This article from RealtyTimes written by Blanche Evans is still pertinent even in the seller’s market we’ve been experiencing in San Antonio for over a year. One of the ways I get bargains for my buyer clients is to look at the days on market. If the house starts out overpriced, it will not sell in the vital first few days it’s listed and can linger on the market longer than the average days (4.1 months as of April, 2014 for San Antonio). Other items Blanche mentions also mean a seller can lose ground in their negotiating position due to time on the market. Remember, buyers will see a lot of houses—make sure yours stands out and for the best reasons!



Written by Blanche Evans

A lot of sellers don’t listen to their real estate agents, so we’ll tell you what your agent wants to say, but can’t say to you and this is it - your agent can’t get you the price you want unless your home is in pristine move-in condition.

That means no sticking drawers in the kitchen. No leaning fences. No rust-stained plumbing fixtures. We could go on, but maybe we need to make it clear. If you have even one of following “turn-offs,” your home won’t sell.

Buyers can get instantly turned off. Here are their five biggest turn-offs:

1. Overpricing for the market

2. Smells

3. Clutter

4. Deferred maintenance

5. Dark, dated décor

Overpricing your home

Overpricing your home is like trying to crash the country club without a membership. You’ll be found out and escorted out.

If you ignored your agent’s advice and listed at a higher price than recommended, you’re going to get some negative feedback from buyers. The worst feedback, of course, is silence. That could include no showings and no offers.

The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home won’t see it because they’re shopping in a lower price range. The buyers who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.


Smells can come from a number of sources - pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more. You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done. [Some people are especially sensitive to smells. I've had buyers want to leave the minute they walked in the door because of smells. I've also had buyers leave a home early because the dog was loose and nervous and/or barking. So even if you've got the pet smells under control, make sure your pet feels as safe and secure as you can help them feel. —Deborah]

There’s not a buyer in the world that will buy a home that smells unless they’re investors looking for a bargain. Even so, they’ll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells. If they find anything like undisclosed water damage, or pet urine under the “new” carpet, then they will either severely discount their offer or walk away.


If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, buyers’ attention is going to more focused on running the gauntlet of your living room without breaking any Hummels than in considering your home for purchase.

Too much furniture confuses the eye - it makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of rooms. If they can’t see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

Deferred maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart. Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home. Things wear out, break and weather, and it’s your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.

Your buyers really want a home that’s been well-maintained. They don’t want to wonder what needs to fixed next or how much it will cost.

Dated décor

The reason people are looking at your home instead of buying brand new is because of cost and location. They want your neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean they want a dated-looking home. Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it’s from a different era.

Harvest gold and avocado green from the Seventies; soft blues and mauves from the Eighties, jewel tones from the Nineties, and onyx and pewter from the Oughts are all colorways that can date your home. Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag or Berber carpet, and flocked wallpaper can also date your home. [Popcorn ceilings can be messy to remove in the updating process, and is the most common turn-off I hear about from buyers.—Deborah]

When you’re behind the times, buyers don’t want to join you. They want to be perceived as savvy and cool.

In conclusion, the market is a brutal mirror. If you’re guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it’s an investment that others should pay you to profit, you’re in for a rude awakening. You’ll be stuck with an asset that isn’t selling.

Your agent can help you see your house with new eyes. Your house has been your home, but you need to let potential buyers see the house for the home they could make of it. That means clearing out clutter and downsizing on personal items. If you’ve deferred maintenance, get it fixed now or pay for it later in the form of a lower price. A fresh coat of paint is not only an enticing smell, but can just make a house feel nicer. We’ve also been seeing a lot of appraisals come in low in San Antonio (some in the tens of thousands) often because of lack of updating. Remember, the goal is to sell your house for the best dollar and as quickly as possible.