The Austin real estate market is red hot as we all know - 2 months of inventory, 3000-plus people per month moving to town, and homebuilders struggling to pick up the pace and meet demand. Nice resale homes under $200,000 and priced right sell in days, if not hours. Homes in the 200s and 300s and 400s can sell just as fast depending on price, condition, and location.

As forgiving (and desperate) as buyers are in this intense seller's market, it's still possible to turn them off and have them walk away from your home! It's true that houses are selling for prices Austinites haven't seen since the Dot Com Boom, but have you noticed their awesome online photos? So many of the homes currently on the market look like model homes - both online and in person, when I open their front door for my clients. These houses sell immediately for top dollar. Through HGTV and a wealth of online information, it seems like everyone is in tune with what it takes to sell a home.

So what can blow it for you when you want to sell your home? Realty Times and Blanche Evans recently published the 5 Biggest Turn-offs for Homebuyers and here they are:

  1. Overpricing for the market. Hard to do in our market - you might have gotten greedy. Appraisers still have the final say and your sale price can be what I call "appraisal-limited".
  2. Smells. If your home smells it's a giant sign that says "make me a lowball offer", or "investors wanted". Fix at all costs. 
  3. Clutter. Second only to smells for buyer turn-offs - but the easiest to remedy! Your home needs to be de-personalized and opened up by removing extraneous furniture and allowing the buyers to see the proportions of the rooms. The goal is always to make your home look like a professionally decorated model home. Make sure you have plenty of counter space and closet space. 
  4. Deferred maintenance. I don't like this one at all, I can't say "lovingly maintained" and "lightly lived in" when the chimney's rotted, the window seals are broken and the air conditioner is wheezing.
  5. Dark, dated decor. Buyers want your home instead of a new home because of cost and location, and perhaps school district (also location). But the gold and green from the seventies, light blue and mauves from the eighties and jewel tones from the nineties date your home. As do wood paneling, wallpaper and popcorn ceilings. When you're behind the times buyers don't want to join you. They want to be perceived as savvy and cool. Let me say this, Austin has some outstanding 70's and early 80's era neighborhoods (a major boom time in our history) and many of these homes have limited or partial updates. If they are clean, well-maintained, have updated flooring and recent paint they will sell if priced accordingly. They won't sell at the "beautifully remodeled" price of the home down the street, but they will sell.