My home’s not selling, what’s wrong with it?

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

You've put your home on the market and although potential buyers are coming to view the property in their droves, they don’t seem to be making any offers. So what's the problem?

Unfortunately there are things that put buyers off and the simplest of mistakes could have them running for the hills. Here's a list of the more common property turn-offs:

The wrong price
Overpricing is one of the main reasons a property won't sell. Selling a home shouldn't be viewed as a gamble and as such putting a property up for sale at an inflated figure because you ‘want to test the market’ or because you are ‘willing to negotiate’ could backfire horribly. Most buyers won't bother going to view a home that is more expensive than similar properties in the area and those who do will quickly realise that the less expensive options they’ve already seen are far more viable.

Overlooking maintenance issues
It's the small things that often catch a buyer’s eye. A broken gate or leaking taps are often an instant turnoff, possibly because buyers assume that if the seller can't attend to the small jobs around the home, there must be bigger, perhaps hidden problems that he's neglected to fix elsewhere on the property.

Untidy or dirty kitchens and bathrooms
Both these areas are extremely personal spaces. Buyers may well be able to overlook the stains on the carpet, but the idea of bathing in a grimy tub is going to put some off. Likewise, the thought of cooking a meal in an untidy, dirty kitchen is probably going to stop any deal dead in its tracks.

Over-enthusiastic sellers
Sellers who have employed an agent to sell their home need to leave them alone and allow them to do their jobs. Most of us don't like pushy people and having the seller dog one’s every move tends to be a huge turn off. Even those who are selling without the assistance of an estate agent need to give the buyer a little space. While it's important to point out certain features, don’t offer a running commentary - rather let the home speak for itself, and only answer questions when asked directly.

Smelly homes It needs to be remembered that we don't necessarily have the same sense of smell as visiting strangers, simply because we are used to the odours in our homes. Pets in particular can be hugely problematic in this regard and it's highly advisable to get the carpets cleaned and vacuumed, and wash pet bedding in order to eliminate any unpleasant animal odours. Greasy kitchens also have a distinct smell and it's advisable to thoroughly clean stoves, ovens, tiles and walls to remove any oily residue.

Scruffy gardens
Beautiful gardens often clinch deals, regardless of whether or not the buyer is an avid gardener. If you don't have green fingers it may be an idea to call on a garden service to tidy up the borders and mow the lawn. Entertainment and/or pool areas should be neat and tidy and the pool should be free of leaves and algae. The cushions on the outdoor furniture should be clean and any broken furniture removed. Buyers like to visualise themselves relaxing around the pool with friends and family and the idea that the area is seldom used by the current owners could lead them to ask why.

Remove the clutter
Yes, we know everyone knows this, but surprisingly it's still one of the biggest turnoffs for potential buyers. Whether you box it, bin it or store it, take a page out of the experts’ book and declutter the entire home.

Although not everyone is going to like your home, there will be someone who is going to consider living there. Try to remember what features appealed to you when you first saw the property and do everything necessary to ensure that potential buyers see the same.

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