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July 13, 2018 | home-buying

All in the Details: 13 Little Things That Could Sabotage your Home Sale


You may have scoured, scrubbed, vacuumed, decluttered, raked and mowed in anticipation of selling your home.

Unless you’re an expert in home staging, however, it can be easy to miss the little things that could ultimately keep shoppers from saying, “I’ll take it.”

When you've got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a close look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are hesitant.

Here’s a short list of some of the most common sticking points apt to sabotage your home-selling success.

  • Less-than-total cleanliness. Evaluate all surfaces in your home with a critical and objective eye, double-checking for grime in corners and crevices. Replace anything that’s clean but appears dirty due to discoloration or wear. A spotless bathroom is particularly crucial.
  • Clutter. Store or get rid of any unnecessary belongings, ensuring closets, drawers and cupboards are as cleared out as possible so the buyer can envision moving in his own stuff.
  • Moisture-related odors. Failing to regularly run a dehumidifier in humid conditions can easily lead to mildew-y odors, especially in your basement. But turn off the machine during house tours.
  • Dark rooms. Optimize natural light by opening curtains and blinds, make sure light bulbs are replaced and consider replacing overly dim light fixtures.
  • Dingy, wild or outdated paint. Think seriously about applying fresh coats in neutral colors to attract shoppers looking for move-in-ready surroundings.
  • Scratched or scuffed floors. A complete refinishing may not be necessary, but several products on the market work effectively to add shine and minimize the appearance of everyday wear.
  • Dangling cords. Bundle and hide these wherever possible, as they can leave the impression of clutter.
  • An unimpressive front door. Make sure your point of entry isn’t chipped, faded, fingerprint-covered or just outdated. Replacing it with a newer model should provide a worthwhile ROI.
  • Lawn refuse. A storm the night before a showing won’t make up for the impression left by wayward leaves, sticks, grass clippings, etc. Mow, rake, fertilize and weed frequently.
  • Evidence of pets. Obviously pet odors, pet-related damage and encounters with your pets themselves could be major turnoffs, but you should also remove pet toys and food that could raise related concerns.
  • Cobwebs. These can sneak up in corners and edges; check your architectural trim, ceiling fans, stove hoods, furnace ductwork, closet crevices, etc.
  • Awkward furniture arrangements. Odd configurations can make your living space seem smaller and keep buyers from envisioning how their own furniture will fit in. “Maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” advises Tori Toth, who offers staging tips on USNews.com. “The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.”
  • Too much stuff on kitchen countertops. Minimize left-out small appliances, bread boxes, canisters and other tools and accoutrements, even if you use those items every day. Your kitchen should be an expanse of clean, unencumbered, crumb-free surfaces.

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