As COVID-19 restrictions continue to limit access to listings, hopeful homebuyers are relying more than ever on the internet to help them shortlist homes. Sellers and their listing agents must be careful to ensure those internet views portray the home in its best light.

With startling parallels to online dating, selling a home today is dramatically different than just a few short years ago. In the same way those looking for a partner must be careful about the image they present on online dating platforms, homesellers must also learn how to manage the 7-10 seconds they will be given by a potential buyer.

If a buyer sees something they do not like, it’s “swipe left” and on to the next home.

10 digital turnoffs

To maximize online views, here are the top 10 buyer turnoffs to avoid:

1. Horrible pictures

In preparing recently to teach a class on prepping listings for market, I went to our local MLS to find examples of “bad” pictures. I was amazed at how quickly I found more than I could use: The MLS was littered with horrific examples that were out of focus, did not have enough light, showed toilet seats up and more.

Because lousy pictures are the No. 1 reason buyers skip listings, a professional photographer is a great investment.

2. Clutter

If buyers cannot see a room for the clutter, they will not hang around. Because sellers need to pack for their move anyway, it’s best if they get all extraneous items out before the home hits the market.

3. Dirt

Would you want to visit a dirty home in today’s COVID-19 environment? If our sellers cannot get a home clean enough, we will send in our own cleaning crew (at our expense) to get things shipshape.

4. Lack of light

Dark rooms are a huge turnoff. When we list homes, we remove heavy curtains or other window coverings that prevent light from filling a space and install enough lighting fixtures with our staging to ensure adequate light in every room.

We also use lighting that illuminates at the warmer end of the color spectrum — 2700 Kelvins is perfect. A Kelvin rating higher than 4000 produces lighting that can appear bluish and usually does not look good in pictures.

5. Religious items

Some sellers like to display crosses or items with religious sayings or Bible verses. In our region, we even have homes with rooms or closets converted to temples, grottos, prayer rooms and more. It is best to remove all religious symbols, icons and so on.

6. ‘Retro’ rooms

Most homebuyers today do not want to upgrade a home after the purchase and will pay a premium for turnkey homes with modern amenities. Updated kitchens and baths are considered “must-have” features for today’s buyers. They are also looking for hardwood or laminate floors, dual pane windows and ceilings with “popcorn” removed.

7. Outdated countertops

Today’s buyers want quartz or granite. If a home has tile or laminate counters, some buyers will not be willing to pay the cost of upgrading and will move on to the next listing.

8. Bizarre paint colors

Bright orange, canary yellow, firetruck red, Barney purple, shocking pink, neon green, charcoal black and, ironically, stark white are usually immediate turnoffs. Although color is currently “in,” buyers are looking for soft, warm shades, not eye-peeling hues.

9. Wall coverings

For the most part, wallpaper and wood paneling are “so yesterday” and provide an excuse for buyers to move on to other listings. Although some wallpaper might actually be OK, most of the wallcoverings we see have bunnies or other dated motifs, which really should be removed before the home hits the market.

10. Unkempt exteriors

Wild landscaping, dead lawns, trees with large branches leaning over rooftops, overgrown patches, clogged gutters with standing weeds and similar items present buyers with challenges many will not want to handle.

In the current pandemic world, homeowners intent on selling quickly and for the highest possible price need to work hard to remove objections that prevent buyers from staying on their listing long enough to schedule a showing.

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.

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