Selling your house? Buyers judge the sellers too!

Buyer judgments can make or break the sale when you are selling your house.  We all understand that the buyer is judging the property when they are searching for a home, but did you know buyers judge the sellers too?

Here’s some insight into common home buying judgments so you can avoid the mistakes that could cost you when you sell your home.

The buyer and seller role in home sales:


The goal of a home buyer is to purchase the best house for the least amount of money.

The buyer’s objective is to make sure they get the best house at the lowest price.  To meet that goal they will attempt to gather information on the home and the sellers.  They use that information to craft the offer that will meet their goal.

This article will help you understand some of the motivations and common traits that we see when we help buyers search for a home.


The goal of a home seller is to sell their home for the most amount of money in the shortest timeframe.

People do not sell homes all the time so they are not aware that even small things can hinder a sale and change the opinion of the buyer.  Remember, the buyer is looking for the best deal while the seller is looking for the most profit.

Review the information below and try to incorporate these suggestions when you sell.  If you heed the advice you should greatly increase your success rate.

Why do they want to sell?

When a buyer is seriously considering purchasing a home they almost always ask their agent “do you know why they are selling?”

The motivation for the sale provides lots of information to the buyer. It’s a big purchase so the buyers are looking for any insight to help them craft an offer that helps their cause.

Divorce is hard

Do you think they are selling because they are getting a divorce?

If buyers find out that you are going through a divorce they will assume that you are in a high-pressure situation and you may accept less for the house.  In the buyer’s mind divorce and discount go hand in hand.

How would they know you are divorcing?

The telltale signs of divorce are easy to spot.  Does the family home look like a bachelor pad with many items missing?  Is half the closet empty?  Are there hints of a woman’s influence but no female articles in the house?  Is there sparse furniture or has most of the children’s toys and items been removed?  These are all surefire signs of divorce that you can see within the house while you’re visiting.

Buyers search for information on social media:

Buyers and their agents will take time to research sellers on social media.  It is easy to find out a lot of information through Google, Facebook or Twitter posts.

Social media posts of every owner will be reviewed.  If anyone says they moved to an apartment that’s a big clue there’s a divorce in the works.  Remarks about single life or comments about arguments will also raise buyer’s eyebrows.

Review your posts and avoid saying anything about moving or lifestyle changes.  In the case of home sales, internet silence truly is golden.

Don't be a nosy neighbor

Are they selling because they don’t like their neighbors?

Some people are difficult to live around.  When you are dealing with an annoying neighbor it can be very stressful.  You may get fed up and decide “enough is enough, I’m moving to another house and getting the heck away from my neighbor Jill.”

This is a perfectly fine motivation for a move, but be careful that the information isn’t well known.  If buyers hear that there are problems with a neighbor they will assume you’re moving because there’s a psychopathic serial killer in the neighborhood.  I’m not lying.  Buyers tend to go to extremes.  They’re trying to rule out any negatives so they give extra weight to any problem they encounter.  A nosey neighbor becomes a stalker, a cranky neighbor is a serial killer, etc.  You get the picture.

Your neighbors may end up getting along really well with the new people, but if you posted online about how much your neighbors drive you crazy, or if you have talked about them to other neighbors expect that to be revealed to your buyers.

If you can’t remove the information at least try to take the emotion down a notch.

The buyers may try to meet the neighbors before they buy:

Prospective buyers frequently knock on neighbors doors and ask about the neighborhood.  I’ve been present when these encounters happened and I promise you neighbors LOVE to talk about the seller’s motivation for the move.  Neighbors also love to give insights and perspectives on the personality of the sellers.  They will share about any arguments you were involved in.  It truly never fails.  Neighbors love to gossip and they really enjoy gossiping with the new folks.

When the sign goes up in front of your house the neighborhood will start talking.  If you want to get out ahead of any trouble you may want to approach things head on.  Go to your close neighbors and tell them that they might get people asking questions about the neighborhood.  If your neighbors ask why you are leaving be very careful in your response.  Instead of talking about what is wrong with the current neighborhood, focus on where you are going instead.

Don’t say “I’m leaving because I’m sick of my neighbor Bob,” or “I just can’t deal with Jill and her nosey ways” instead say, “We’ve found a great house closer to work” or “we’ve found our dream house.”

Remember if you are not happy because of your neighbors the buyer will assume that there’s some crazy stuff happening next door.  They may walk away completely because they don’t want to inherit the hassle of a bad neighbor.

It’s best to leave your neighbors with positive feelings about you and focus the narrative away from the problems so they don’t get overhyped.  If you plant a seed that you are leaving because you love the new place that will be repeated and will dampen any references that the buyers hear about neighborhood arguments.

What if the neighbors talk about you?

