Sunday, April 21, 2019 / by Elizabeth Sorensen
First and foremost, Buyers feel very uncomfortable spending time in a stranger’s home with that stranger still in the home, let alone looking over their shoulder. The goal is to have the buyer feel immediately comfortable upon entering the home and create an atmosphere where they can linger and begin to imagine themselves and/or their family living in this home. Buyer’s love to snoop and look in closets and kitchen cabinets evaluating how they can utilize the potential use of space. They want to know how clean you’ve kept it, how well it has been maintained, how it smells, scrutinize your shower and look for water damage under your sink. They will absolutely not spend time evaluating and envisioning if you are present.
Next, it is very, very difficult for proud home owners to keep their mouths shut when trying to show off their home. Not only could your attempts to color their perceptions turn them off and make them uncomfortable, there is a high likelihood that your innocent comments can put you at risk for litigation. At the very least, your well-meaning statements often result in a loss of negotiating power. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked buyers through homes where the seller was there and willingly offered up tidbits of information that put my clients at the advantage.
Selling your home is a process tied to many emotions for you. Removing yourself from interaction with buyers is in your best interests. Negotiations should be made without all of the emotions involved and it is best left for your professional real estate agent to manage. Of course you will be the one deciding but your agent is able to see clearly and present all of the possible options without being clouded by heated emotions.
As an example, here are actual comments I’ve heard come out of seller’s mouths over the years and also the top 10 things you should NEVER say to a potential homebuyer.
1. We don’t really want to move, but…..
-We’ve really outgrown the house.
-We’re getting divorced.
Although these are common reasons for someone to sell their home, it’s a sure way to turn off potential buyers. Most house-hunters have phobias about a home where someone died. Divorce and marital problems have negative connotations with fighting and misery. Remember, you are trying to get your buyer to feel good when they tour your home. You want them to connect emotionally and get the “warm-fuzzies.” Sharing your marital problems is sure to be a serious downer for them. The buyer may feel that your home is plenty big enough for their needs, but your off-the-cuff comment that you’ve “outgrown the space,” may cause them to question that fact and inadvertently push them to a bigger, more expensive home.
2. You’ll love this neighborhood, it’s so….
You’re in dangerous territory talking about the neighborhood. You have no idea what the buyer may be looking for and your well-meaning comments may actually be selling the exact opposite of what the buyer is looking for. Don’t judge by the buyer’s appearance either. Even if the buyer has children, they may hate the idea of kids playing on their street and the sounds they associate with many children. They may not want to participate in weekly neighborhood BBQs and be best friends with everyone on the block and prefer instead to be left alone.
3. You’re our ________ showing!
Telling potential buyers how many showings you have had leaves the door open to all kinds of interpretations. Too little showings and in their mind- the price must be too high. If there has been a lot of showings and it is still available, then they begin to question whether there is something wrong with the property. The truth is, other people’s opinions have considerable weight on a buyer’s purchasing decision. It is in the seller’s best interest not to offer any information about showings, possible or actual offers and any other feedback that potential buyers have made, and let this buyer make up their own mind.
4. I’ve been meaning to clean that for ages, but…
A dirty home is a real turn-off for buyers. In fact, filth and odors are one of the biggest deal killers. If you’re not the cleanest person and this is an area of life that is a struggle for you, then you need to hire someone to do it for you. There’s no excuses to list your home without even bothering to clean it. For a few hundred dollars, you can hire a professional cleaner to detail your entire home, including all those hidden areas the buyers will be inspecting. Don’t give the buyer any reason to talk about the condition of your home.
5. We have the best local [fill in the blank.] It’s really great!
Never assume that the buyer will be of the same faith, political views, or even have the same tastes as you. Your well-meaning comment may inadvertently turn them off or give them the wrong impression of your neighborhood. Let them form their own opinions about the area and decide what is best for them.
6. The furnace/siding/roof is new.
New is a relative term. Five years may seem new to you since you replaced the roof after 30 years. Even a two year-old furnace may not be considered “new” to the buyer who is expects “new” to mean it was replaced in the last six months. Let your agent present the facts and avoid misunderstandings by your well-intentioned comments.
7. Well, you can’t have everything!
While this comment may be true. It is the buyer’s agents job to lead them to a sensible decision. Do not crush their dreams and tell them where they should compromise. Yes, they may be unrealistic about their expectations- most buyers are. Let their agent guide them through that process.
8. We’re a bit short on ….
-Public transport links
When selling your home, you should try to showcase the home in the best possible light. While you find the master bedroom lacking in space for your king-size poster bed, other buyers may be tickled to just have a master bedroom at all. Your storage needs may be much different than potential purchasers. Allow your agent to market your homes best features and let the buyers decide for themselves if the home meets their needs or not.
9.We’re already under contract to buy another home.
Nothing says “motivated seller” as much as this comment. You just spilled the beans and in the buyer’s mind you just became more desperate. They realized what you have at stake and will be more apt to put in a lower offer knowing you really need to sell. This is not information you want to share with buyers touring your home.
10. Well, I’m sure we can negotiate on the price.
Oh boy...this is the one that causes your agent’s heart to tremble. While a wise seller will always be willing to negotiate, there is so much more than the price that can be negotiated. There are so many components to an offer and giving the buyer false hope that you’re willing to come down in the price, will usually result in animosity and a spoiled deal where the buyer isn’t even willing to negotiate now. You hired an expert for a reason. Let them deal with those tricky questions and avoid any discussion regarding price or terms.
Trust Your Agent
Of course you should never lie to buyers, but the best policy is to let your agent handle discussions with the buyers. There are so many things a seller can innocently say that can turn a buyer off or even spoil the deal completely.
Your agent is an expert and a professional in their field. They know what needs to be disclosed and what is "TMI".
Even after reading this you still may be thinking that you can show off your home better than anyone else. However, your presence makes buyers very uncomfortable, greatly decreases your chances of getting a good offer, and puts you at risk of losing negotiating power. Listen to your agent and trust them be the buffer between you and potential buyers and watch them work their magic!