6 Things That Turn Home Buyers Off

Here are 6 big-time home buyer turn-offs that make buyers cringe at the thought of your home, and action steps you can take to prevent your home from being an offender:

1. Stalker-ish sellers. I know you think you’re being helpful, walking the buyer through your home and pointing out the wagon-wheel light fixture you made with your own two hands, the custom mural of a stingray you paid top dollar to have painted across your living room wall and the way the sounds of happy schoolchildren running across the front yard of your corner lot to get to the school in the next block lifts your spirits. However, the buyers might be trying really hard to ignore, minimize or figure out how to undo the very features of your home you hold dear. They also may want or need to have personal space and conversations with their mate or their agent while they’re viewing your home – you being there, especially walking right alongside them while they’re in your home, prevents them from being comfortable about doing this, or discussing all the things they would change if the home were theirs. In my experience, the more nitpicky a buyer gets about a house and the more detailed their list of things they would change, the more serious they are about considering making an offer on this place.

What’s a Seller to do? Back off. Let your home be shown vacant, or leave the house when people come to see it. If you need to be there, at least walk outside or go sit at the coffee shop down the way while prospective buyers view your home. If the buyers have questions, their people will contact your people.

2. Shabby, dirty, crowded and/or smelly houses. You already know this one. Yet, buyers constantly marvel. The buyers who come to see your home are making the decision whether to choose your home for the biggest purchase they’ve ever made during the worst economic conditions most of them have ever experienced. Your job is to get your home noticed – favorably – above the sea of other homes on the market, many of which are priced very, very low.
What’s a Seller to do? Other than listing your home at a competitive price, the only tool within your control for differentiating your home from all the foreclosures and short sales is to show it in tip-top shape. Pre-pack your place up, getting rid of as many of your personal effects as possible. Do not show it without it being completely cleaned up: no laundry or dishes piled up, countertops freshly washed, smelly dogs (I have a couple who smell on occasion – no judgment – but don’t show your house with pet odors) or litter boxes cleaned and/or out of the house.

3. Irrational seller expectations (i.e., overpricing). Buying a house on today’s market is hard work! On top of all the research and analysis about the market and situating their own lives to be sure they’ll be able to afford the place for 5, 7, 10 years – or longer, buyers have to work overtime to separate the real estate wheat from the chaff, get educated about short sales and foreclosures and often put in many, many offers before they get even a single one accepted. The last thing they want to add to their task lists is trying to argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing. And, in fact, there are so many other homes on the market, buyers don’t have to do this. When they see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home’s value and has priced it sky-high, most often they won’t bother even looking at it. If they love it, they’ll wait for it to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will “educate you” into desperation, priming the pump for a later, lowball offer.

What’s a Seller to do? Get real. Get out there and look at the other properties that are for sale in your area and price range. Get multiple agents’ take on what your home should be listed at, and don’t take it personally if their recommendation is low. If your home has much less curb appeal or space or is much less upgraded than the house across the way, don’t list it at the same price and expect it to sell. If you owe more than your home is realistically worth, you may need to reexamine whether you really want or need to sell, or consider a short sale, if you simply have to sell. Don’t be tempted into testing your market with an obviously too-high price, unless you’re prepared to have your home lag on the market and get lowball offers.

4. Feeling misled. Here’s the deal. You will never trick someone into buying your home. If the listing pics are photo-edited within an inch of their lives, or your home is described as an “approved” short sale when, in fact, the bank approved another offer, now withdrawn, but will require a new offer to go through any sort of approval process (even a truncated one), buyers will learn this information at some point. If your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant, as code for the fact that your house is under the train tracks and you live in between a wrecking yard and a biker bar, prospects will figure this out. If the detailed information about your home, neighborhood or even transactional position (e.g., short sale status, seller financing, etc.) is misrepresented, the sheer misrepresentation will turn otherwise interested buyers off. If you authorize your agent to “verbally approve” the buyer’s offer, don’t go back the next day demanding an extra $5,000. In cases where the buyer feels misled, whether or not that was your intention, running through the buyer’s mind is this question: If they can’t trust you to be honest about this, how can they trust you to be honest about everything else?

What’s a Seller to do? Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest – so be both. If your home has features or aspects that are often perceived negatively, your home’s listing probably shouldn’t lead with them (like the ad I recently saw with the intro line: “this place is a mess!”), but neither should you go out of your way to slant or skew or spin the facts which will be obvious to anyone who visits your home. Make sure you know what the listing of your home reads like, before it’s published to the web, and that a prospective buyer will not feel misled by it.

5. New, ugly home improvements. Many a buyer has walked into a house that has clearly been remodeled and upgraded in anticipation of the sale, only to have their heart sink with the further realization that the brand-spanking-new kitchen features a countertop made, not of Carrera marble, but brand-new, pink tiles with a kitty cat in the middle of each one (I saw this once, people – no joke). Or the pristine, just-installed floors feature carpet in a creamy shade of blue – the buyer’s least favorite color. New home improvements that run totally counter to a buyer’s aesthetics are a big turn-off, because in today’s era of Conspicuous Frugality, buyers just can’t cotton to ripping out expensive, brand new, perfectly functioning things just on the basis of style – especially since they’ll feel like they paid for these things in the price of the home.

