Name That House

As a kid, I used to watch Name That Tune with my family when Tom Kennedy was the host.  Contestants were given a clue and then had to say how few notes it would take to come up with the song title.

Did you know that buyers give homes nicknames to help them remember?  When you look at 5-10 homes at a time, buyers tend to nickname a home based on a feature of the home, positive or negative.

As I am watching real estate inventories creep up here in the Salem Oregon area, I am always surprised when I walk into a home that is not properly prepared for sale.  We are no longer in the days of easy sales.  Each home has to be at its best in order to get sold or so dang cheap that buyers don’t care.  As you are prepping your home for sale, you want to make sure that buyer’s can’t  play “Name That House” in a negative way.

1. Melina, I can name that house in 7 words…”The seller must be smoking crack house.” Your home is not as special as you think it is. There I said it.  Your home is special to you because you tailored it to your taste.  Unless there is something TRULY unique about your property, I can almost guarantee you that are there are
similar homes out there to attract buyers.  Just because you have a craftsman bungalow doesn’t mean that a buyer isn’t okay living in a cape cod also.  Don’t overvalue your property because you think it is unique.

2. Melina, I can name that house in 4 words…”The pubic hair home.” Need I say more?  Some sellers…well some of you just don’t understand the definition of clean. When you are selling your home, your home needs to be clean, clean…I mean wipe down the cabinets, scrub the trim and grout with a toothbrush kind of clean.  Hair in the shower…is not considered clean.  If you are okay with dirt that is fine, but during the sale of your home…keep it to yourself.

stinky3. Melina, I can name that house in 5 words…”The pukey apple cinnamon house.”  “Your home may not smell as good as you think it does. In fact it should not smell…like anything. Nothing, nada, zip.  You should be able to walk into your home and smell NOTHING.  While I am a fan of baking cookies and fresh bread, buyers are leery of scents.  They wonder what the heck you are trying to cover up.  If you home has no smell.  Keep it that way.  No smell is the best. Remember that pregnant women can be overly sensitive to smells, and there is nothing worse, as a real estate agent, than watching a pregnant woman book out of a house due to a vanilla scented candle that is making her queasy.

4. Melina, I can name that house in 4 words… “The alien green house.” You home can’t be yours any more…it has to be a product. This is one of the hardest things for sellers.  You still have to live in the house so you want it to feel homey, but it has to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.  So if you have wallpaper, borders…they HAVE to come off.  The mere mention of removing wallpaper can send some buyers scurrying…

It also means if you painted the exterior of your house NEON green…I mean so green that airplanes can use it as a landing beacon…you better grab that paintbrush.  Buyers will take one look at the color and think of the cost of hiring a professional painter and will head to the next 100 homes on the market that meet their criteria.

Still life of old, dilapidated doll.5. Melina I can name that house in 5 words…  “The bride of Chucky house.” If you are a collector…put them away. Nothing like walking into a home and seeing that huge boar’s head, knife collection, or doll collection looking at you.  Remember that this is a product, and dead animals give many people the heebie jeebies and dolls…well have you seen Chucky?  Box ’em.

6. Melina I can name that house in 3 words… “The frat house” You may not have good taste or sense of design. I know this is harsh because it is your home, but just because you like to have your super humongous TV in front of the windows to reduce glare, it does not mean that it  belongs there.  You may have to live with glare on your TV for several months so that buyers can see how the room is supposed to flow.  I often see sellers with good furniture, just not properly arranged for the architecture of the room.  Hire a stager to make the most of what you have.

Remember your home is a product now.


If you are looking to put your home on the real estate market here in Salem Oregon remember that buyers are going to be playing Name That House.  It should be your goal to get them to Name That House in 5 words…

“Let’s write up an offer.”

9 Comments on “Name That House”

  • Recent buyer February 28th, 2009 2:17 am

    During our loooong period of shopping for a house, we found ourselves referring to houses by the overhyped promo language that a lot of realtors use — we ended up buying a house not too far from one that we always referred to as “Cute!! Cute!! Cute!!” after the bold giant multi-colored heading on the flyer that was in the yard sign holder. The house wasn’t cute, it was weird, but even if it had been cute, I think that flyer hurt them a lot.

  • melina@tomsonburnham.com February 28th, 2009 1:22 pm

    Recent buyer, I have had buyers use agents descriptions sarcastically as well.

  • Jim Allhiser February 28th, 2009 10:48 pm

    Melina,
    That is very funny. I love your pictures. That lady holding her nose takes me back to when we were house hunting…..

  • melina@tomsonburnham.com March 1st, 2009 12:24 pm

    Jim isn’t it crazy…I think each of my buyers has had to experience a stinky home. That’s okay when the price is dropped, but market price AND stinky…not happening…

  • salem Man March 1st, 2009 5:08 pm

    Some of the other houses we looked at before buying this one.

    “The house with the round room”
    “the worn out 1970’s green carpet house”
    “the house on the terribly named street”
    “the house that backs up to the Wendy’s drive thru, next to the cemetery”

  • melina@tomsonburnham.com March 2nd, 2009 7:48 pm

    The house with the round room? Were you looking at the oval office or something?

    I like the terribly named street one. My favorite client one was the “the red bidet house.”

  • […] Smells.  The number 1 thing buyers hated when house hunting was smelly houses.  Pet smell was the worst offender, but smoke and cooking smells were up there too.  I was in a house this weekend where a bedroom reeked of urine. As there was a toddler bed in the room, I knew that a small child was working on making it through the night, but…it smelled BAD.  Homes should have no smell. […]

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