Halloween is just around the corner and many Lakes Region homes are adorned with fake cobwebs, skeletons, jack-o’-lanterns and other frightful decorations intended to spook the local trick or treaters. But what if your listed home has features that are unintentionally scaring away potential buyers just as surely as if your house were haunted?
Following are a few common home selling ghosts that can frighten buyers and haunt sellers, along with some fear-busting remedies:
The undead roof
Regardless of their actual backgrounds, many prospective home buyers peer and squint and become amateur roofing inspectors when they step out of the car to see a property. Roof concerns can scare them before they even step foot inside.
According to the actual roofing experts at the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association (NRCIA), a nonprofit organization that certifies over 1,100 roof inspectors, “Roof deficiencies are the most common problem reported by home inspection associations. Thirty percent of real estate inspection claims are due to roof leaks and water penetration. Thirty-nine percent of homeowner’s insurance claims are because of roof problems.”
The fear buster
If your home’s roof is nearing the end of its projected lifespan, replacement could help you close more quickly. Otherwise, you might be able to calm fears in prospective buyers by proactively communicating the facts on your roof’s age and construction.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that most roofing products are designed to last at least several decades under normal weather conditions:
- Asphalt shingles: about 20 years (though higher-quality asphalt shingles may be warrantied for up to 50 years)
- Architectural asphalt: about 30 years on average
- Wood shingles and shakes: estimated lifetime of 30 years
- Metal: The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors projects metal roofing to last 40 to 80 years
- Slate, concrete or clay tiles: rated for a life expectancy of 100 years or more
Research what the experts report regarding your roofing material’s life expectancy, and list in your seller’s disclosure when the roof was last updated. Sellers and listing agents cannot offer their own warranties on remaining roof life, but if you can provide evidence to suggest there may be years or decades left in the roof, you may be able to minimize fears in buyers.
Doors that shriek and moan when being opened, or that mysteriously resist opening are expected features in haunted houses, not in hunted houses. For all my clients and I know, the coat closet we were never able to open yesterday may have an actual skeleton inside!
But seriously, jammed windows and creaky doors can stop showing momentum and alarm buyers who want to invest their hard-earned money into a well-kept home.
The fear buster
Expect prospective buyers to open and close all doors (and possibly windows) in the home. Walk through the property pretending you are a curious buyer visiting for the first time.
WD40 is to squealing door hinges what holy water is to vampires. Get out the sandpaper and smooth down door edges so they open and close quietly and properly.
What’s avocado green and just won’t die? No, it’s not a zombie, it’s the 40 year-old oven in the Gilford property I showed last week.
While many prospective buyers don’t actually know roofs, they know outdated appliances when they see them, which can cause them to anxiously wonder what else needs replacing.
The fear buster
If your old, white refrigerator is yellowing like a mummy’s wrappings, or your stove top is harvest gold, it might be time to update to stainless steel. New appliances can have the exact opposite effect of old ones, sending a reassuring signal that you care about and for the property, potentially making buyers less anxious and more excited.
A “title” is the very important document that demonstrates ownership, so title problems can quickly spook buyers away.
For example, conveyance without a recorded deed sometimes happens during transfers between family members, which can later interfere with or even inhibit the sale of your home. Title research can reveal accurate or inaccurate liens, such as a paid-off mortgage that is still showing up as a valid lien on the property, or a “mechanic’s lien” that was filed for work done on the house by a subcontractor.
The fear buster
Just as I advise buyers to get preapproved, I advise sellers to be similarly proactive with regards to title.
Contact your title company, find out what you must do to prepare for selling, and address any issues promptly. Whether valid or invalid, listed liens must be addressed. It’s better to identify and address any issues early.
The Ghost of Odors Past
There’s an adage in real estate that says, “If I can smell it, I can’t sell it.” in the fertile imaginations of nervous prospective buyers, a musty smell can quickly evoke images of mold and mildew monsters lurking and spreading behind the walls.
The fear buster
You may have heard the term “noseblind” on those FeBreeze commercials. I looked into it. It’s an actual cognitive adaptation, a real condition! If you’re noseblind to the smell of your home, get an honest opinion from a friend, neighbor or your friendly neighborhood Realtor.
Then do whatever you must to tackle mustiness and other odors. Proactively address any mold and mildew buildup, pet urine on the carpet, or smoke odor.
The opposite of a haunted house experience is an inviting house. There’s nothing like entering a house and smelling something like fresh baked cookies, whether in the form of actual baked goods, or scented candles.
Have a happy Halloween, but if you’re going to spook anyone, make sure it’s trick or treaters, not prospective home buyers! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about buying or selling residential real estate that you’d like to see addressed in an upcoming article.
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.