What’s a Seller to do? Check in with a local broker or agent before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel. They can give you a reality check about the likely return on your investment, and help you prioritize about which projects to do (or not). Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal. Many times, they will also help you do the work of selecting neutral finishes that will work for the largest possible range of buyer tastes.

6. CRAZY listing photos (or no photos at all). Here at Trulia, we’ve seen listing photos that have dumpsters parked in front of the house, piles of laundry all over the “hardwood” floors touted in the listing description, and once, even the family dog doing his or her business in the lovely green front yard. Listing pictures that have put your home in anything but its best, accurate light are a very quick way to ensure that you turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house! The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pics are listings that have no photos at all; most buyers on today’s market see a listing with no pictures and click right on past it, without giving the place a second glance.

Smart Steps for Homeowners!

Is there anything more exciting than taking the leap from being a renter to becoming a first-time homeowner? There are so many things you can do in your very own space, that you can’t do as a renter! Yet it’s vitally important to avoid some common mistakes – errors that can jeopardize everything you’ve worked so hard to earn. Take a moment to think about these six practical steps you can take to ensure that your first home is all that you want and expect it to be.

Don’t overspend on furniture and remodeling

Remember that you’ve just handed over a big chunk of money your down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses. It’s natural to want to personalize your new home, and upgrade what may have been temporary apartment furniture for something nicer. Don’t make the mistake of going on a massive spending spree to improve everything all at once. Staying in your first home is just as important as getting it; don’t jeopardize your new status as a homeowner! Allow yourself time to adjust to your new expenses, and rebuild your savings.

Don’t ignore important maintenance items

A major new expense of homeownership – and one that you must allow for – is making repairs. Don’t neglect seemingly small problems that put you in danger, or which could worsen over time, turning a relatively small problem into a much larger and costlier one.

Hire qualified contractors

Don’t try to make improvements or perform repairs that you aren’t qualified to do. It won’t save you money or time. Your new home is an investment, deserving of the same level of care and attention you would give to anything else you value. Hire professionals to do work you don’t know how to do, in order to keep your home in top condition (and to avoid self-injury).

Get help with your tax return

Hire an accountant to ensure that you complete your return correctly, and maximize your refund. Home ownership significantly changes most peoples’ tax situations, as well the deductions they are eligible to claim. Getting your taxes professionally done once will give you a template to use in future years, if you decide to resume doing your own taxes. Remember, tax-preparation expenses are deductible, so think of that as a discount on the cost of the service.

Don’t confuse a repair with an improvement

Home expenses aren’t treated equally for the purpose of determining your home’s basis. The Internal Revenue Service considers repairs to be part of homeownership; they consider a repair to be something that preserves the home’s original value, but does not enhance its value. Only improvements, such as replacing the roof or adding central air conditioning, will help decrease your future tax bill when you sell your home. For areas which aren’t cut-and-dried (like remodeling your bathroom because you had to bust open the wall to repair some old, failed plumbing), consult IRS Publication 530 and/or your accountant.

Get properly insured

Your mortgage lender requires you to purchase homeowners insurance, and to purchase enough to fully replace the property in the event of a total loss. Keep in mind that there are other types of coverage you’ll need as well. If you share your home with anyone who relies on your income to help pay the mortgage, you’ll need life insurance (with that person named as a beneficiary) so that they won’t lose the house if you die unexpectedly. You’ll also want to have disability insurance (to replace your income) if you become disabled to the point that you can’t work.

Also remember the possibility of lawsuits. Have the best car insurance coverage you can afford, and consider purchasing an umbrella policy to pick up where it leaves off. Why? If you are found at fault in a car accident with a judgment of $1 million against you and, your car insurance covers only the first $250,000, an umbrella policy can pick up the rest of the slack.

Are you a new home owner, or planning to become a first-time home owner? Have you had some interesting experiences which could benefit others in your position? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.

Planning to buy or sell a home in the Ottawa County area? Real Living Morgan Realty Group, based in Historic Downtown Port Clinton, provides exemplary service, based on our core values of knowledge, teamwork, community, and excellence. Contact the Real Living Morgan Realty Group today to discuss your Ottawa County real estate needs; we are the Premier Service Diamond real estate company of Ottawa County!

Pricing your house to actually sell!

We have noticed a pattern while reviewing sales data — those houses that were priced right actually sold relatively quickly.

Unfortunately most sellers typically price them using methodology that has no bearing on the market. Many a house’s price is based erroneously on items such as a seller’s needs, what he paid for it, or what he owes on it. It may be heartbreaking to admit, but buyers do not care what the owner paid or owes.

