15 Ways to NOT Sell Your House: Real Life Stories about Real Sellers that Really Didn’t Want to Sell

15 Ways to NOT Sell Your House:  Real Life Stories about Real Sellers that Really Didn’t Want to Sell

by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP – President & CEO, Stagedhomes.com

  If your house is on the market and you don’t want it to sell – here are some tips you should consider.
  1.  Keep all your personal stuff out in plain sight. Clutter makes buyers feel right at home and hides all the real selling features of your house.  They will probably layer up their counters and floors with stuff so just let the Buyer see how the house will look when they live in it too.
BaumOfficeBefore REAL STORY: This was one of my clients known as “Dr. Bill.”  He had papers strewn all over his floors, coming out of tubs, down hallways, all over the counters.  It was “incredible!”  This was a bedroom but you cannot tell by the photo.  
  1. Area rugs – more is better! Hide the hardwood or tile floors throughout your house with area rugs – and don’t worry if they don’t match. Letting the buyers hop-scotch from one rug to the next is FUN!
IMG_3704 REAL STORY:  What is it with homeowners that put a million area rugs all over. If you don’t want your wood floors, put in carpet!  This particular seller had 38 rugs in her house – all sizes (I counted).  
  1. Make sure to keep oddities and strange things on display. It gives buyers something to talk about and remember your house by recalling that item. Forget all the selling features you want them to remember your collectible.  Killed a moose in the wild with your son?  Great – keep that up on the wall with the large eyeballs following Buyers through the house.  Even better, hang the photos of your hunting expedition right under the moose head so they are sure to get the full story.
Jackapheasalope   REAL STORY:  This was a treasure that I found in a high-end house owned by a doctor.  Proudly on display at the entrance of the house in a niche, they could not understand why buyers would not appreciate the “Jack-a-phes-a-lope.”
  1. Don’t put any of your personal artwork away. If you have ones that are nudes that’s even better. That will tell Buyers that you are “free and easy” and don’t care about pretenses – and are super comfortable with yourselves.
  Naked Woman Painting Cropped   REAL STORY:  This is a painting that hung in the formal dining room of a very high-end house ($2.6M).  If you look closely enough you get too much of a view.  The seller had listed the house and it had not sold (surprise!).  The painting ended up leaving the dining room and a tasteful fruit bowl painting was put in its place.
  1. Keep all your family photos out so that Buyers can really get to know who you are. Your young children that go to school down the street will be recognizable by anyone seeing your house in person and online and it’s a great way for your kids to gain new adult friends!
Family photo wall   REAL STORY:  I had a client protest having to put away all her kid’s photos.  She said, “They are so cute, I don’t want to pack them up.”  Too many family photos give buyers too much information about you, your family, your interests, your background.  No one should be able to determine that much personal information about a seller.  
  1. Don’t make your beds or clean up when Buyers are coming. They’ve seen dirt and unmade beds before and if this is how you live they can either like it or go to the next house.
BaumBedroomBefore   REAL STORY:  This was a client that was too busy to be bothered to make the bed.  Anyone that is in the business has seen this – do they not know Buyers are coming through? Yes, I’d much rather look at your unmade, rumpled bed and clothes on the floor.  
  1. Don’t paint any of your walls – the colors you like have to be appealing to everyone. Darker colors you painted will make your rooms feel small – which actually means, “cozy,” right? Darker colors are good for “mood lighting” – after all who wants to see all the features of a room?
BaumDRBefore   REAL STORY: This client thought the walls were “fine” and the fact that she had accented the room with other red items made it even better.
  1. Wallpaper – who says you have to take it down?
You picked the pattern because you liked it so buyers should like it too.  In fact, if you’ve put wall paper up that matches the curtains, and also matches your fabric in the room – all the better because then Buyers can REALLY appreciate the pattern and thought you put into selecting the design. IMG_3680   REAL STORY:  These sellers could not get past the amount they’d invested in the wall paper. Taking it down seemed like a crime!  Notice how the striped curtains and striped chairs, area rug and wall paper all make the room spin? Where does my eye go? My eye goes “let’s get out!”
  1. Keep all your windows shut and blinds closed or nearly closed so that the house is nice and dark. It will take a moment for the Buyers’ eyes to adjust to the dim lighting in the house, but that will make them appreciate how private your house can be from the neighbors.  They don’t need to see the view from the windows – they saw it when they drove up to the house.
Dark Bedroom   REAL STORY:  Although the room itself is not bad from a Staging standpoint, having the blinds down, AND the curtains drawn over them is not a good selling point. Buyers immediately ask “what are you hiding?” 10.  Make sure to leave out air filters, fans, water filters and water jugs – Buyers want to know if the house they are thinking of buying will make them sneeze, have water that tastes bad, or doesn’t heat and cool properly. Give them the clues up front so that they can make sure to bring their fans, heaters, filters and jugs when they move in!  Extra bonus! When the buyer sees the large jug on the counter they’ll obviously think “Hey look at all the room!” 11.  Don’t bother cleaning up the yard or trimming your bushes and trees. They are just going to grow back so it’s better to let Buyers see how they will look that way than trim them down.  When they can’t see the house from the street it’s more of a “surprise” when they get around the limbs and bushes and see the front door for the first time.  When the trees and shrubs hide the windows of the house from the front it adds that special touch of privacy that every Buyer wants. 12.  If you are updating your house make sure to pick styles and colors from years gone by – they are nostalgic and will help Buyers feel that connection the past.  Brass fixtures really shine – and just scream 1980’s and who didn’t LOVE the 80’s? 13.  Follow potential Buyers around your house during a showing. They don’t need privacy and need to hear all the things you did over the years to personalize your house.  Tell them all about your pets, your children, all the stories that will make sure to leave an impression. 14.  Don’t put any photos of your house online. Keep it a mystery so that the “big reveal” happens when the Buyers come in person. 15.  Don’t Stage your House and list your house with a Realtor® – Staging doesn’t really matter and buyers can look past my stuff.  You can just watch a TV show and figure out what to do innately.  And Realtors – they don’t do much anyway and you can just do it yourself. Marketing can’t be all that hard and the paperwork if you get an offer doesn’t have any legal issues at all. It’s a cinch!! (please note I am being sarcastic – and value Realtors and what they do greatly!) Follow these 15 tips and you are assured of sitting on the market much longer than needed and/or not selling at all!

2 thoughts on “15 Ways to NOT Sell Your House: Real Life Stories about Real Sellers that Really Didn’t Want to Sell

  1. So true! I love #3, I had a client who had a deer head along with photos of the hunt in the foyer so people could get “the whole story”!

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