BY BRUCE CATHCART

Here in the Coachella Valley we had near perfect weather for the entire month of October!  Summer broke early and right on cue we switched from wearing shorts to long pants on Halloween.  And since I am still in the Halloween spirit I thought I would write about things in Seller’s homes that buyers think are creepy and can oftentimes scare them away from making an offer.  Some of these things come from some recent articles that I have read on Realtor.com and some come from my 35 years of showing buyers different homes and reading their reactions to them.  Obviously everyone has different likes and dislikes so don’t take offense if you look around your home and find that you have several of the items to be mentioned in this article.  The intent here is when selling your home make it as presentable and acceptable to the largest number of buyers possible and try not to scare any of them away.  In the REO business we call it “beige out”.  If you looked at any REO homes during the last bubble burst you would have noticed white ceilings, beige walls, white baseboards and plain vanilla colored carpet… everything as neutral as possible with absolutely nothing offensive (or exciting).  I’m not suggesting you go to these lengths to sell your home, but what you will see here are a few simple “de-staging” ideas that just might help get your home sold.  But first let’s take a look at the sales data for homes in the Coachella Valley for the month of October.

According to the Desert Area MLS as of 11/1/17 there were 828 pending transactions of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in the month of October.  That’s up from the 804 pendings in the previous month (September) but up again (even if ever so slightly) when compared to the same time last year when we had only 813 pending sales.  In September there were 668 solds and we were back up in October with 742 solds.  This is considerably better than last year’s home sales in October (2016) when we sold only 625 homes. Our year to date sales total for 2017 stands at 8,838 homes compared to the same time period last year when we sold only 7,855 homes.  Statistically we ended our first ten months in 2017 exceeding last year’s number of sales by just under 13%.  According to the Desert Area MLS “Statistics” the median home sale price for ALL HOMES in the Coachella Valley is up about 5% but the average home sale price is now up over 20% this year when compared to the same time period for last year. This huge increase over last year is a sign that not only are we continuing to sell more homes this year, but the homes are selling for considerably higher prices.  At this rate it won’t be long before the Coachella Valley home values are back near the high market values that we experienced in 2006-7.   Our inventory of homes for sale was back up significantly this month with 3,601 homes available on October 31, 2017 compared to 3,227 homes available on October 1, 2017.  This continues last month’s trend of a higher number of homes available for sale each month here in the Coachella Valley.  Typically our inventory of homes for sale begins to grow at this time of the year and this confirms it.  Despite earlier fears that we would be faced with a critical shortage of homes for sale here in the Coachella Valley it appears that our inventory is increasing right on schedule and putting our market back in equilibrium where the inventory is adequate to meet the demand.  It appears then that home prices may have reached a plateau and should stay stable for the remainder of 2017.  

Two or sometimes even three locks on a front door seldom draws even a glance from a buyer… but six or seven locks and a security screen?  Add some bars on the windows, surveillance cameras and the buyers become too scared to even ask why all the security!  When shopping for a rustic cabin in Montana there seems to be a requirement that each home has at least one mounted deer head over the fireplace and a bear skin rug in front of it.  That’s not such a good idea here in the Coachella Valley… even worse is having one of those stuffed coiled rattle snakes they sell in the truck stops.  Several years ago I had a client in her seventies who I had known for only a few years.  Even at her age she was gorgeous and it made me wonder what she must have looked like when she was in her twenties.  Well, when I went to list her condo for sale in Palm Desert I didn’t have to wonder any more.  In her master bedroom above her king sized bed was a fully nude painting of her stretching from one corner of the bed to the other!  As proud as she was of it, she took my suggestion and removed it once we put the house on the market.  Erotic art, whether paintings, pictures or sculptures (and boy, I’ve seen some doozies here in our Valley homes) are better packed away and out of sight before potential buyers are invited to view your home.  But wait, there’s more!  I once showed some clients a condo in Palm Springs where the master bedroom was completely painted black and there were eye bolts screwed into the ceiling above the bed.  Of course I suggested to my clients that they were probably for macramé hangers to hold potted plants, but I don’t think they believed me.  They for sure did not make an offer on that home!  So all black bedrooms with trapeze hooks in the ceiling are also a definite no-no.  Arriving at the door to show a home and being greeted by a barking and snarling group of pit bulls generally puts most buyers on edge.  If the house smells like the dogs and the rear yard is littered with what comes out of the dogs the buyers won’t walk, they’ll run out of your home.   The DIY (Do It Yourself) channel and You Tube has created an army of wannabe remodelers and repairmen.  A home that is clearly the victim of a DIY owner with unprofessional, incomplete improvements and repairs will scare a buyer off faster than a fixer upper in obvious poor condition.  Cobwebs, spiders and cockroaches, though really cool on Halloween, are super creepy the rest of the year.  And you can add rats and mice to that list as well! 

The truth is it doesn’t take much to frighten buyers away from making an offer on your home.  I have shared just a few of things that can give a buyer that creepy feeling when viewing a home.  If you are planning to list your home for sale ask your trusted real estate professional for an honest opinion about the things in your home that might scare a buyer away.

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Join me each month this year as we keep a close eye on our Coachella Valley real estate market.  If you have a real estate question or concerns please email me at the address below. 

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at bycathcart@laquintapalmsrealty.com or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com.