This article was originally published in March 2018 Think Realty Magazine.

As a full-time realtor and full-time investor, I see things from a different perspective from a lot of investors and many agents and brokers. I know that sometimes a small change costing pennies on the dollar for an investor can make a big difference to a buyer.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see a property sitting on the market for far too long and eventually selling for a lot less than it should because of a few minor design and listing issues that made the property look less attractive than it really is. All too often, the source of the mistakes is an owner who thought they could save a few bucks by cutting corners, then discovered too late that they cost themselves money because they had to hold the property an extra few weeks or even a few months!

Three of the most common design mistakes that will cost investors time on the market:

1. DIY Listing Photography

Professional photography is crucial because most people do not have time to waste and won’t take the time to go see something in person that is not appealing online. Put your best foot forward! If a potential buyer likes what they see online, they will want to see the home in person. Also, if your home has a quirky feature, either embrace and explain it with good pictures and enthusiastic descriptions, or do not show it at all. Don’t just include a strange, confusing picture with no explanation and expect people to understand.

2. Clean Up to Your Price Point

Sometimes, investors get so caught up in investing that they forget they need to clean up after themselves. This is an especially big issue in homes at higher price points. I recently took over a listing that had been on the market in peak season for six months with another realtor. I walked in, called the investor and explained to them why the home had not sold. I took a video, sent it to him and made recommendations:

You cannot have a $300,000+ home on the market with wires hanging from the ceiling where there are no light fixtures (see image above), no vent hood, dead bugs, cobwebs, tall grass and no curb appeal! He sent me $1,500 to make the changes, and in fewer than 60 days the home was under contract for $18,000 more than the previous list price. Too bad the property had to sit on the market for six months during the peak season before he made those changes. That extra time cost him more than $3,000 per month.

3. Unrealistic Design Decisions

This one is a little bit harder to fix, but if you have a home sitting on the market and you cannot figure out why, an impractical design decision or renovation might be the reason. Sometimes, a home is just not practical when it comes to daily use of an important room, like the bathroom. This may be due to the initial design decisions. Then, you will have to decide if you are going to fix the problem or let it be, but other times the impracticality is due to renovations.

Standup shower after

Bathroom after renovation

Bathroom before renovation

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone through a home being renovated and found situations where “updates” had rendered the bathroom, in particular, unusable or awkward. Bathrooms are already small spaces, so you have to think about how a homeowner will navigate through them.

If you cannot open a vanity door completely because the enormous spa tub is in the way, maybe you should let the tub go and just have a large, stand-up shower.

A good rule of thumb could be: If the door to a cabinet, cupboard, or room won’t open completely after your renovation, maybe you should make a different decision! See my images at right to illustrate this point. The next time you are ready to put a property on the market, keep these things in mind. You could save yourself a lot of money and get your property sold much more quickly.

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  • Lorraine Beato

    Lorraine Beato is the CEO of Atlanta’s Residences powered by eXp Realty. She is the author of Flip the Switch, a practical guide for real estate agents and professionals ready to take their experience in real estate to the next level by investing in real estate and real estate-related assets in order to build wealth and secure their retirement. Beato has been a full-time, successful REALTOR® and investor for over 25 years and specializes in thinking outside the box to get clients to the closing table fast. Combined with her personal experience in MBS trading with Merrill Lynch and building her own retirement portfolio using creative strategies to acquire properties and improve their cashflow, Beato’s ability to negotiate and navigate her clients’ way to winning investments has made her a favorite with investors nationwide who trust her to acquire, improve, list, and sell their properties when they are not able to personally manage projects in the Atlanta area.

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