Top Five Home Buyer Turn-Offs

Selling a home in today's market can be a bit frustrating. There's all sorts of home staging and property preparation advice out there, and some of it seems daunting or impossible to follow unless you already live in a haute home or have a serious bankroll set aside to whip your place into shape.

You can't turn a rancher into a Victorian – so don't bother trying. But you do have more control than you may realize over how desirable your listing looks to potential buyers. In order to know what turns a buyer on you need to know what turns a buyer off.

Here are 5 big-time turn-offs that make buyers cringe at the thought of purchasing your home.

1. Cluttered, dirty and/or "fragrant" houses. You already know this one. Every seller does. Yet, even in 2016, the era of Houzz and HGTV, buyers across America walk into homes that would make your mother cringe every single day. The people who come to see your home are making one of the biggest decisions they'll ever make. Cluttered countertops, neglected toilet seats and unattended litter boxes not only invite the viewer to turn up their nose, they practically compel a buyer to walk away.

Luckily, you have all the control in the world over how your house looks to your would be buyer. Some sellers find it helpful to think not about de-cluttering, but about pre-packing. Everything that is not part of the home's decor or furnishing and that is not a must for your daily functioning should be boxed up, and neatly packed away in the garage or a storage unit. You'll have to pack it all up anyway when your home sells, and doing it in advance just makes it more likely the place will sell, stat!

Also, no matter how long it takes for your home to get an offer, do not show it without it being completely and totally tidied up: no laundry or dishes piled up, countertops freshly wiped down, mail and paperwork put away and smelly dogs or litter boxes cleaned and/or out of the house. Get every family member on board, kids/cats/canines included, and create a morning or evening cleaning ritual to minimize mad, pre-showing dashes.

2. Overpricing. Buying a house in today's market is hard work! On top of all the research and analysis about the market, buyers have to work overtime to separate the real estate wheat from the chaff, get educated about short sales and foreclosures and often put in many, many offers before they get even a single one accepted. The last thing they want to add to their task list is trying to argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing.

When buyers see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home's value and has priced it sky-high, many won't even bother looking at it. If they do love it, they'll wait for it to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will "educate you" into desperation, priming the pump for a later, lowball offer.

Ultimately, you decide what to ask for your home. But you deprive yourself of the professional counsel and expertise you're paying for if you fail to listen to your agent's advice and insights on the subject of listing price. They will point you to other properties that have sold in your area with similar features and use that data to help you understand the right price range for your home. Worried about setting the price too low? Get buyer's brokers' feedback with an advance broker's open house, and work with your agent on an advance plan for bringing the price down if you get no showings or buyer interest.

3. Deceptive listing descriptions or pictures. Here's the deal: you will never trick someone into buying your home. If listing pics are photo-edited within an inch of their lives, buyers will learn this information at some point. If your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant, because the house is under the train tracks and you live in between a wrecking yard and a biker bar, buyers will inevitably figure this out.

And misrepresentation alone is enough to turn otherwise interested buyers off. In cases where the buyer feels misled, whether or not that was your intention, they can't help but wonder: If they can't trust you to be honest about this, how can they trust you to be honest about everything else?

Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest – so be both. If your home has features or aspects that most buyers will see as negative, your home's listing probably shouldn't lead with them. But neither should you go out of your way to slant or skew or spin the facts which will become instantly obvious to anyone who visits your home. And in any event, your pricing should account for all of your home's features, pros and cons.

4. New, bad, home improvements. Many a buyer has walked into a house that has clearly been remodeled and upgraded in anticipation of the sale, only to have their heart sink with the further realization that the brand-spanking-new kitchen features a countertop made, not of Carerra marble, but brand-new, pink tiles with a kitty cat in the middle of each one. Or the pristine, just-installed floors feature carpet in a creamy shade of blue – the buyer's least favorite color.

