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You know the drill. The doorbell rings. You take a deep breath, plump the cushions and throw one last scrutinizing glance around your show-ready home. Then you put on your game face and throw open the door.
” Hi!” you say to the prospective buyer and their agent. “Please, come in.”
So far, so good. But from this point onwards, every word that passes your mouth has the potential to kill your sale. And, as any real estate agent will testify, once you’ve put yourself in a sticky situation it’s almost impossible to talk your way out of it!
In an ideal world your super-professional, highly trained real estate agent would conduct all your showings. But even if you manage to clear out of the way and leave your agent to work her magic, those off-the-cuff comments you make to the buyer on your way out can still cause a lot of damage. Here are thetop ten things you should never say to a homebuyer, no matter how honorable your intentions.
1. We don’t really want to move, but…..
- My husband/wife died
- We’ve just outgrown the house
- We’re getting divorced.
These are all genuine reason for a home sale but they’re pretty much guaranteed to turn buyers off. The overwhelming majority of house-hunters have a phobia about moving into a property where someone died. Divorce is associated with arguments and misery, and buyers need to connect emotionally with the houses they buy. As for the size issue, a buyer might feel that your home is plenty big enough until you point out just how small it is for you. Your throwaway comment may inadvertently push them towards a bigger, more expensive home.
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2. You’ll love this neighborhood, it’s so….
You’re in dangerous territory talking about the neighborhood. Unless you know the buyer well–and the chances are you won’t–you may be selling the exact opposite of what the buyer is looking for. Don’t second-guess your buyer’s preferences based on their appearance, either. Even if the buyer has children, they may hate the idea of ball games in the street or hoards of kids knocking on their door every Halloween.
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3. You’re our [fill in the blank] showing!
- One hundredth
Whatever number you insert, discussing how many showings you’ve had leaves your situation open to all sorts of interpretations. Too few, and the buyer may think, “no one’s coming through the door, perhaps the price is too high.” Too many, and the buyer will think, “no one wants this home. I wonder what’s wrong with it?” Other people’s opinions weigh heavily on a home buyer’s purchasing decision. It’s best to keep quiet about showings, offers and any other feedback that potential buyers have made, and let this buyer make up their own mind.
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4. I’ve been meaning to clean that for ages, but…
Nothing turns off a buyer faster than a filthy house. Dirt and odors are the biggest deal killer and nothing you say to justify your home’s condition will change your buyer’s mind. There are no excuses here, folks. Go the extra mile and get busy with the carpet shampoo and the screwdriver. Then your buyer has no reason to talk about the condition of your home at all.
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5. You should try the local [fill in the blank.] It’s really great!
Stop! Your buyer may be of different faith or no faith at all. They may think that large coffee conglomerates are the root of all evil. Don’t assume that potential buyers will like your home or your neighborhood for the same reasons you do.
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6. The furnace/siding/roof is new.
New is a relative term. A two-year-old furnace may seem new to someone who put up with the old one for 20 years, but a buyer may be expecting something that is less than six months’ old. Your buyer will feel hoodwinked if they think you have misrepresented the facts.
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7. Well, you can’t have everything!
You’re probably right. Most home buyers have to make a choice between a master suite or a large yard, a double garage or a more affluent neighborhood. But it’s not your job to tell a buyer where they should compromise–it’s their agent’s. Buyers are notorious for having unrealistic expectations about the type of home they are going to be able afford in their price bracket. This is, however, their dream and it is important that you don’t disillusion them before their agent has a chance to help them make a sensible decision.
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8. We’re a bit short on ….
- Public transport links
- Kitchen space.
Honesty awareness campaigners may applaud your truth-telling, but what you’re actually doing is under-marketing your property. Sure, there are things about your home that annoy the heck out of you. But your job as home seller is to showcase your home in the best possible light and not point out its flaws. You may be moving because you can’t fit a table in the kitchen. Your buyer, on the other hand, may be renting a tiny studio apartment. They may be excited to have a kitchen at all.
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9.We’re under contract to buy another home
Being under contract for a new home means that you’re motivated to sell quickly. It also means that you have a lot to lose if you cannot sell your current home. Buyers know this, and may be tempted to throw in a low ball offer because they think you’re desperate to sell.
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10. Well, I’m sure we can negotiate on the price.
Yikes. Of all the foot-in-mouth comments sellers make, “price” conversations strike the most fear into agents’ hearts! Smart sellers negotiate, so being flexible on the price is a good thing. But price is just one component of a great offer. Giving way on the price without considering the rest of the offer means you may be losing out on valuable cash or giving a buyer false hope of a deal that’s never going to happen. Your agent is a buffer between you and the buyer, and they’re there to protect your investment. That’s why you hired them in the first place. The best answer a buyer’s tricky price questions? “You’ll have to speak to my agent about that.”
The key take away is this: leave the showings to your agent. Buyers hate it when sellers follow them around properties, offering up tidbits of information and coloring their perception of a home. Leave the house, make a phone call, hang back–do whatever you must to keep quiet–and let the buyer make up their own mind.