Do not worry if your neighbors complain about you.  From what we’ve seen most buyers are unphased by this.  I guess they assume that their interaction with the seller will be limited.  You will be leaving, so you are not a long term problem.  Whatever your neighbor says may provide insight into your personality but complaints about sellers are not given much weight because interactions with sellers are temporary.

The personalities of the neighbors who will live close by is what the buyers will focus on.

No money to pay mortgage

You are selling so you can live within your budget:

Life throws changes our way.  Sometimes we lose employment or suffer other financial insults.  During these times we may need to move to a more affordable environment.  Plenty of homes are sold because the sellers just can’t afford to keep up the property.  There is definitely no shame in that.

If you are already in foreclosure status that will need to be disclosed while you are on the market.  However, if you are up to date in payments and you are just struggling with paying your mortgage you will want to discuss that with your real estate agent.  Your agent can help you devise a plan to get you moved quickly and for the best possible price.

If the house is just too expensive for your budget, but you are not in foreclosure, there’s absolutely no reason to disclose that to the buyers.  Your agent will know that this is not something that should be shared at any time.  It is confidential information.

If buyers know you were struggling financially they could rightly assume that you would be highly motivated to move and avoid the possibility of bankruptcy or foreclosure.  Buyers might discount their offer because they know you want to get out of this situation as soon as possible.

When everything is in good working order you will get a better price.

Try to address broken items before you go on the market, even if it means taking a small loan to get them fixed.  A broken heating and air conditioning unit (HVAC) might cost $1,000 to fix but if a buyer looks at a home that has a broken HVAC they will assume that they will need to buy a whole new unit.

A brand new HVAC unit may cost $6,000 but the buyer will greatly overestimate the price of the repair or replacement.  So, what should cost $6,000 will blossom to $10,000 in the buyer’s mind.

The bottom line is you could fix the unit for the $1,000 and get top dollar, or avoid fixing it and get offers that are $10,000 less. Buyers are keen to judge costs in their favor and they almost always greatly overestimate the costs of repairs.

Triangle buyers want to be enticed by beauty:

We have noticed that our Triangle area buyers are also very picky and have not very interested in doing repairs.  Triangle area residents are used to having great housing options so we want the nicest home, and we want it to be “move in” status.

If you are trying to sell a home in Wake County it is important to remember that clean, up to date and ready for move in, properties will fetch the best price.  This link will bring you to a list of homes for sale in Wake County between the cost of $300,000 to $400,000.  Take a look at the photos and you’ll see how sellers in our area adjust to attract buyers.

Even the foreclosure market is realizing the need to entice interest.  Today many banks will pay to fix up a foreclosure property to capture the top dollar offers.

Are you desperate?

You look like you are desperate to sell:

If you stay at the property when buyers show up to look at the house it gives off a sense of desperation.  The buyers will be turned off because they will not be able to see the house as anything but YOUR house, and they will feel that you intruded on them.

I have yet to see a buyer put in an offer on a house where the seller was present.  The fact that you are there is very disconcerting to the buyers.  Buyers are looking to see if the house is a good fit for their needs and the seller’s presence instinctively gives off the signal that it is not their property.  When sellers are on site their presence is seen as a territorial move.  Buyers immediately rule out these properties because they can’t get past that claim of ownership.

If you absolutely need to stick close to the house, consider going for a walk in the neighborhood or at least stay in your car and park down the street.  Whatever you do stay busy and disconnected so you can give the buyers time to fall in love with the house.

remove family photos when selling

It’s your home, not theirs:

Another thing to consider is to make sure that the house doesn’t look like your home.  You are trying to entice a buyer so you want it to become their home as much as possible.

At the very least, personal items and pictures need to be stored away.   Buyers will be naturally drawn to pictures, particularly personal photos.  If they spend too much time focusing on personal photos inside a home they will stop seeing the house as a good option.  The more time they spend on your personal items, the less likely it is that you will get an offer. Again, psychologically they are learning that the house belongs to the family in the photos.

Consider Staging the House:

The goal of selling a house is to help the buyers visualize that the house is their home.  Displaying personal photos suggest that the home has already been claimed.  Seller personalization should be avoided at all costs.  Instead, try to create a blank slate by focusing on staging.

When we work with sellers we always stage their home.  Staging helps to create great marketing, it is appealing to most buyers and it helps to bring in top dollar offers.  The changes we make truly help to entice interest.  If you are looking to get your home sold quickly and for the best price, you should definitely consider staging.

For Rent.png

You are selling because you want to stop being a landlord:

Selling an occupied rental home comes with a whole set of difficulties.  If you are in this situation it’s best to talk to your agent.  We can come up with a plan to effectively sell the house without interfering with the renter’s lifestyle.

We have worked with many people who are in this situation so we are happy to chat with you about what strategy would work for you.  Call us at (919) 481-4914 or send us a note below, and we’ll reach out to you.