New home improvements that run counter to a buyer's aesthetics are a big turn-off. In today's era of frugality, buyers just can't cotton to ripping out expensive, brand new, perfectly functioning things just on the basis of style – especially since they'll feel like they paid for these things in the price of the home.

Check in with a local broker or agent before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel. They can give you a reality check about the likely return on your investment, and help you prioritize about which projects to do (or not). Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal. Many times, they will also help you do the work of selecting neutral finishes that will work for the largest possible range of buyer tastes.

5. Bad photos or no photos at all. Some of the listing photos that make it online are shockingly bad. They have dumpsters parked in front of the house, piles of laundry all over the "hardwood" floors touted in the listing description, and once, even the family dog doing his or her business in the lovely green front yard. Listing pictures that have put your home in anything but its best, accurate light are a very quick way to ensure that you turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house!

The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pics are listings that have no photos at all; most buyers on today's market see a listing with no pictures and click right on past it, without giving the place a second glance.

 Before your home is on the market, ask your listing agent-to-be to see the online marketing for their current listings, to get a feel for how they operate. After your home is on the market, don't neglect to check top listing sites to be sure that the pics for your home's listing represent your home well. If not, ask your agent to grab some new shots and get them online (and say pretty please, pretty please!).

Buying A Fixer Upper

Buying a fixer upper isn’t for everyone, but if you have patience, vision, and a good real estate agent to guide you, it might be an option for you. The term “fixer upper” can mean different things to different people. Can you see past a saggy roof, peeling paint, and a rotten deck? Or is your idea of fixing up a house updating a kitchen or remodeling a bathroom? Maybe you want a house that only needs minor repairs or cosmetic updates, such as floors, paint, or landscaping.

Here are some things to think about when looking at potential fixer uppers.

1. How long will you be in the home?

How long you’re going to live in your new home can help you determine how much you should invest in fixing it up. If you’re only going to live there a couple of years, you probably want to avoid moving walls or adding rooms. But if it’s your dream home, or a home you plan to be in for a while, then taking on more, and spending more, might make sense.

2. What are you willing to take on?

Having a roof replaced, updating an ugly kitchen, or redoing an outdated bathroom are fairly straightforward projects, but problems with the foundation or structure can get extremely expensive. You’ll also want to think twice before dealing with mold – it can be dangerous, as well as very difficult, sometimes impossible, to get rid of mold completely. Older homes can have their own hidden challenges too – especially when you start opening up walls. This can expose electrical or plumbing issues as well as rotting wood.

3. What can you do yourself?

Be realistic about your skills. Are you fairly handy and comfortable with home projects? Do you feel comfortable painting a room? Maybe you would rather hire someone to do everything. Knowing what you can and are willing to do is important.

4. How much do you have to spend?

Sticking to a budget can be one of the hardest things about renovating or remodeling, but being realistic about what you can afford can help you avoid a lot of stress and headache. For most houses, kitchens and bathrooms are where most of your remodeling dollars go. Before you decide to redo an entire room, take a look and see if there is anything you can save. Maybe the layout is good and the cabinets just need refacing or painting.

5. What is it going to cost?

A fixer upper can be very appealing if you can get it for a good price. But what looks like a good value at first glance could be a money pit if you don’t know what you’re really dealing with. Get realistic estimates from one or more contractors before you make an offer. And don’t forget the hidden costs that invariably crop up on all fixer uppers: add 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen costs.

Most people underestimate the amount of work and what it will cost to remodel or renovate a house. Talk to someone who has done a remodel and you’re probably never going to hear “it was so fast!” or “it cost less than we thought.” The stress of a remodel is another “cost” you should probably factor in.

Still think you want to take on a fixer upper? Your real estate agent should be able to help you navigate some of the ins and outs of taking on a fixer upper. They’ll be able to help you determine what is a good value for your market, and what remodeling projects make sense for you, depending on how long you plan to stay in the house. Your agent should also be able to suggest reputable contractors.