More pricing pitfalls for sellers include believing their property is unique, that others gave theirs away, or that market trends have no relevance. Sometimes sellers are misinformed, relying on their friends, neighbors, other agents or the Internet.

An overpriced house does not get exposure and those potential buyers who do see it are discouraged from making offers. Prospects who learn about an overpriced property get turned off. Consider too that a lending institution will only finance a home based on its real value.

A properly priced house should sell within six months. If during the first month or two there are few showings and no acceptable offers, then the property is priced too high, and a price adjustment of 10 percent may be warranted.


Rates still low!

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5 percent this week, after breaking the 5 percent mark last week for the first time in nearly a year, according to the Freddie Mac weekly mortgage market survey. Last week, the 30-year mortgage rate averaged 5.05 percent.

“Fixed mortgage rates eased slightly this week and continue to be very affordable,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist. “Prior to 2009, interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages had never been at 5 percent since our survey began in April 1971. In both 1981 and 1982, the rates were over three times as high as they are today. … The housing market is struggling to regain traction despite still historically low rates.”

Here’s how other rates fared for the week:

  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.27 percent, down from last week’s 4.29 percent.
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.87 percent, down from last week’s 3.92 percent.
  • 1-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.39 percent, up slightly from last week’s 3.35 percent.

Source: “30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Drops to 5 Percent,” Freddie Mac (Feb. 17, 2011)


The REAL facts!

 \”Gotta Be Real\” by Cheryl Lynn

Morgan Realty Group Joins Real Living, One of the Nation’s Most Innovative and Leading Real Estate Companies

‘Real Estate is Changing and We Are Too,’ said Jeff Morgan, Whose Firm Services Ottawa, Erie, and Sandusky Counties 

 Port Clinton OH Feb 11, 2011 – Real Living Morgan Realty Group, a leading provider of real estate services in Ottawa County announced today that it has been named the newest Real Living franchisee, and now joins the award-winning brand and a network of residential real estate offices nationwide.

 Real Living Morgan Realty Group, formerly Morgan Realty Group GMAC Real Estate, is now part of one of the fastest-growing real estate networks in the United States, known for its suite of online tools for consumers and agents. 

 Since 2002 when Real Living was founded, the company has built a solid reputation as a consumer-friendly brand focused on staying one-step ahead of consumers’ needs during these ever-changing times in real estate.

 “We’ve admired Real Living for quite some time and when the opportunity presented itself to make the change, we knew it was the right decision and a great fit for our agents and their clients,” said Jeff Morgan. 

 “Real estate is changing and we are proud to be leading the efforts to change things for the better.  Consumers in Ottawa County can still expect the same great service from a locally owned real estate firm, but one that is now backed by the national strength and tools from Real Living,” said Morgan.

 “I can’t begin to explain how excited we are to have Real Living Morgan Realty Group join the Real Living network,” said Harley E. Rouda, Jr, President of Real Living.  “The company has an incredibly strong local presence, excellent customer service and high level of professionalism, which makes for an ideal partner for us,” Rouda added.   

 Morgan said, “Look for our new red yard signs which will be popping up all over town as we transition to the next generation of real estate services.”  “Real estate is changing and so are we.”

 For more information, to find an agent or to search for a home, go to:  http://www.RealLivingMorganRealtyGroup.com

 About Real Living Morgan Realty Group as a TEAM serving the home buying and selling needs of individual and families, the Morgan Realty Group focus on giving each and every Client the attention and care they deserve during this important transition.  It’s about treating Clients like family.  Whether you’re selling property or looking to buy, trust the Morgan Realty Group to help you reach your goals.  Discover the power of Families Helping Families!   Real Living Morgan Realty Group is located at 100 S Jefferson Street Port Clinton OH 419-732 -0941.

 About Real Living
Real Living is a full-service real estate company with a comprehensive and integrated suite of resources and services for franchisees, sales professionals, and consumers. Real Living was named one of the best new franchisors by Entrepreneur magazine. The firm also won the Inman Innovator Award and was named, “The Most Promising New National Brand,” by the Swanepoel TRENDS Report. For more information, visit http://www.realliving.com.

It is almost here!

Welcome Home Grant (up to $5000) will be available starting March 1st. This is only a brief overview of the Welcome Home program. Complete details, limits, requirements, and guidelines are contained in Attachment H of the 2011 AHP Implementation Plan, and in the 2011 Welcome Home Guide.
Uses of Funds. This is a general description of the program. Complete information and documents are available at http://www.fhlbcin.com.

Welcome Home grants are used to fund reasonable down payments and closing costs incurred in conjunction with the acquisition or construction of owner-occupied housing by low- and moderate-income homebuyers. The grants are limited to $5,000 per homebuyer and members are subject to an aggregate limit of $200,000 per offering. All funds are reserved for specific homebuyers purchasing specific homes and cannot be transferred to other homebuyers or to other homes.