How to Make Your Home Stand Out in a Shifting Market
In a market that is shifting towards a buyer’s market, there are things that can be done to make your home stand out among the others to attract a buyer and possible multiple buyers bidding to buy your home. Remember, today’s buyers have a lot if inventory to choose from and have the luxury of being choosy. Given the market condition they also have no sense of urgency.
I advise sellers to pretend they are purchasing a home. We look at all other comparable homes in the area. By comparable I mean homes that have the most similar characteristics, for example, location, age, size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, upgrades and improvements and condition of the home. I encourage sellers to take a good hard look from the view point of a buyer and analyze all of the available options on the market; I then ask the seller, given the homes available and the asking prices which home would they buy? I also ask for the reasons they chose the home they chose? The number one answer is “It is the best deal for the money.” The number two response is “The home is pristine and has great upgrades.” In order to have the necessary edge in our current market, the home must appear to be a deal and it has to look great. We do not have control over the current market conditions and we cannot change the age or location of the home. It is usually not cost effective to change the size and the number of rooms in a home. That leaves two variables we can control: price and condition.
Pricing the home correctly is essential, a thorough market analysis should be prepared, and the home should be priced below all of the other comparable homes in the area currently for sale. Yes, below, even if the home has more upgrades and shows better. The idea is to get the other less attractive homes with higher prices to make yours look great and help to sell it. I encourage sellers to price the home at the rock bottom price they are willing to accept. This advice is not always happily received by the sellers, however it is the truth. There are two things we are accomplishing by doing this. First we know that real estate agents and buyer’s search based on price and we want our price to be as low as possible because there are more buyers in lower price ranges searching for homes, and we want to show up on the radar screens of as many buyers as possible. Also the home will be compared to homes in a lower price range that will tend to make our home look more attractive rather than comparing our home to similar or superior homes. We want to create a feeling in the pit of the buyer’s stomach that this home is a great deal and that if they don’t make an offer someone else will. I call this strategy instilling a sense of urgency in the buyers. This strategy has proven to create multiple offers, which will often get the seller more than the asking price–a good thing in a buyer’s market.
The other factor we have control of is the condition of the home. Again take a good look at the home from a buyer’s position. First stand at the curb and look at what will be the buyer’s first impression. The home must draw interest and make them want to see more. Is the yard and landscaping in great condition? The entry should be clean, freshly painted and inviting. Potted or planted flowers with color a colorful wreath or a string of chili peppers add a great touch of color. This is the most important place to focus your attention, if the outside doesn’t look good, buyers won’t want to come inside and if they don’t come inside they are not going to buy it. Once we get the buyers in the home, first impression is still our theme. The entryway should look great, free of clutter, clean and inviting. Do not forget the other senses, it should smell good, be a comfortable temperature and nice music makes a great impression. The least expensive, highest return projects are professional cleaning, I mean detailing and painting. If you were selling your car you would detail it, including the engine and the trunk and make it shine–the same goes for your home. Consider hiring a professional staging consultant, they will make your home look like a model home which will make it emotionally appealing to buyers. Staging can be done in a furnished or unfurnished home. Most staging professionals have furniture they will rent for unfurnished homes. The cost ranges from less than $200 for a consultation on up depending on the size and price range of the home. I recently put a property I owned as a rental property on the market to sell. It was vacant and I had a colleague help me in staging it. First, we had the landscaping trimmed and a dead tree replaced. The home was professionally cleaned inside and out. We placed geraniums in pots at the front entry and a colorful wreath of twigs and berries on the front door. In the foyer we placed a round wooded table with a nice table cloth and a vase with flowers and bowl of candy. We spruced up the kitchen and bath rooms with colorful towels with ribbons. In the kitchen we set out bowls with imitation fruit and colorful plates and glasses. We purchased an inexpensive clock radio and tuned it into the smooth jazz station and hid air freshener around the home. We opened the blinds and left the lights on. Finally we set a small patio set on the back patio, with colorful cushions and finished with more potted geraniums. The home sold in less that a week and we received a back up offer as well. The home was also priced $15,000 below the other active similar listings. It helps to go take a look at the builder’s models homes; they will give you the idea or call a professional staging consultant.
The factors we have control over are price and condition. To gain the competitive edge in the real estate game go aggressive on the price and be proactive in making the home as emotionally appealing as possible. This combination is sure to get you that sold sign in the front yard.