Source: Home Care Buzz  July 2017

Simplify Your Move

Oh don’t we all wish we would have gotten started sooner. The dreaded packing and all that entails. Moving can be a stressful time, so many things to do. Why didn’t we clean out the basement before now?!  Likely because there was no approaching deadline!  Thankfully there are many simple things you can do to make it easier on yourself and your family. Here are a few of them.



Start early to reduce stress

So often we feel that there isn’t enough time to get everything done so we end up rushing and cutting corners, which causes more work in the end.



Start by going through the individual rooms and choosing the items you want to donate or trash. There is no reason to take those items with you. It saves time, space and packing material getting rid of those items now. Take clothes, toys, bedding and furniture to Goodwill. Recycle old electronics. Throw away expired pantry items and medicine.


Come up with a packing system-

There are several different ways to pack to make the move more efficient. You can use color coding, place colored tape on the outside of the boxes. Have a color that is specific to each room and a list posted at the front door that shows those rooms and colors. That will allow the people unloading the moving truck to take the box to the correct room.

You can label each box clearly on the top and the side with the name of the room it’s going to and the number of boxes that go to that room. Example ( Kitchen 1 of 8 )  Or you can come up with your own system according to your preferences.


Stock up on packing materials-

It’s easy to forget that you don’t just need boxes and tape to move. Start a list of the specific items you will need.

-packing tape

-masking tape

-bubble wrap


-tissue paper


-specialty boxes



-king size sharpie

-colored duct tape or washi tape for color coding


Pack a suitcase-

You are likely going to want to unpack the kitchen or bathrooms when you first start unboxing everything. Eliminate the stress of having to unpack the bedrooms right away by packing an overnight bag for each family member. That gives you peace of mind knowing where essentials are for your first couple of nights. The same goes for pets, put together a “doggy bag” containing anything you will need for your furry friend those first couple of days.


Essential/Important Documents-

Anything vital keep with you in your personal vehicle. Gather those documents and put them in one box clearly labeled.


Hire a cleaning service - Please!

The day before closing, or what ever may fit your moving schedule the best, have a cleaning crew clean your home to have it ready for the new owners. This is typically done after everything is out of the house. This common courtesy goes a long way.  Get this scheduled and on your calendar at least two weeks prior to the new owners closing on the home. Nobody likes to move into their new home only to find it filthy.


Remember to change your address at the post office 2 weeks prior to your move AND call utility companies to transfer service.  Never turn off or cancel utilities.

Selling in Summer

With summer already upon us, I would like to take some time to discuss tips on getting your home ready to sell for this season. Summer is a great time of year to showcase all of your outdoor spaces. Some of the best memories I have made are those spent entertaining, hosting or enjoying family and friends outdoors. Potential buyers tend to keep and eye out for outdoor living spaces during their search so, why not showcase what you have! First, and foremost, the key to an attractive outdoor living space is simple upkeep and cleanliness. Sweep off the deck, wash off the windows and make sure the yard is free of brush, leaves and clutter. No deck, no problem. You can always create the illusion of an outdoor oasis with a few nice lawn chairs and a sitting table. You can add in potted plants and even a fountain if the budget allows it to create a relaxing environment outdoors. Finally, when it comes to showing your home in the summer the air conditioning temperature in the house is very important. The long summer days means maximum heat for hours on end. Make sure your AC is set at a comfortable and cool temperature to ensure potential buyers feel the cool air as they walk in the front door. 

Moving Tips for Dog Owners

A friend of mine was relocating from Kansas City to Boston. She didn't want to traumatize her Golden Retriever by putting "Beau" on the airplane so, what to do?  She hired a 'pet taxi' to take her dog from KC to Boston.  Pretty cool!  There are pet taxis across the US.  Goggle 'Pet Taxis' for more info.

