Selling a House? Consider These 5 Dangers of Showing It
To our readers: Through November, Americans bought more than more than 59 million new and existing homes in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors. That means other Americans were selling homes. And while there’s lots of advice about buying homes, advice on selling a house isn’t as common. Today, GoodCall examines some often-hidden dangers. A future article will discuss factors that can hinder a sale.
You’ve found just the right house, made an offer on it and had it accepted. That’s great – except for the one left behind. The house left behind, that is. Yes, chances are selling a house could still be on your to-do list. That can take months. At least until you close on your new place, you’ll have to be open to strangers tromping through your current living quarters.
You know they’re judging you when they do, mentally if not more, criticizing color schemes, knickknacks and other items throughout the home. But you have more at stake than getting your feelings hurt by prospective buyers. Following are some of the risks you could face while showing and selling a house so you can move to the new one:
Uncontrolled clutter hurts selling a house
Lauren Haynes, a cleaning and home organizing expert with Star Domestic Cleaners, says one thing will turn off any visitor – including a prospective buyer. “Nobody likes a messy home, so you have to make sure the house is properly decluttered. Remove everything without a practical purpose or the stuff which doesn’t contribute to the overall look of the property.”
Of course, keeping a home spotless all the time isn’t realistic. “Always follow the top-to-bottom and left-to-right rule for each room in the house,” Haynes says. “Then you should focus on the top eye catcher places and things, where the potential buyers will look at first. Things like floors, kitchen appliances and bathrooms definitely get attention.”
But clearing the clutter also removes a lot of the opportunity for visitors to trip and fall over toys, furniture and other items. Remember, you could be sued if toys or tools you’ve left out cause a buyer to slip and fall. While standard home insurance typically includes liability insurance, which would help – up to the policy limits, no one wants the lawsuit experience.
Worse than its bite
If you have a dog, either crate it or arrange to have a friend or neighbor keep it while strangers are touring the house. There definitely can be problems otherwise, says Susan Chace, a real estate agent with VIP Concierge Real Estate Services in Seattle. “Pets can be an issue as well since they don’t know the agent and buyers and can cause stress and startle clients with the barking.”
A dog that would never bite while you are there could be upset by strangers checking out your stuff. Remember, the average dog bite settlement exceeds $37,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Dogbites aren’t the only issue. “Not everyone is a pet lover and do not tolerate the fur, dander, or pet odor,” Chace says.
Too much temptation
Remember, these people are strangers. Don’t leave valuables – including currency or jewelry – out where people can see them, particularly during an open house when scrutiny of visitors won’t be as tight. Lock up anything valuable. You should do the same for prescription medicines as well.
Ryan Fitzgerald, owner and real-estate professional at Raleigh (NC) Realty, warns against one common selling tactic. “Don’t have open houses. There is no benefit to a seller to have an open house. The benefit of an open house is so that the Realtor can use your home as a ‘store’ to attract buyers and generate leads. An open house is not going to sell your house, but it will put you at risk of having things stolen!”
Brad Chandler, CEO and co-founder of Express Homebuyers in Springfield, VA, says prospective buyers aren’t the only people who can succumb to temptations: “Over the last several years, I heard multiple stories that will really make your head turn. One local realtor was caught on camera using client homes for sexual encounters. … there have been recent incidents of Realtors stealing items from houses.”
A shot in the dark
You also should lock up any weapons in the home – you should do this anyway – if prospective buyers are coming to look at the house. Theft, of course, is one concern, but there also is the chance of a shooting involving one of your weapons.
You’ve never gotten around to some of those long-needed repairs – a loose stair or stair railing, for example – that you should have made. Now you figure you’ll just leave them to the next owner.
It’s a bad idea. That loose stair or stair railing could result in an accident that injures a prospective buyer. And the resulting lawsuit – as is true in many of these examples – could delay the sale, leaving you with a double mortgage payment for longer than necessary.
The odds of any of these things happening might be low. But they’re not zero, and it’s better to get out in front of potential problems.