There is one fundamental truth about haters: you can never fully escape them. Homes, locations and
aesthetics are a matter of personal preference, and the truth is, some people will ﬁnd something to criticize
about even the most perfectly staged, priciest properties on the market.
As a listing agent, your job is to appeal to enough buyers that you get great oﬀers, but you don’t want your
listing to be the house that nearly every buyer and broker sees, rolls their eyes and utters the same few,
predictable deal-killing criticisms.
But, what is predictable is avoidable. Unfortunately, many of the things that make a listing susceptible to
haters are issues on the seller’s side of the property preparation responsibilities. Learn the most common
things buyers hate and learn what you can say to your sellers to help sidestep those issues.
Step 1: Eliminate Any Odors
Viewing a home sounds like it’s all about the visual of the experience. And visuals are critical – your listing
should spruced, staged and clutter-free. But when a buyer comes to see your listing, they don’t turn oﬀ the
rest of their senses. And there is nothing that can turn a buyer oﬀ from a home they’d otherwise like more
quickly than a powerfully bad odor.
In particular, cigarette and pet odors in a house that looks well-cleaned create the concern that they might be
permanent and the buyer might not be able to get rid of them without dropping some serious cash on
cleaning or even removing wall, window and ﬂoor coverings.
If you are listing a home and you know that someone has been habitually smoking in it home or that the
seller has had a “challenge,” let’s say, with pet accidents, do not ignore the problem. And do not think that
because you had the carpet shampooed or the drapes cleaned, or because YOU can’t smell anything, that the
problem is gone. The human sense of smell very quickly gets used to smells that it lives with or is surrounded with on a regular basis.
As an agent to point out bad smells and odors, no matter how painful the conversation and make sure they
are eradicated by any means necessary, before you place your listings on the market.
Step 2: Opt Out of Overpricing
When overpricing is glaring, many buyers and buyer’s brokers will comment on it or inquire about it. What
they are less likely to do is actually come out and see the place – especially if they weed it out online after
comparing its specs to other nearby homes. Often, homes that are severely overpriced simply don’t sell until
after they’ve had some serious price cuts or have been on the market so long buyers begin to feel conﬁdent
about making lowball oﬀers.
You want your listing to stand out as a property that is not dirt cheap, but presents a good value for the
money. Force your sellers to ﬁxate on the comps. Smart sellers deactivate their emotional tendency to
overvalue their homes by poring over the sales prices (not list prices) of similar, nearby homes that have
recently sold. Walk them through this data and show them the overpriced listings that are lagging on the
market, and any value-priced listings that have sold for way more than asking.
Step 3: Ditch the Dirt and Messes
Possibly the single largest source of house hate are the dirt, messes, piles and personal belongings that
buyers ﬁnd so distracting, when they walk into a home for a viewing. Homes that are ﬁlthy from ﬂoor to ceiling
are fertile fodder for haters. What is underestimated, however, is how often even savvy home buyers are
distracted by clean homes that just have a few outstanding messes, like piles of dirty dishes in the sink or even
piles of papers, mail, books or clothes lying out in plain view.
Will one or two such items ruin the sale of your home? Perhaps not. But a few of them can distract a buyer
and, in the process, fail to see what is so great about the property. Don’t run the risk of turning oﬀ a buyer by
letting messes get in the way of their ability to visualize themselves ﬂourishing in the home. Brief clients on
what buyers expect in the way of cleanliness, and set up a plan to give them enough notice of showing
appointments so that they can do a quick, but thorough, house cleaning before every viewing.
Step 4: Lose the Little Malfunctions
All of us tend to think our homes are in fantastic condition. That’s all fantastic – all the non-cosmetic work
that’s been done to maintain and improve your listing should be trumpeted in your marketing materials, and
the cosmetic items will speak for themselves. But here’s the thing: house hunters won’t be running the
dishwasher or testing the furnace (at least not until inspections).
What they will do is ﬂick light and fan switches, open window coverings, drawers, doors, cupboards, gates and
fences, and hold the handrails as they walk up and down the stairs. They will hear leaky faucets and point out
water spots from long-ago repaired leaks, and they will notice uneven exterior tiles, paths and walkways. And
even though these items might be vastly less expensive to ﬁx than the roof or sewer line this is ﬁxed, buyers
are much more visible and noticeable to a buyer. When they notice several of these sorts of things in a single
property, they can jump to the conclusion that the whole place is rickety.
Since these ﬁxes are inexpensive, have them completed before you list. Ask your seller to walk through the
property with you, pinpointing all the necessary ﬁxes and oﬀer the a handyperson reference for someone you
know works eﬃciently.