Moving can be a nightmare ordeal for you, but it can be even worse for your pup. Dogs rely on stability to feel secure and all the activity of a move can seriously unsettle them. There is, however, an easier way to make your best buddy a bit more comfortable in his new surroundings.  Read More:

Considering Selling Your Home? Price it Correctly From the Beginning

Being a full time Realtor, one of my most important jobs, and one that I take very seriously, is pricing a seller's home.  I explain to my clients that it's not about what I think and it's not about what you the seller feel it should be priced.  Pricing is NOT about emotion.  Pricing is based on the current market trends also known as facts.  Pricing the home correctly right from the start will yield you, the seller, better end results.

Experienced Realtors, like myself, will tell you that pricing your home appropriately from the beginning is critical to getting it sold quickly and at the best price. Research shows that overpricing your home and then dropping the price several times while it languishes on the market usually leads to selling it at a much lower price than what you originally should have asked for it. The longer a home stays on the market, the deeper the discount is likely to be off the original price.

Read More:

Potato Waffles anyone?

They are rich and delicious.  This recipe is not in my Homes That Cook book, however, if you'd like the recipe, please shoot me an email!  

P.S.  Here is a pic of one of my husband's favorite breakfast dishes, my buttermilk pancakes (page 50, Homes That Cook) with an over easy egg on top.  Delicious!

Kitchen Countertop Options

It will be some time yet before we select a kitchen countertop material and colors for our new home. However, I wanted to know what the true difference was with some of the most popular kitchen countertops. 

My brother in Chicago has white Italian marble kitchen countertops - although gorgeous, with the amount of red wine we drink, I fear that if we made this selection for our new house, we would have a gorgeous countertop with red wine speckles forever embedded on it.

As we are getting our current home ready to put on the market, we just had our silestone kitchen island top and corion countertops replaced with granite.  It does give it a richer feel and as we know, granite is the #1 requested material for countertops - not only in the kitchen but also throughout the house (bathrooms, bartops).

In our 1940's rental home, we took out the tile kitchen countertops and replaced them with a cool looking laminate countertop.  They are making some really nice patterns and colors with laminate these days.  Still the most economical of countertops but at least now they are making some cool, funky, styles that you can choose from.

I often see magazine photos of butcher block countertops.  This idea really appealed to me because I use A cutting board everyday of my adult life (practically).  How handy it would be to just chop away right on your countertops. In the article that I have attached here, it states that you can even chop meat on this countertop - evidently it's sealed and not as pourous as a wood cutting board.  For those of you that have worked in a restaurant at one time or another, you likely know that they no longer use wood cutting boards as they are very inclined to hold bacteria.  I remember as a teenager working in the kitchen of a German/Austrian restaurant and every night, sometimes twice a night, I would have to 'bleach' the wood cutting boards that were used to cut meat.  I don't think butcher block countertops are for me as I would likely be way to concerned about bacteria because of my 'old school' wood cutting board experiences.  I am a germophobe, especially when it comes to my kitchen. 

I've attached a link to a HGTV article about different countertops, as well as a video that shows how they mine the granite.  Pretty cool.

How do I select the right paint color?

My husband and I are getting ready to break ground at our new home site. I told my husband, who is a home builder, that I would give him a list of my 10 wants for the house and then asked him to simply call me when the house was completed.  He laughed, although I was really quite serious.

I've sold many new homes in my real estate career yetI have never had the experience of building my own home. As I stare at the blueprints with excitement, I often get queasy when I think of all the time consuming decisions, from grand to minuscule,  that are going to need to be made.  I called a decorator friend of mine, asked her to help me through the process, with my first question being, 'Where do I start?'.  She replied, 'paint colors'. 

After reading several articles about how to make paint color selections, I found this one to be the most reader/user friendly - without getting too in depth and confusing.  Whether you're painting one room in your current home OR making selections for your entire house, I hope you find this article helpful.

Jan's Cheese Fondue

Big football weekend this past weekend.  A friend of mine texted me asking where they could find white American cheese for Jan's Cheese Fondue (page 42 of Homes That Cook book).  I get the white American cheese from the deli counter.  I ask them to cut a one pound block.  When I'm just about ready to make the fondue, I freeze the block of cheese for 3-5 minutes so that it firms up making it easier to shred.  Here is the delicious fondue recipe for you to enjoy!

