What makes a home Sell?
Why do some homes sell the first weekend on the market while others homes sit and linger? Sometimes it almost doesn’t seem fair. Sellers do what their agent or home stager tells them to do and it just doesn’t seem to get any offers. All parties involved end up looking at each other with their shoulders shrugged not knowing what to do.
Welcome to the new era of real estate. Welcome to the HGTV and DIY world of the millennium buyers. Today’s buyers are more sophisticated and have more information available to them before they make a home purchase decision than ever before. It’s not that today’s buyers are more difficult, they are just better informed.
Let’s take a step back in our time machine to say 1980. It was a great time to be looking for a home, interest rates were around 12% to 16% and the home decorating ideas, well let’s just say they were oh so Brady Bunch. There was no internet, no cable television home remodeling shows. There were a few magazines and the newspaper that savvy buyers could keep up with the latest design inspirations. A home buyer either drove around until they found a property or they enlisted the help of a real estate agent. The agent would have access to the MLS and could help find available properties. The MLS was a single printed copy of listings in each broker’s office. Each week new listings would be delivered and added to the book and the sold or expired listings would be removed. Information was scares compared to today’s standards.
If a buyer wanted to see what types of homes were selling, they either had to get in their car and go look or they had to listen to the advice of their agent. Sounds like ancient times compared to today. Today, buyers can get every detail about a home on their phone. Professional photos, floorplans, school ratings and reviews, video tours of a property, aerial flyovers of the entire neighborhood, all this and more right on your smart phone.
What this information overload does to a buyer’s mindset is say, “Look this is what you can get if you just keep looking hard enough. You can get the granite and the stainless steel and the renovated master bathroom. See this home that sold in 14 minutes for top dollar, you can get it too if you just look hard enough.”
The problem is that those perfect homes don’t come along very often. When I walk into a perfect home the story is normally very similar. This was our forever home. We spent a fortune getting this home looking like it does because we wanted to stay here, but my company just relocated me and we have to move. We know that even if we get top dollar we will still be losing our shirts. The lucky buyer of this home will have to pay top dollar to get the property, but they will still be getting a good deal.
And all of the other buyers will see the photos and will be upset because they missed out. But those buyers won’t forget this house, oh no, this will now be the home that all others will be compared. If all of those buyers don’t find another home close to the perfect home, then they will just be settling. So off they go looking and looking and looking for another perfect home.
And the other important thing to know about today’s home buyers, is that they don’t just want a few things on their wish list, no not at all, they have to have everything on their list.
So what is a seller to do? You can’t move your home to a different school zone. You can’t add a bathroom or another bedroom. What can you do? You can and you really need to make your home the absolute best that it can be. The landscaping needs to look nice and attractive. When a buyer drives up and is sitting in the driveway, what is the wife going to turn to the husband and say? It had better be, “This is a really cute pretty home! I can’t wait to get inside.”
Standing at the front door, a buyer needs to see fresh and clean paint. This is what the friends of this buyer will be looking at in a few weeks. Mr. and Mrs. Buyer want to be proud of their new home. They want their friends to say how lovely their new home looks. This means no wood rot, no loose caulking or dingy paint.
Nothing changes the look of a home like new light fixtures. I understand the ceiling fan works just fine and yes that brass was pretty when the house was new, but it’s not what buyer’s want in their new home. Go to the big box home stores and pick out some new light fixtures and ceiling fans. Changing out light fixtures is the cheapest and fastest way to upgrade a home. In one Saturday you can change out every fixture in your home.
Fresh clean neutral paint and carpet. Don’t! Don’t even say it. You don’t want to spend the money on a color that the buyers might not like. I told you not to say it. Ok you’re right, we don’t know what the buyers favorite color might be, but I am sure about one thing, no one is going to like your ugly beat up and dirty carpet and walls. Pick neutral and clean. We are looking for something that says, I’m brand new and clean. I’m safe for your toddler to crawl on because I was installed last week. BUY ME!
Kitchens and baths. Ok let me explain the financial side of kitchens and baths. You can spend a fortune on kitchens and baths and I’m not telling you that you must break the bank to sell your home. But no one wants to buy your yellow Formica counters with the knife marks where Uncle Ted tried to carve the turkey after a few too many. Depending on your price point, buyers expect granite countertops and tile backsplashes. The appliances need to be updated and the cabinets should be clean and attractive. Bathrooms need new vanities and maybe even new floors. New mirrors and light fixtures are fairly inexpensive and can dramatically change the appearance of an old and tired bathroom.
Now to the finance part. A buyer can get a mortgage. A buyer can even get a mortgage that will cover a home with a nice updated kitchen and baths. If a buyer pays $40,000 more for a home it will only cost them about $200 more a month compared to buying a cheaper home with no updates. Fact – most buyers have very little to no cash available for upgrades. I see very few deals where the buyer has a 20% down payment, much less an extra $40,000 available to upgrade the kitchens and baths. But they can get a mortgage, and they can get a mortgage for that perfect home, all they have to do is find it, so they keep looking. And looking is a whole lot easier than renovating. And this is the main reason that people don’t buy old and outdated – they might try to steal it at a super reduced price – but they don’t buy tired and dated.
It’s not easy selling homes in this super competitive market. You need an expert to help you make these very important decisions so that you end up in the best possible financial position. My team and my business is dedicated to helping you understand the market and evaluating your options. We do this every day and we have helped hundreds of sellers just like you get their homes sold for the most amount of money, in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of effort. Call or email me anytime to discuss how we can help you get your home sold and you where you need to be.
Team Leader and Listing Specialist – Reames Realty Group
(757) 871-2146 Direct