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  • Writer's pictureAubrie Layne


a room with cracked walls, how not to sell your home

You could have the best, most experienced real estate agent in the world, but if you and your agent are not doing what you can can to show your home in the best light, all may be lost. Sellers, don't take it personally when your agent gives you advice on different ways to highlight your home. We specialize in ways to get your home sold for the highest amount and small things can make a huge difference. Often the changes don't require you to spend a lot of money on but just a little time. Here are some of my favorite tips as well as some other tips by other agents.

REALTOR® magazine polled 50 buyer agents, revealing the biggest deal breakers when it comes to home showings. Some of these were excerpts from that article

a cat in a barbie box

1. Pets and their messes

Approaching a house with a barking dog is not always a good experience for visitors. If a pet seems to be mean or feels threatened, it could be a cause for trouble. Also, leftover smells, urine-stained carpets, or hair can be a deal breaker for a potential buyer. Solution: a pet needs to be off the premises during the tour, most likely with a neighbor. Make sure all pet-induced smells and messes are cleaned up before the tour. Keep a good habit of using essential oils diffusers and regularly febreezing curtains, carpets and furniture while your home is listed and open for showings. I use plug in diffusers like these with a universal flattering scent like a spicy floral that reminds me of Tom Fords Ombré Leather scent. It can give potential buyers a feeling of more luxurious stylish home.

Nest room atomizer plug ins

a smelly bowl of curry

2. Odors

 Many homeowners don’t even realize that they have a smell in their midst — they become immune to it; it’s up to the agent to sniff out what could be a deal breaker: cooking or pet smells, cigarettes or marijuana, food gone bad. Solution: a good carpet cleaning or mopping, room deodorizers.

These situations have proven to be frustrating and embarrassing to my buyers and leaving the showing thinking to myself WHY?! and SMH..

a  chick with moving boxes and wine


3. Homeowners are lurking around

This could prove awkward for the potential buyers, particularly if the owners are going about their ordinary business. What could be worse: the owner following the potential buyers around during the tour.

Solution: I give my clients plenty of advanced notice to leave the premises, and insist on it. You could also unintentionally say something that could make the potential buyers cringe...or not put in an offer. Often I encourage my clients to have a staycation the entire weekend when their house goes live for the first time. That way they won't be inconvenienced of zillions of showings on one of the busiest times of the home listing.

bees inside a roof

4. Critters

Even a clean, organized house could have unexpected guests, especially in winter. Rats, mice, racoons, and I even had a client with BATS recently can be sneaky and make a home within the sellers’ home. The bats delayed closing because they had to humanely rehome them and that is an expensive pain to do while under contract. So if you have any sort of those issues take care of it prior to listing and just know that it will come up during inspections

Solution: pre listing inspections from a thorough exterminator. Also, if you've recently moved out, had the home sprayed for pests, when the the home is vacant, visit the home from time to time to make sure bugs don't come in and die to be left and seen by potential visitors.

a pink, yellow and blue house

5. Wild Painted Colors.

This is probably one of the most often FAIL when trying to sell your home. Buyers today want neutral palettes and while you might think your home color choice is pretty snazzy, you might get swiped right on. I know it sounds silly, but buyers still find it hard to see past the rainbow hues because its distracting them from the best features of your home. So make sure you give it a nice new bright coat of light neutral paint.

popular paint colors for home by benjamin moore

6. Strange uses in the home

Anything that doesn’t seem “normal” or “logical.” These could include doors opening the wrong way, a dishwasher filled with books or photo albums, strange paint jobs.  Make the formal dining room a dining room again instead of a home office, return the breakfast nook to a nook etc. Also, be sure that you don't have too many bright or really dark paint colors on the wall. This is probably my number one pet peeve, too many colors on the walls. I can guarantee you, potential buyers cannot look past your purple accent wall and each bedroom of a different hue. Just get it all painted white ahead of going live. It's best to go with all white to light grays and beiges for your interior paint. These hues are a sure way buyers will swipe LEFT to pass up your listing and never even book the showing to begin with…

These sights could discourage buyers. Solution: fix whatever is broken; make the wrong right, make it all WHITE.

a  cluttered house

7. Dirt/clutter

Dirty laundry, unflushed toilets, dishes in the sink, unmade beds, soiled carpets, overflowing trash cans, piles of clothes on the floor. Solution: get to work on cleaning and organizing before the guests arrive. Pressure washing outdoor areas are a great way to give a fresh clean feeling to the exteriors too! Trust me, I have had a listing where the clients didn't clean very much and potential buyers were turned off from making an offer. They felt that is the home was this dirty there may be more surprises from the deferred maintenance that could be lurking somewhere else. The simplest solutions could cost you thousands of dollars for a very inexpensive problem. m

Packing the closets too tightly will also be a huge turn off to potential buyers. Try removing AT LEAST 50% of items in your closets and arrange them in light to dark, and rainbow or like colors.

a daytimer and cup of coffee

8. Personal information left in plain sight-

Bank and credit card statements, phone or electric bills, mortgage notices, late warnings. These are often left on the kitchen counter or the dining room table. Solution: organize and place all bills and statements in a closed drawer. Even the overkill of family portraits can be unwelcoming. We want the potential buyers to keep the focus on the way they could see themselves on the home and not distracted by the curiosity's of the family tree.

If your home is vacant while your showing it, try replacing all of your homes lighting with smart lighting that can be scheduled to turn on and off like the patio and entry lights. Be sure to make them all of the same hue throughout the home Check out my favorite smart lighting on Amazon, HERE
a dark bathroom

9. The house is too dark

A house should always be shown in the best light. The house tour should always be brightly illuminated (including natural daylight). Otherwise, it may feel spooky or shady to a potential buyer. Solution: open up the shades and drapes, switch on the lights in dark places.

10. Leaving Showings Up to Tenants

If you have tenants currently living there and are obligated to let in potential buyers, make sure they are aware of the importance of these tips also. You can never guarantee your tenants will care about showing your home in the best light. You can also ask your agent to accompany the showings to ensure your home is in its best light.

If you would like more tips, see my Checklist for Home Sellers post~leave me some comments below too!

Aubrie layne realtor picture

Aubrie Layne is a licensed Realtor in Houston Texas with Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty. To search for properties, get more selling, buying, design hacks and tips, visit

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