Jan's Cheese Fondue

Best Friends, a glass of wine and a warm fire - the recipe for a great evening!

1 pound block of white American cheese, shredded

2 cups sour cream

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 or 3 dashes of garlic powder

A hearty loaf of bread such as baguette, French, Italian or sourdough

Apple slices

Heat sour cream.  When it's bubbling, drop in shredded cheese a handful at a time.  Stir continuously. Add remaining ingredients (except bread and apples).  When all lumps are smooth, it's done.

Enjoy this fondue with large cubes of bread and apple slices.

Butterbrickle Bread

Judy, a dear friend and neighbor, gave me a deliciously soft loaf of this bread just last week.  It was the softest (quick) bread I'd ever felt.  Then I tasted it, oh my, it was so delicious!!

She tells me that this recipe is probably about 50 years old and maybe even older. She has been making this bread at Christmastime for about the same number of years and it's always been a hit.

Judy was gracious enough to share the recipe with us.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Butterbrickle  Bread


1-box of Butter Pecan cake mix ( Butterbrickle cake mix no longer in stores)

1-box of instant Coconut pudding mix dry

2/3 cup of salad oil

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup poppy seeds  ( don't use that much.  About 0.65 oz in the container)

1-cup warm water.


Mix all the above ingredients together and bake in 2 loaf pans at 275 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

It's December

What a busy time of the year.  It's also time to savor, sip and socialize.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful December.  I am so grateful for my many blessings. 

Here is a short list of to-do's to get ready for the coming weather.  Being prepared = less stress. 

  • disconnect hoses from exterior hose bibs
  • winterize sprinkler system
  • put ice scrapers in all of your vehicles
  • buy a bag or two of ice/snow melt to have on hand
  • bring snow shovels to the garage, if they aren't already there
  • pull out winter mittens, gloves and hats, so they are readily accessible
  • throw out the expired and purchase some new hot chocolate mix and marshmallows
  • if you're traveling this winter, ask a neighbor in advance to drive in and out of your driveway when it snows so that it appears that cars have gone in and out of the house/garage (snow tracks).  No snow tracks is a dead give away that the house is vacant. Better yet, ask a neighborhood kid to shovel the driveway while you are away
  • if you intend on using your wood burning fireplace, perhaps it's time to have it cleaned and/or inspected. Safety first.
  • drafty doors and window?  New weather stripping might be in order 
  • like to bake in the wintertime? Stock up on flour, sugar and chocolate chips.  Great fun with the kids on a cold snow day
  • drink wine, eat good food, play games and have fun, too!


I believe it was 2005 when I had my first arepa in New York City. My brother David, who lives on the Upper West Side, is a hardcore foodie and when my son and I visit there, we always are taken on a full day, fun filled, food excursion.  On this one particular day in 2005, one of our stops included Caracas Arepa Bar. My first arepa was El Pabellon (shredded beef, fried plantains, black beans and dry white cheese) - along with a killer homemade hot sauce that they have on all of the tables.  Nick, my son, had the reina pepiada arepa (shredded chicken & avocado - served cold like a chicken salad).  He and I were hooked.  Since then, I have been obsessed with arepas and determined to find an authentic someone to teach me the proper way of making these pockets of delight.

To this day, el pabellon remains my favorite arepa and my son still favors the reina pepiada.  We visit the Caracas Arepa Bar every time we are in NYC.  In the interim of then and now, I have learned how to make the arepa, both of our favorite fillings AND I have created my own hot sauce, since after 10 years of (practically) begging for the recipe for the hot sauce at Caracas, they still won't share the recipe with me or anyone, for that matter.

Do you have an arepa story?  Please share it with us!  All of the photos here are my photos of arepas that I have made.  Food is fun!!!