Sellers Have Leverage Right Now, But Buyers Will Still Balk at These Things!

The worst kept secret in the real estate world right now is that it’s a seller’s market…meaning it is an environment where selling a home is not as difficult as in other markets. After all, sellers have the goods, right? There will be a line of buyers just dying to waive inspections, appraisals, pay WAY over ask and move in, right? Not so fast. While there is some truth to this and in 2020 I personally had a lot of success in getting the absolute best offer for my sellers, there are some sellers who take it too far and think putting a sign in the yard is enough to get top dollar. The truth is that buyers out there can overlook a lot, but no matter the market they will pause at the below items.

  1. Structural – From small cracks above your door frames (not a huge deal) to bowing foundation walls, there is a wide range of defects in this category. Most inspectors are not structural engineers and won’t professionally advise on the scarier stuff. Hiring an engineer is not cheap and even then, they have trouble signing off on things to make the buyer comfortable. These types of defects can be perilous to a seller if the buyer cannot be assured the home is safe.
  2. Moisture – From a mustiness in a basement to water flowing right through your foundation wall this category really scares people. Not only do people worry about flooding, agents should advise their clients about the long term effects of mold exposure. Buyers are often hesitant to take ownership of a home which has water issues because it usually isn’t a straightforward fix… it often requires troubleshooting and further exploration. The seller will sometimes be asked to fix prior to settlement, but even then the buyer is always gonna wonder every time it rains whether the issue will continue.
  3. Smells – Smoke, pet odor, moth balls, mold…you name it, I’ve dealt with it. Many agents will claim that an ionizer is a quick fix, but my experience is that it is merely temporary. The source of bad odors go beyond just cleaning the air. Usually these odors are embedded into the flooring, furniture and walls. This means wholesale change is required for removal and can be quite expensive depending on what you’re dealing with. A key here is that there is no partial approach here and you need to remove everything which contains the odor…I have had sellers put new carpet into a home with heavy pet odor and the carpets simply absorbed it wasting $1000s of dollars. Best to consult with someone prior to remediating this issue. Remember the odor is simply air and it gets into absolutely everything.
  4. Stucco – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE… if you have a stucco home, be sure your agent has past experience with it. I have done several deals representing both buyers and sellers involving bad stucco and it does not need to be a deal killer, but your agent needs to know their way around a stucco inspection report, be able to talk about it and have contractors if needed. If your home was built within the last 25 years (general rule), your agent should recommend a stucco inspection for sure. This is arguably the most costly potential repair for any seller and agents need to be able to talk about this in a way that exudes calm & confidence. Depending on certain factors, please note that a full stucco remediation can be anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 to remediate. (Yes, you read that right) Again, you need an agent who has the strategies to best deal with these issues to keep a buyer in contract.
  5. Bad Septic System – The more rural the area, the more likely there is to be a private sewer system (septic) on the property. Much like stucco, your agent should really understand this issue and you should verify this prior to hiring them as your agent. Most buyers will elect to inspect the system and often the seller will be responsible for fixing any issues since these can be costly repairs. The difference with stucco is that a septic system is underground and not necessarily straightforward to buyers which can give them some added hesitation. The last resort with a failed septic system is a total rebuild which will involve the county health department and engineers. This involves abandoning the old system and putting in a new one. In other words, lots of time and money. No bueno.
  6. Neighborhood – Sorry sellers, buyer still don’t want to live next to a guy who collects scrap metal, doesn’t mow his lawn regularly or ever throws anything away. These are just a few things that will have my buyer turn around and say “nope, where’s the next house”. Other honorable mentions in the category are deteriorated exteriors, mildew on the side of the house, extra cars parked in the driveway, ugly fences, overgrown vegetation etc. The unique issue here is this is something that literally can’t be fixed by the buyer since it’s not their property and asking a neighbor to clean up their mess rarely goes well.

So there you have it, my top reasons why buyers will walk away. As I said, sellers have a sizable advantage since there is little housing inventory across the country, but it does not get you out of having to maintain and repair serious defects with the home. After all, it is still a large purchase for most buyers. Got more questions for me? Go ahead and #asksethanything

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