Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If You Can Smell It...You Can't Sell It!

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

I recently toured a home that is up for sale by a house flipper. He had been having trouble selling it. He told me on the phone some of the reasons he believed it wasn't selling: the home's location (across from a fairly busy LIRR train station) might be the problem - or the fact that the home has no furniture and lacks some warmth.

When I arrived to do a walk-through staging consultation, I first noticed that the home's exterior could use some sprucing. Not a big deal - easy to do. But - then I walked into the home. I had just put my foot into the entry and I was overwhelmed by a mildew/moldy smell. It was really pungent...and very obvious. But - apparently not to the flipper. Very proudly (and rightly so), he took me on a tour of how he renovated the kitchen and all the bathrooms. He and his team did a magnificent job. The paint job on the home was well done - nice neutral colors that will go with anyone's furniture and decor. The closet were poorly done - but this was a minor issue.

When we went down into the basement, I felt like we were in a different house. It was unfinished, dank and this is where the smell was coming from. This basement should have been the first thing that the flipper should have attended to. I told him that the first thing he needed to do was to contact a company like Healthy Basements - and have the mold/mildew removed. Then the entire place would need a great paint job - at minimum. Adding a new washer/dryer would be a plus...and something that all homebuyers would want to see. The basement was plumbed but there was a faulty-looking electrical hookup - and I couldn't see where there would be a vent for a dryer. Taking care of this toxic mold, painting and add a washer/dryer would have been the first things I would have done.

The flipper originally wanted me to give him an idea of the costs of staging the kitchen, bathrooms, living room, dining room, the master bedroom and an office. I told him that the basement had to be attended to first before I could ever put furniture in the home.I will know this week whether or not he has accomplished what I suggested he do.

The Moral of the Story

Most homeowners are unaware of smells in their homes. When we live in our homes we become accustomed to the ways things look and the way our home smells. But these very "homey" things/smells can be off-putting to a potential homebuyer.

The adage "If you can smell it - you can't sell it" is so true when it comes to successfully selling your home. Please be aware of some of the chief offenders such as...pets/pet urine, cigarettes/cigars, cooking smells, air condition filters that needs to be changed, heavy perfumes, oil-based paints/stains...and mold/mildew smells. Having a fresh and natural smelling home will be very welcoming to a potential buyer. It's advisable to have an independent person to assess your home for any potential offensive odors. Professional home stagers have access to various professional ways to rid your home of smells - so always ask their advice. If you have mold and mildew problems in your home - this is not only offensive but it's toxic and hazardous to your health. Removing it as quickly as possible will not only keep you healthy...but it will sell your house quickly too.


Jeremy Larkin said...

Linda good comments and story. I'm having a little fun this Halloween week doing some video blogging in costume. Today we discussed the "poorly staged home" as a halloween nightmare. Here it is:

Most sellers and TOO MANY agents are putting property on the market too early...unstaged, uncleaned up. "cart before the horse" for sure. I always tell my clients: "Now that we have agreed to list, here is everything i need you to do so we can sell the home...bullet point, walkthrough, staging consultaation, whatever. Statistics prove that staged homes sell in 1/2 the time and for 6% more money. If you want I can email you the stats.

Keep up the good work!

Linda Leyble said...

Hey Jeremy - thanks for your post. It's true - I find that many homes go on the market before they are ready. Sellers wonder why it takes so long to sell their homes - and, unfortunately, when the homes fail to sell - most agents advise their clients to lower the price. Investing in staging is always less than a price reduction. It's a shame that sellers cannot "see" the equity in their homes. Writing out a check for $1,000 (less or more depending on their home) - seems to be a horrible thing - but reducing their asking price by $20,000 - 50,000 - they do that more easily. I don't understand the logic!


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