But the traditional March-through-May buying season can be a dud for sellers who don't deliver what they promise or who stand over buyers as they open cupboards and peek in bedrooms.
Here are five things that turn off prospective buyers:
A cluttered house or one that smells. When sellers have too many possessions, buyers have a hard time imagining themselves living there. Sellers should put their stuff in storage -- or move out altogether, if possible. Pet odors also are a big turn-off, as is a house that reeks of cigarette or cigar smoke.
False or misleading advertising. Sellers and their agents stretch the truth by claiming a home has four bedrooms, but the fourth room isn't a bedroom because it doesn't have a window and closet. One buyer was turned of to discover a home advertised as waterfront only had a water view.
Sellers not committed to selling. Some sellers want to test the market, then waffle when buyers show serious interest. Others ignore offers or are insulted by what they consider low bids. Wishy-washy sellers don't use lock boxes that give agents quick access, or they're not accommodating when it comes to scheduling the homes for showings.
Overpricing the house. Many sellers are too attached to their homes and think they're worth more than they are, agents say. Even though prices are beginning to stabilize, a seller who misses the target likely won't generate much interest. Before hiring an agent, interview several. They almost certainly will have documentation that shows what comparable homes in the neighborhood are selling for.
Sellers who stay for the showing. This is a pet peeve of buyers and agents, who say sellers should be long gone when prospective buyers show up. The buyers want to be free to tour the homes without the owners present. They don't want to carry on a conversation or listen to why the sellers think they should buy the house.
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