I just read an article online regarding 7 things can turn buyers off when viewing homes for sale. Sometimes sellers don't want to believe their agents when they try to tactfully explain these things to a seller when taking their listing. I'm going to review the 7 things in this article in my own words:
1. Pets - I just showed an Orland Park home to buyers yesterday and no one mentioned the huge dog (looked like a mastiff) that was in a big cage in the empty dining room. He didn't bark and barely moved, but this could have scared other agents and buyers right out of the house. He was a formidable though gentle giant that surely was not a watchdog but for his imposing size. There was also a rabbit in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The good news is there was no animal smell.
That's not always the case. I showed another home with a sunroom full of turtles in different cages. It was stinky. These were large turtles (or tortoises - not sure of the difference) and with so many it was hard to conceive of these as being house pets.
We've shown many otherwise clean homes that smelled like wet dog. A lot of times there are homes with a terrible urine smell. In two of those cases it wasn't from pets! The problem is, buyers are afraid they won't be able to remove those smells and will walk away, even if the house might have worked for them.
I think I already wrote a post (maybe not on this website) about a German Shepherd that lunged at us as we stepped out to view the back yard. The owner didn't have him on a leash and knew we were looking in the house and didn't give us any warning to alert her when we were coming out back. That was a potential insurance claim!
Many buyers are afraid or allergic to dogs and cats. I have a fear of snakes and hate to see a cage with a possible snake in it (or worse, an empty reptile cage). You could thwart the sale of your home just because of your pets.
When we sold our last home we had 2 dogs, a scaredy cat that hid and no one would have ever seen & 3 hamsters. When we left the house for showings we took both dogs on leashes and the hamsters in a travel cage. We made sure the house didn't smell (we'd ask friends and visitors) and we got the pets out with the exception of the cat (we made sure the litter was clean).
Birds are another thing. I stepped into the kitchen of a home where the owners were out and jumped when I heard a loud & clear "Hello!". It was a parrot that once again, no one had mentioned when I set the appointment. Birds are usually OK since they're caged but I have shown homes where the cage wasn't clean and there was stuff all over the floor - not making a great impression to my buyers.
Don't forget to clean up pet toys, beds and food dishes. Some people who aren't necessarily allergic will start itching when they know there is a pet even if the pet is out of the house and there is no odor. Better to be safe than sorry and although you might be used to your pet beds, they can look pretty bad and they can give off odors that you're used to.
2. Animal trophies - proud hunters don't understand people that don't believe in killing animals for sport. Displaying their kills could make buyers angry enough to not consider buying their home! I don't run into this in my area. The closest was a taxidermist who worked out of his home. It wasn't my listing (thank goodness) and my buyers and I were totally creeped out with his projects - sitting around being worked on and some wall mounted.
You're going to have to move the trophies later so you should pack them away now. If there are holes in the walls put up artwork instead. This could cost you thousands or many days on market. Put the trophies back up in your next home.
3. Flags & other controversial displays - we've heard a lot about areas banning confederate flags but some people feel they can display whatever they want inside their homes, and they're correct. But when you have your home up for sale you should remove any articles that could be deemed offensive to others. Swastikas and certain war memorabilia can do the same. Why risk it? Pack it up and take it out at your next place.
4. Sports memorabilia - I do see this a lot. Some sports fans go way out for their teams and decorate entire rooms with their favorite team's stuff. Sometimes it's scattered throughout the house. I've had buyers say "We can't buy this house because they're ___________ fans." They usually say it in a joking manner but they could easily cross that house off their list. I have a feeling that a seller with this much fervor for their team would think, "any buyer that doesn't like my team is a buyer I don't want for my house." This might be the most difficult thing to convince a seller about and from what I've seen, sellers proudly display their team spirit no matter what.
5. Nude art - it's not that often I encounter this when showing homes but I have. You never know who could be offended so why risk it? I would pack it away and if it's a wall hanging replace it with another piece.
6. Locked rooms - I'll never understand the locked rooms, at least without an explanation. I've been told we can't get into a bedroom because someone is sleeping. No biggie, if the buyers like the house they can come back to see the one room. But many times a room is locked without explanation and that makes the buyers more curious. I'm not sure it's going to stop a buyer from moving on if they love the rest of the house, but an explanation should be given so people's minds don't wander, possibly creating a negative vibe about the house.
7. Drugs - this happened to me recently. I was showing a home and we opened a door in the basement to an area that appeared to have been a "grow house" for marijuana. I wasn't sure but my client, who I think was an ex-policeman, sure thought it was. It totally turned him off to the home and we abruptly left.
This is also a huge deal for sellers that smoke in a house. Smokers are used to the thick smell of cigarettes but I can tell you that non-smoking buyers have quickly left a house before viewing much because of the stench of smoke. Like pet odors, they're afraid they'll never get it out even if I tell them that if they change the carpet and paint/clean walls & ceilings that the smoke smell should go away. But many buyers don't want those expenses right away and they're still not sure it will take the odor away completely, so they quickly bypass smoker's homes.
Don't risk it!
Having these things in your homes can cost you thousands and create a longer marketing time for your place. Pets are part of the family - I get that as a pet owner. But I will do everything possible to remove pets (and their stuff) for showings and to make sure the house doesn't smell because of them.
Any of the other items on this list should be packed away and out of sight, with the possible exception of your sports items. I'm not really sure if that truly affects a sale, but if it were me - I'd put the sports collection away.