John's Florida Real Estate Blog


What Home Buyers DO and DO NOT Care About

Often when REALTORs go out to do a new listing they try to get the sellers to see their home as buyers would. Sometimes the seller listen and sometimes they do not. If you are a fan of any of the plethora of TV shows that are airing now that deal with preparing homes for sale, you can see how sellers resist taking advice from the very experts they have hired to help them sell their homes for the best prices. So I have decided to create two lists. One with things that matter to home buyers and another with things that buyers do not care about. These are not to be construed as exhaustive lists, but they can help you analyze your own situation when you go to market your home. Most of these will apply whether you are a seller in Florida or some other state.

Things That Matter To Buyers:

  • That the home is clean and uncluttered. I was in a home that was on tour today and there was 1/2 inch of dust on most of the furniture. Buyers are turned off by dirty homes or homes in which you have to maneuver around toys, dirty clothes, small furniture, etc. The kitchen and bathroom should be spotless. And god forbid that there is mold around the tub. There is so much on the news about mold, the last thing you want is a buyer to start wandering down that worrisome path!
  • The home should appear roomy, even if it is, in fact, small. Rooms with too much furniture in them, whether they are huge or small, will all seem tiny to buyers and they will not be able to imagine their furniture fitting in.
  • The home should appear well-maintained. If they get the impression that the sellers have not taken care of certain items, like AC filters or dripping faucets, they begin to wonder what hidden problems have been allowed to go bad as well.
  • It is important that buyers can imagine themselves and their belongings fitting into the home. I am not speaking just of size, but also of the types of flooring, wall colors, etc. Keep in mind that walls covered with family pictures keeps the buyers thinking they are visitors, not potential owners. Buyers will often decide within one minute if the home pleases them or turns them off.
  • Buyers do want a home that smells fresh and clean. If Fido has left his mark on the rug, even if you cannot see it, the smell will turn off the buyers. The same goes for strong cooking odors.
  • Buyers care about the location of the home in relation to places they may frequently have to travel to, such as: work, shopping, restaurants, parks, schools, hospitals, etc.
  • Buyers want to see a neat exterior. Keep the grass mowed and the flowers watered. Do not have piles of junk on the patio or around the garage. Remember, you are creating an image in the buyers' minds of you and the hidden condition of the home. What they see will either make their perception a positive or a negative one.
  • If you live in a subdivision with deed restrictions, buyers want to be sure that these rules will not restrict their normal way of life. If there are homeowner fees, they need to feel that they are getting value for the money they pay monthly. $100/month does not sound bad if you get a pool, playground, gym, security, and lawn care.

What Buyers DO NOT Care About:

  • Buyers do not care if you laid the tile in the kitchen or sponge painted the dining room yourself. They will not even care if you built the home from the ground up with your own hands. In fact they may worry that the work was not done correctly or that it conflicts with their own tastes.
  • In general, buyers do not care if your home is a "custom home" or not. It depends on the custom features the home has. Upgrades may be a plus as long as they are upgrades the buyers want. But just like getting a custom tailored suit made for yourself, a custom home you have constructed may not "fit" the buyers.
  • Buyers do not care if you have "over improved" the home for the area where you live. In a neighborhood of luxury homes, a pool can be a plus. However, in an area of modest two-bedroom homes, you will never get back what you invested in the installation of a pool.
  • Buyers will be looking for good prices on similar homes. They do not care what the reasons are for the price you have set. It is not their concern if you borrowed too much money, lost the family savings in Las Vegas, or your Aunt Sadie needs a heart transplant. They are not cruel, but these are issues that do not play a part in their decision to buy or not to buy your property. If you have priced your home above the competition, be prepared to see the buyers purchase the home next door. Even if you did convince someone to pay way over the market value for your "special" home, I can assure you that in most cases the bank's appraiser will quickly pull the plug on the deal as he or she injects a dose of reality to the deal.
  • Buyers do not care if you have a busy life and have little time to make your home look good for showings. They will just move on to the next house. And this will only end up making you work even more to keep your home looking good as it lingers on the market month after month.

We are in a Buyers Market at this point in time. Whether we like it or not, they have the advantage. If your house is not appealing, they will just go down the street or around the corner and buy one there. This situation will probably not change in the near future.

So if you want to sell your home, keep in mind what are and are not the buyers' priorities. Listen to your full-service agent who can give you the benefit of his or her training and experience. In the end, this will make your home selling experience a much more positive (and possibly profitable) one.

For more information or questions about this topic please call me at: 813-783-4444 or e-mail me at:

John Elwell - REALTOR


Bill Nye Realty, Inc.


Licensed in Florida


Comment balloon 10 commentsJohn Elwell • September 12 2007 08:19PM


John: This is great information. We, in home staging, preach it over and over......Buyers should feel like they can walk in, take off their shoes and live in the space. Now we all know that's not true but that is the feeling the seller needs to create. Taking care of the details shows value in a home where as a dirty or neglected home makes the buyer feel like they might take it off your hands! Excellent!
Posted by Cheri Dueker, Transitional Designs, LLC, Home Staging St. Louis (Transitional Designs, LLC) almost 13 years ago
John: all excellent points that bear repeating over and over to sellers.  Home Stagers can also help real estate agents make these points with their sellers. 
Posted by Diana Corcoran, Rhinebeck Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Hudson Valley Properties) almost 13 years ago
Diana and Cheri I know. We keep beating the drum, and most sellers have the attitude that the buyers will take it "as it is". Surprise!! No they won't. I was on agents tour today and in one house, every single light, except in the living room, was off. Another had an inch of dust on the TV and VCR. Yet they all want 10+% more than the market will support.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) almost 13 years ago

At the listing table I pull out the active comps on their and explain that this is their competition.

Posted by Vicky Poe, Realtor/ Auctioneer (Good Ole Rocky Top) almost 13 years ago
Vicky And don't you just love it when they say those comps are fine, BUT our house is "special". Then they go and price theirs above the competition and spend the next six months griping because the buyers all go to the competition and they have had no offers. Happens over and over.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) almost 13 years ago
John: This is one reason why we complete a Staging Inventory on each home we consult. This report includes room by  room pictures and the items that need to be staged or corrected. We supply a copy to the REA and then if the seller decides not to complete the items themselves or hire us to complete them, the agent has a backup when the house sits on the market!The REA can use the Inventory to explain the problems that knocks the home out of the competition for the limited buyers.
Posted by Cheri Dueker, Transitional Designs, LLC, Home Staging St. Louis (Transitional Designs, LLC) almost 13 years ago
Great post, all sellers need to read this!
Posted by Tania King (CIR REALTY) almost 13 years ago
You are right Tania, read and then believe it. So few do, sadly.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) almost 13 years ago

Good points.  Thanks for sharing.  My pet peeve is SMELL.  I have a dog and 2 cats and when frineds come over they always say "Mmm it smells like Vanilla in here".

It's called a Glade Plug IN - $2 at Target - Buy one - Use it!  :-)



Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORSĀ®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) almost 13 years ago
Yep, vanilla is one of those mild scents that always seems to work. The floral ones can be overpowering to say the least, especially if the home is vacant and closed up tight. You have the right idea James.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) almost 13 years ago

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