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As a home seller in a mixed market, you will want to be keenly aware of the things which will make a home buyer run!

Most of buyers’ paying top dollar or buyers heading for the hills boils down to one thing: home buyer confidence.Home buying jitters - Things which will make a home buyer RUN!

Buyers buy and pay more when they are confident about a home’s condition, location, layout, etc..

They pay less, or reject a home completely, when they are afraid, whether they’re concerned about high voltage power lines, an odor in the house, a scary condition revealed on the inspections, sitting in a natural hazard zone, or just the effort and cost of updating.  It is a common myth in  hot markets that all homes sell, and they all sell for top dollar.  That just isn’t true.

If you want to sell your Silicon Valley home for top dollar in any market, it’s imperative to put yourself in the buyers’ shoes and try to understand what causes them to have or to lose confidence.

To you, certain conditions may be “no big deal” since you have lived with them and felt just find about it for a very long time.  Buyers, though, imagine the worst! They have the jitters, especially in the current climate of bidding wars, overbids and few contingencies!  If the real cost to fix or replace something is $5,000, a Silicon Valley home buyer might imagine it to be 2-3 times as much if there’s no bid for repair provided.  To maximize your net proceeds from the sale of your property, it’s important to understand what items will damage the odds of your selling at all, or the kind of price you might get for your home.

A list of things which will make a home buyer run, rather than bid on a home:

Here are things which will cause many home buyers to omit properties.  Some of these you can address, others you cannot.

  1. Structural flaws which seem to be expensive, such as needing a new roof, needing new plumbing, an extensive termite problem, or needing foundation repairs. This is even more true if there are no bids provided by you so that they understand the “true cost”. These top the list of things which will make a home buyer run.
  2. Related to #1 above – doing extensive remodeling without permits and finals.  Some buyers won’t care, but many do.  For those who are concerned and would retroactively get the work permitted, it’s a long and costly process.
  3. Sitting in a natural hazard zone such as a FEMA designated 100 year flood plain or an earthquake fault zone.
  4. Strong odors – food, cigarette, cigar, pet, or other unpleasant odors.
  5. Water under your house in the crawl space – especially during a drought. This may cause foundation problems or mold issues down the road, if not already.
  6. Neighbor problems, whether revealed in your disclosures, seen in person or even picked up on Google Street View.
  7. Ugly street: junky cars, lots of cars on the street, too many trailers / boats / RVs will turn many buyers off.
  8. Too many cosmetic issues to address: popcorn ceilings, wallpaper, old carpet, old curtains, old tile floor – not that any one of them is expensive alone, but piling them all up looks like a lot of work and a lot of cost.

Some of these issues are within a home owner’s control and if remediated, it will make a big difference in the success of your home selling efforts.  Other items are not fixable but a realistic understanding of their impact on value & desirability will help you to get the list price right and not have an overpriced listing that takes too long to sell and eventually sell for far less than it could be been sold for with the right pricing strategy at the beginning.

Most homes are selling “as is” and most home buyers can understand spending about 1% of the value of the home on updating and a few fixes.  When the seller’s home needs more than that amount, though, it really can scare buyers off. It also eliminates those who are using every last penny just to buy the house.  Selling your home in a cooling market requires getting a lot of qualified buyer traffic through and having more than one home buyer place an offer on your property.  It is worth the effort to remediate what you can and to price your home appropriately so that you maximize your return.

Related reading to things which will make a home buyer run:

What’s My Silicon Valley Home Worth? Estimating the Probable Buyer’s Value

Why isn’t my Silicon Valley townhouse selling? (On our main blog,