residential Garage

Many families have accommodated either kids moving back after college or an older parent moving in by remodeling a garage to be an apartment. It’s possible that this will be a selling point, but it’s also possible it will lose the sale.

Why? Well, many buyers want their garage to be a garage! They want a protected space for the cars, and a place for a freezer, bicycles, kayaks and whatever else they want to store in a garage. Options? Recommend that sellers change it back come sale time. Or, point out it is garage space that the buyers can convert back into garage space. Price negotiation might also work here.

3. Square Footage

Tiny rooms can kill a sale. If a family envisions being together in their living room or den, the fact that the available space means they’ll all be squeezed together can make them go on to the next home. If they envision enlarging their family in a new house, even more look elsewhere. The option here? This too can be used as a negotiating position on the price, as the new owners will have to remodel for more space.

You can also point out that a deck can be built to increase living space as well. Wood decks are one of the cheapest ways to expand your living area. Decks can add outdoor space to a living room, den or small bedrooms.

4. Outdated Kitchens or Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms can be huge selling points if they are clean, sparkling and updated. However, even if they are clean and sparkling but full of appliances and fixtures that say “1970s” or even earlier, it may be no-go.

Here, too, the best approach is to suggest a lowered price in exchange for the upgrades the buyer will need to do after the sale. Be sure to point out the good points of the kitchen or bathroom (location, size, layout) if applicable. A generous size and a good layout can always be upgraded. You could also suggest that a seller upgrade prior to sale to add to their sale price.

5. A Home Office

A room that can double as a home office can be a boon to quick sales. A room that has been converted to a home office in a way that limits the room’s options, however, can be a sale killer.

Built-in accessories like file cabinets, desks and bookshelves are ideal for people who want a home office. If your prospective buyer wants a space to use as a home gym or gaming headquarters for the younger generation, though, they will back off. If the flexibility limiters can be removed easily, recommend that the seller do so. If not, point out the good options the space itself provides to potential buyers. This is a potential site of sale price negotiation as well.

6. Dirt and Odors

It goes without saying that a home should be sparkling clean for a showing. Unfortunately, in some houses, though, that’s easier said than done. Some of the biggest turn-offs to buyers come from situations that imply, or state, that the sanitary conditions of the house have been less than stellar.

We’re talking about elements like:

  • Fixtures that are old and habitually dirty to the point where they won’t even get clean

  • Pet odors that are simply in the air and can’t be masked

  • Pet urine on furniture or floors

  • Cooking odors that are not temporary

In some cases, you might recommend that the owners bring in professional cleaners and air out the house for several weeks. In others, recommend that the selling price be lowered for the house to move on the market.

It Can Be Done

There are many ways to turn around a potential deal-breaker on the sale of a house. Always be ready with advice and options for both seller and buyer. Many buyers will appreciate the potential options, and it can completely reframe their view of a house. Happy selling!

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Megan Wild

Hey there! I'm Megan, I'm a home improvement writer, blogger, and real estate investor and observer. Check out my posts for housing trends and latest happenings in U.S. and Pennsylvania!


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