Ask the Expert: Don’t Scare Away Home Buyers


The end of October is known for being a time of fright. Typically, we’re talking Halloween, but in this case, I thought it might be eye opening to look at it from the real estate perspective.

There are certain things to do to keep buyers from running away from your home as though they’ve just seen a ghost who yelled “boo.”

Let’s start with the basics.

What is the first thing someone sees when looking for a home? The answer is…the photos. Since most house hunters are viewing houses online before seeing them in person, you must make a killer first impression online.

Make sure those photos shine! If you don’t have high quality photos, you might as well consider yourself having lost the race before you even start. Sure, maybe your home is special and will sell simply based on location alone. However, have you ever considered that you might miss out on getting a better, higher offer if you made the right first impression that really blew buyers away?

Next up, the second round of first impressions is curb appeal. If the photos were enough to get them there, the buyers have to want to stay once they see the house in person. How do we do that? Let’s not scare them off. Here’s a list of do not’s.

  • Do not leave dead trees, shrubs, plants, leaves in place
  • Do not have a poor paint job or chipping, flaking paint in sight
  • Do not have oil stains or cracks on the driveway and walkways
  • Do not leave cobwebs and dirt/dust lying around
  • Do not have burnt out lights or broken light fixtures

Do all the opposites and throw in some welcoming décor and you’re sure to entice buyers to stay at least a little while.

Killer style can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing – especially if it’s deal killer style. When a home is too personalized or outdated, it can make buyers want to head for the hills.

An example of personalized décor would be a home that is overly theme oriented. Too much of that can distract buyers. Dated décor can also be a deal killer as it can remind buyers of the amount of money they can kiss good bye, fearful this will be a bad buy.

Another way to lose buyers is with foul smells. While subjective, it’s certainly something to pay attention to. If buyers are distracted by odors in the home like mothballs or pets, it can make them feel uncomfortable. That’s not going to help them fall in love with the home. After all your objective when selling is to do everything possible to make buyers feel at ease.

Get some honest opinions from neutral parties about how nose-friendly your home is and help to counteract or enhance it with air fresheners, freshly baked goods, and candles.



Holly Schwartz McDonald is a Realtor with Villa Real Estate who lives in Newport Beach and has been featured on HGTV’s House Hunters. She can be reached at