Selling a home can be a long, time- consuming process, especially if the seller and potential buyers butt heads. Sometimes, the issues behind a deal-making deadlock are legitimately big. Other times, they simply aren’t. So here are some of the pettiest problems that can sabotage a home sale.
Missing Cover Plates
When you’ve lived in a house for a long time, sometimes little things go missing that are easy to forget about, especially when those little things are in rooms that aren’t used a ton. For people seeing a house with fresh, about-to-plunk-down-a-bunch-of-money eyes, however, these little things can seem significant.
One of the funniest requests we get is for sellers to replace missing cover plates on light switches and outlets. Usually, sellers are missing plates in places like laundry rooms and other places that aren’t used that much. While the fix is cheap and easy for sellers, make sure not to let such a small issue stand in the way of a purchase.
A buyer sees a house and falls in love. Between the offer and the final walk-through, however, the sellers finish moving out and, to them, that includes the blinds, rods, and/or drapes. This can spell for big trouble. When looking at a property, buyers incorporate window dressings into their overall impression of the house. It’s part of the all-important connection. And if they are not clearly excluded in the contract, window dressings belong to the home. Most of the time, the seller will agree to replace or reimburse the missing items. But if a seller refuses, we’ve seen it become a contentious issue that threatens the entire deal – even though you’ve made it to the walk-through.
Dead Lightbulbs and Batteries
Another common request sellers should be prepared for is to replace light bulbs and smoke detector batteries. These might seem inconsequential, but they help make a home feel move-in ready in a really basic way. Refusing to replace them can be an unnecessary way to kill a sale.
Weird Odors, Jiggle Handles, and Other Small Details
Seemingly inconsequential issues can often be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. Since sellers have often lived in the house for years, it’s easy for these small details to fade from their awareness.
Sellers should also understand the keys to making a good first impression with potential buyers. To start with, most sellers have lived in their home for many years and no longer have a first impression. While the seller may have grown accustomed to the litter box odor, the jiggling handle on the back sliding door, or the mismatched paint in parts of the house, prospective buyers do not want to encounter these things. In aggregate they will kill further interest from buyers.
Due diligence is vital when buying a home, but especially when it comes to older homes, it’s important to be realistic. Floors in vintage homes that are not level as a prime example of this kind of misguided quest for perfection among some prospective buyers. Also, not all of these concerns stem from prospective buyers themselves and that somethings, home inspectors can contribute to the potential for problems.
The bottom line is that inspection is intended for major health and safety concerns only, so roof, sewer line, foundation problems, etc. If you love the house, particularly if it’s a vintage home, talk with your agent about what constitutes a reasonable inspection objection, and don’t create problems where there aren’t any. Also, find a great home inspector! So many problems are created by subpar home inspectors. Be savvy, rely on your agent, and do your own homework on inspectors.
Sometimes potential buyers might have their heart set on something that’s not really a part of the house that’s being sold. In fact, something as small as a $100 foosball table can be the cherry on top that can make or break a deal.
Oftentimes, completing an agreement between a buyer and seller will come down to a seemingly very small term in the contract or ask. These types of issues, which might seem petty on the surface, are oftentimes rooted in buyers or sellers psychologically wanting to feel like they got a final win before the deal closes. Successfully navigating these last-minute complications is what good real estate agents do. Good real estate agents are also a therapist and need to consistency aim for mutual assent between the parties.