When you decide to sell your home, it’s easy to be optimistic that it will sell quickly. After all, you’ve put in the necessary work to maintain all the major appliances, you’ve been attentive to any structural or cosmetic issues, you’ve taken down personal photos, decluttered, considered curb appeal, and spruced up your backyard. Above all, you’ve enjoyed living in the home. Why wouldn’t someone else appreciate the home just as much as you have?
Certainly all of that effort is to be commended. You are doing the right things. However, potential buyers adopt a critical eye when searching for their next home, and they’re likely to pass on your home because of things you’ve come to overlook or don’t consider important to the sale of the home.
Buyers go into their home search with a sense of optimism, too. They hope to find the ideal house for their family and lifestyle, something that will make for a natural transition, not just one with good bones or something they could make work. As a seller, you have to show buyers that your home can live up to that dream, which means anticipating what buyers may not love about your home for sale and solving the issues before the home is listed.
The home-buying season is almost upon us, so here are five common reasons buyers choose not put an offer on a home–and what you can do about them.
1. Paint Colors
Too bright, too dark, outdated, or otherwise undesirable paint colors will turn buyers away quickly. In fact, they probably won’t make it past the listing photos on the Internet. A paint color seems a simple enough thing to change–it’s purely cosmetic–so sellers often leave it to the buyers. But when buyers see the wrong paint colors, they think about how it clashes with their furniture, or how it makes the home look old, or how it doesn’t reflect their taste. Bottom line: the wrong paint color sends the message to buyers that they’re going to have to do some work to the home before they like living there.
The solution to this one is simple. Repaint. Yes, it’s tedious and can be costly, but you’ll make your time and money back with the quick sale of your home. Choose a light, neutral shade so that buyers can picture their furniture coordinating with the walls. And you don’t have to use just one color; if you want some variety, you can choose one color for the bathrooms, one for the bedrooms, and one for the common areas. Just be sure that none of these clash, either.
2. Not Enough Light
Sellers tend to believe they can’t do anything about the amount of light in a room; the size and location of the windows is tough and costly to change. Dark paint or wood paneling can also contribute to darkness. But buyers want to feel that the home is open and spacious, and light helps create this appearance–even if the home isn’t all that large.
If the room looks small due to dark walls or wood paneling, choosing a lighter color is a simple fix. It will make the space in question seem larger and more open, making the home more appealing to buyers. If small windows are the culprit, then using artificial lighting effectively is key. Certainly leave the blinds or curtains open during showings, but also place lamps in the room to brighten up corners where natural light doesn’t quite reach.
3. Ambiguous Spaces
Although sellers might think that empty rooms can leave possibilities open for buyers, the fact is that too many options can be overwhelming. If the function of an empty space is unclear, it’s likely that buyers will move on to other homes. They don’t want to have to invent a use for a room.
In order to dodge this issue, show buyers a possible use for the space. For example, if a room in your home for sale might work as an office and might work as a dining room, show potential buyers that it does in fact function as at least one of those. Imaginative buyers will still be able to see the other possibilities, but you’ll still appeal to those who need the comfort of knowing what the space is for.
4. Room Size
Even if all the spaces in your home for sale have a clearly defined purpose, buyers may still choose not to bid on the home if the rooms seem either too large or too small. Rooms crowded with too much furniture will make buyers wonder how their stuff will fit, and large rooms with little or no furniture will likewise intimidate buyers. They’ll worry that they don’t need quite so much space or don’t have enough furniture to fill it. Keep in mind that buyers are looking for a home that their furniture and possessions fit into–they don’t want to get rid of things or feel the need to buy more.
It’s important to utilize furniture to show buyers how the space can work for them. If a room is unusually large, try using clusters of furniture to create multiple distinct spaces within the room. In small rooms, be judicious about the size of the furniture you choose and where you place it, but don’t be afraid to include multiple pieces. If you have a small bedroom and put only a bed in it, buyers will think that’s all that will fit. It’s better to show buyers how their furniture can possibly fit into a small room.
5. The Home Doesn’t Flow
As important as the size and purpose of individual rooms in the home is the flow of the home itself, the movement from one room into another. Buyers want a home that functions according to their lifestyle. For example, a home with a laundry room as you enter through the garage might appeal to a family with active children in sports, whereas a ranch-style home on a small lot might be ideal for an elderly couple looking to downsize.
While you can’t necessarily change the flow of the home without doing major construction, it’s important to consider your target buyer when preparing your home for sale. If the home will function well for a family with children, then show buyers how. If it won’t, then don’t try to sell to that demographic. Consider your home as a whole and for whom it would best function, and then appeal to that audience as you make decisions about color and use of space.
The best advice I can offer you–and this will address all issues discussed above–is to hire a home stager when selling your vacant home. Stagers think about these things so you don’t have to. They bring furniture and accessories that match the style of the home, define the home’s spaces, use the size of rooms appropriately, and complement the colors on the walls. Best of all, they have the expertise to appeal to the target buyer, minimize the home’s flaws, and create an atmosphere that will result in a quick sale.