#1 - SMELL...Overwhelmingly, the #1 complaint among prospective buyers was unpleasant odors in the home. The chief offenders were smoke, pet odors, and strange cooking aromas. Some in the discussion said they turned right around and walked out because they found the smells so oppressive. Most of us are unaware of the 'peculiar' odors of our homes because we become immune to the smells - the buyers are not immune to these same odors.
#2 - CLEANLINESS...This one just boggles my mind - the #2 complaint that buyers had about the homes they viewed was that the seller simply did not bother to clean. We're not talking about home staging (which will help) or even unrealistic expectations of the home being spotless - just simple old-fashioned cleaning. Selling your home can be a bit inconvenient, but when you have advance notice that a buyer is coming to view your home - clean it up!!! At the very least, remove the pile of dirty dishes from the sink.
#3 - SELLER AT HOME...Coming in at #3 is having the owners at home while the buyers are trying to view it. Most buyers felt very uncomfortable with the seller there. Many said they could not take the time to really look at the features of the home because they were in such a hurry to get away from the seller. This is a real problem for FSBOs, as they are usually the ones showing their own home.
#4 - CLUTTER...The #4 complaint is related to the cleanliness point - the dreaded clutter. We have all seen it on the home shows; many buyers have a hard time seeing your home because of all the stuff. When I was selling my small home, I hauled a big truckload of stuff to a storage facility. How in the world do we accumulate so much stuff?
#5 - UNFINISHED PROJECTS...Unfinished projects take the #5 spot. If you are planning on selling your home, finish up any on-going home improvement projects before placing it on the market. Homes with half-finished painting, flooring, trim, etc. gave buyers a bad overall impression.
None of the above matters, however, if your home is overpriced. Buyers really hated it when the homes were priced above what the market indicates. An obviously overpriced home discourages offers because the buyer believes it is an indication of an unrealistic and unreasonable seller. The more out-of-line your price is with the current market, the longer your home will sit unsold and the more inconvenient the process is for you (the seller).
If your home is priced correctly and you have addressed the other items on this list, it will stand out like a diamond among the many lumps of coal out there.