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KIRO Radio's Tom Kelly digs deep into the Puget Sound real estate market
Real Estate

Five ways a home can turn off buyers

Bankrate.com recently featured a list of the top ways buyers back away from a home listed for sale. Its list includes these items, among others:

1. Odors: "Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors," said Julie Dana, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell. "I advise my clients not to cook fried food, fish, or greasy food while the house is on the market. ... Interestingly, next to the kitchen, the smelliest room in the house is actually the living room. That's typically the room that has the most fabric, so that is where odors get absorbed." She recommends having curtains and upholstery cleaned, particularly if someone in the home is a smoker, and taking steps to eliminate any pet odors.

2. Old fixtures: You need to change out old fixtures in your house. Outdated ceiling fans and light fixtures should be replaced before listing a home. New cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, but it makes a huge difference.

3. Wallpaper: When buyers see wallpaper, they think of another thing to add to their to-do list, said Dana. "Wallpaper is extremely personalized. You've spent hours looking over books to pick out the wallpaper you want. What are the odds that the person walking in the door will also like that wallpaper that you picked out?"

4. Popcorn acoustic ceilings: These ceiling were popular in the 1960s and 1970s but now can date a home. Still, it can be a mess and costly to remove, so real estate professionals say sellers may need to be prepared to credit a buyer in certain markets if they decide to keep the popcorn ceiling when selling a home.

5. Too many personal items: Cluttered homes make it difficult for buyers to see past the home owner's belongings and start envisioning themselves there. "Anything that makes your house scream 'you' is what you don't want," Dana said. "I tell all my clients that how we decorate to live and how we decorate to sell are different, and right now, we're decorating to sell."

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