BY LISA SCONTRAS
Remove cobwebs. Fix squeaky door hinges. Chase away unwelcome spirits. Check, check and check.
Even if you own a house of horror, staging your home will make your listing more appealing, solicit more offers and likely net you more money when you sell.
But sometimes it is the less obvious details that can give buyers the creeps.
Imagine a willing and able buyer walking up to a beautifully staged home freshly painted, meticulously landscaped, the scent of home-baked cookies wafting from a sparkling kitchen as you enter the front door and then being greeted by a pair of huge and intimidating pit bulls! No matter how loving your dogs may be, this type of unexpected greeting would put a fright into most buyers.
Jo Frasier, Realtor and partner at Prudential Locations, recalls such an experience.
“I was showing a home in Hawaii Kai that had nine large dogs, mostly Rottweilers,” says Frasier. “They were friendly, but scared the living daylights out of my clients.”
Rene Castro, Realtor Associate at Prudential Locations, tells of another kind of horrifying experience when he took buyers to Mililani to see a few condos.
“We pulled up to one of the condos I had scheduled to tour and saw at least nine people come out of the condo and pile into a truck,” remembers Castro. “We got to the front door to find out there were even more tenants waiting for me to open the door.
“We walked through the kitchen getting dirty stares from the four people sitting in the kitchen,” he continues. “I was leading my clients as we walked up the stairs; every step started creaking. As I stepped on the third step, the floor gave way underneath me and I fell right through. Needless to say, my clients and I ran out of the building as if it were haunted!”
These situations can be avoided, but the trick is to make your home showing a treat for prospective buyers. Experienced Realtors have noticed the horror on buyers’ faces when they see something that makes them turn around and walk out of a home and on to another. Professional real estate agents know what works and what doesn’t. And in this market, more than ever, their advice can protect you from the hobgoblins who occasionally haunt listings.
Bonnie Coen, Realtor and associate partner with Prudential, says no stories are quite as bad as some of the creepy things she has seen while showing homes to buyers.
“Once, we went into a master bedroom and the owner had forgotten to flush yikes!” says Coen. “In another home I turned over a floor board and there were hundreds of live termites crawling around. And in still another, I found a dead rat’s skeleton in a hoarder’s house that had magazines stacked to the ceiling. We had to walk through a specific path to get from one room to another.”
Home-buying nightmares include finding rat traps along the outside of the house or, even worse yet, inside. These are not only telltale signs of pest problems, but also possibly an indication of how the home has been maintained.
“Inside the home, turnoffs include horrible odors,” says Megan Sunahara Tune, Realtor with Prudential Locations. “Pet smells, too much air freshener, clutter, collections of odds and ends, stained carpets, dead geckos or roaches on the floor, a bucket under the kitchen sink or stains on the ceilings are frightful.”
And while Rule No. 1 is to keep the house clean, bright, fresh and spotless, pricing a property correctly is an essential part of maximizing returns when selling your home.
Bernie Tong, Realtor and partner with Prudential Locations, tells another kind of horror story:
“I had been talking to a prospect about selling his house for about a year,” she says. “He went with an agent who discounted the commission, so she did no marketing, not even an open house, listed it too low and sold it instantly for almost full price $60,000 less than it should have sold.
“(But) he saved $8,600 in commission.”