What turns a buyer off a property?

by Alistair Helm

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I have become an avid fan of watching the live-chat on Twitter facilitated each month by the leading Australian website Realestate.com.au. Come 7pm Eastern Time (Aus) on the last Monday of the month the twitter feed from @Realestate_au via the hashtag #PropChat becomes a kind of open-mike for issues around property and property marketing.

Last night the topic was "selling or thinking of selling your property". A variety of questions were posed;  for me the one that really resonated was Question 6: What turns a buyer off your property?  

Let me show you the responses as they appeared in the twitter stream - you will get a clear view of exactly what turns off prospective buyers: 


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The responses in someways do not surprise me, however what is clear from the comments is that people really do still experience such turn-offs! 

  • First impressions count
  • Cleanliness is paramount
  • Make the property smell clean and fresh
  • Remove clutter

These are all logical, but the other comments not related to the presentation of the actual property but how it is marketed are more  cutting: 

  • Insufficient information
  • Misleading advertising
  • Poor photography
  • No address
  • No price indication
  • Poor real estate agent

All of these complaints are directed at the agent, the very people offering a service contracted by the vendor to sell the property and yet time after time these failings can be found on  property listings. The listing is the first opportunity to present and market the property - today that's all about online presence and if you get that wrong what hope have you of getting someone to visit the property, thereby effectively killing the sale potential before it starts! 

Now let me share with you a personal experience of last weekend. Here is the short version of the story in the tweet I posted after inspecting a property which like the agent concerned will not be indentified. 

This was a grand Auckland property - perfectly photographed in a very appealing way. It had no open homes so I requested an appointment with the agent to view the property. 

We met the agent at the house at the appointed time. The agent ushered us in and proceeded to walk us round the property. The agent turned on one light in the property. I had to turn on lights in some rooms and bathrooms whilst the agent told us about the property - as ever things that you can see for yourself.

It was a cold day and the property felt cold despite having warm air ducted central heating. The agent even pointed this out to us as a feature! The agent even said that the owner often used the open fire in the living room - not today though! 

The place was not untidy, but it was not clean - that sense of nothing sparkling, everything covered in a film of grime. 

And then we came to the garden. The agent proudly declared that everything in the garden was edible! - well to my mind that was clear as there were half a dozen chickens clearly making the place their personal feeding ground. The property had been on the market a year earlier and in that year the garden had been decimated!

It could not have been a less motivating property viewing. It was a case that the sizzle created by the great photo was destroyed in not showcasing the property properly - a partnership requiring vendor and agent to work together. As the last comment from the PropChat session said "When your house hits the market it becomes a shop window" - don't turn buyers off before they find your property and when they come to view it make it an experience (a memorable and enjoyable experience)!