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4 Small Issues That Can Have a Big Impact During an Open House or Walkthrough

Author: Wendy Helfenbaum

Potential buyers want to tour a beautiful space where they can envision themselves living. That’s why it’s so important for sellers to present a property that’s been staged to look inviting enough so offers roll in. However, it doesn’t take much to turn buyers off—even the tiniest details can derail all your hard prep work. Here are four red flags to watch out for—and fix—before buyers enter your home.

1. Dirt and clutter

You only get one first impression to showcase your property, and it doesn’t cost a dime to clean and declutter the entire house, says Brittany Evans, a REALTOR® and salesperson with Chestnut Park Real Estate brokerage in Muskoka, Ontario.

“In a buyer’s mind, if it’s clean, the homeowner has taken great care of the home and has pride in it, but if it doesn’t look well-maintained, buyers wonder what else they are not taking care of,” she says.

2. Strange noises and smells 

Squeaky floors, noisy ceiling fans, creaking stairs, rattling door handles, a toilet that runs endlessly—you may not even notice these things after living in your home for years. But buyers will take note, says Evans. The same goes for latent smells, like pets, smoking, or cooking.

“A loose doorknob or leaky faucet could suggest the house hasn’t been maintained,” she notes. “Also, make sure there are no deodorizers or wall plug-ins throughout the house. They’re so overpowering, the buyer’s mind gets taken away from looking at the property. Plus it makes them wonder what you’re hiding.”

3.  Things that don’t work properly

Turn on all lights in the house to make sure everything’s in good working order, suggests Evans. Good lighting shows your house off at its best. To make it more attractive, replace stark LED bulbs with soft white ones instead, she adds.

Repair or replace anything that’s broken, including chipped bathroom tiles, a cracked window in the basement, a doorbell that doesn’t ring, or a kitchen cabinet that doesn’t close well. Buyers don’t like seeing a giant to-do list when visiting a property.

“These simple fixes don’t cost a lot of money, but can cause buyers to walk away from purchasing a home,” explains Evans. 

4. Missing components

Buyers don’t want to begin their new lives in your house by replacing things that should have been there in the first place. 

“I’ve had deals come down to the day before closing during our final walkthrough, where the screens aren’t on the windows; that can create a much bigger issue,” warns Evans. 

If you recently removed wall-to-wall carpets and had the hardwood floors redone, don’t forget to put baseboard moldings back on, for example. 

“Even something like electrical covers matters. If some are missing or there’s paint on them, they cost a dollar each—just fix it,” she says.

Your REALTOR® can be a second set of expert eyes

Working with an experienced REALTOR® can help you get your home ready by spotting all these issues early on.

“We’re here to help you create a task list of what you need to do, and we also bring in people to help you,” says Evans. “You’re not in this alone; your REALTOR® will give you their honest opinion on what needs to happen to get the most people through your front door.”

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