5 Things That Pessimistic Homebuyers Get Distracted by at Open Houses

published Jan 19, 2021
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What homebuyer doesn’t want the perfect home? Unfortunately, the perfect home, like the perfect job, the perfect mate, or the perfect life, is quite elusive — and perhaps unrealistic. In each of these scenarios, the goal should be to find something that makes you happy, something with potential, something you can work with or live with. That makes it perfect for you.

Sometimes, homebuyers miss out on what could be the perfect house for them because they’re distracted by a few not-so-desirable features that really won’t make a difference in the long run. These are some of the items that shouldn’t weigh heavily in your decision-making process. 

Bad staging

There’s a reason homeowners spend so much time, energy, and money on home staging:  they know that perfectly staged homes tend to seduce and mesmerize buyers. “If buyers don’t like the staging or interior design, it can really put them off, even if the property ticks all the boxes,” says Ron Abta, a San Francisco-based realtor and founder of Polaris Realty

“The impetus is then on the buyer’s agent to remind the buyers of what they can and cannot control.” If the home fits their needs — for example, it has three bedrooms, a garage, and a large backyard — he warns against focusing on furniture and other variables since it’s not going to be there when they move in.

Horrendous paint jobs

Paint is another feature that can trip up homebuyers. In fact, Jaylon Ceylan Brigham, a licensed associate real estate broker at Brown Harris Stevens in New York City, says this recently happened with her clients. “What was a perfect property in all aspects for my buyers didn’t impress them and they decided to pass on it.” When she asked why, the buyers said they didn’t like the home because the seller had painted each room in the house a different (and loud) color. “I reminded them that painting is the easiest thing to fix on any home and they agreed and thanked me for solid homebuying advice.”

This isn’t an isolated incident, either. “My buyers will walk into a home, love the layout and floor plan, bedroom sizes, and yard, but decide it’s not the home for them because of the interior paint,” says Candice Williams, real estate agent at RE/MAX Space Center in League City, Texas. “This is such an easy item to fix and personalize, but the insistence on buying a ‘move-in ready’ home causes them to push back.” Instead, she recommends using that neon accent wall in the kitchen or that mural painted in the kids’ bedroom as a point of negotiation to lower the home’s price. 

Small repairs

“One of the most common problems potential buyers will flag — and stagers can’t work miracles on — are a bunch of little defects, causing them to consider, ‘If that, then what else?’” says Chris Fajkos, realtor at Tahoe Mountain Realty in Truckee, Calif. He admits that these small repairs, like unstable stair railings, overgrown weeds, squeaky doors, and small holes or dents in the wall, should be completed before homeowners place their home on the market. However, these shouldn’t be the reason to reject an otherwise good home. “With a quick trip to the hardware store or call to a local handyman, most buyers would be able to knock out a handful of small repairs over a weekend.” 

Carpeting

Either you love carpet or you hate it, and according to Williams, many buyers are in the second category. “They will love the home but hate that there’s carpet in the living areas and bedrooms and decide the home is not the right one for them.” However, she explains that carpet is quite easy to remove, so the buyer can add vinyl planks, hardwood, or laminate. “There are many affordable DIY options when it comes to flooring, so carpet should not be a deal-breaker but often is,” Williams says.

Brigham agrees and says that especially in New York City, buyers have an aversion to carpeting. “Whenever I show a home with wall-to-wall carpeting, the first thing they want to know is what’s underneath it.” But she says that if there are wood floors underneath, they can be refinished for around $5 to $6 per square foot, and new floors can be installed for $10 to $12 per square foot. That may seem time consuming and inconvenient, but it’s really not. “The home will be vacant following the closing and making this change is easiest at that point,” Brigham says.

Filth and odors

No one wants to buy a dirty, smelly home. Brigham says buyers don’t even want to view them. “Whether it’s garbage that hasn’t been taken out for a few days or a litter box that was left for a while, I have had many a showing where my buyers walked in and out of homes with great potential just because they didn’t want to endure the smell any longer.” Ditto for bathrooms with soap scum around the tub and undergarments on the floor.

But believe it or not, she says it can also be an advantage if most of the buyers can’t get past the filth and odors. “The home languishes on the market and the eventual buyer gets a better deal,” Brigham explains. “After all, it’s easy enough to clean or hire a cleaning service to disinfect the home after the purchase.”