You need to sell your home, but in today’s market, it takes more than good curb appeal. Here are five tips of the trade that will get you the offers you’re looking for. From marketing neighborhood hot spots to tossing the curtains, these tips will (fulfill buyers’ real estate fantasies and) get your home one step closer to sold. And buyers, these tips can help you think twice before biting.
We all know buyers care about beds, baths, square feet and location, location, location. But inside the minds of American homebuyers lurk a handful of surprising housing-related hot buttons which inspire offers and get homes sold.
As you’ll see, these hot buttons largely play on homebuyers’ fantasies about how their life will be different/better/perfect if they buy a particular home, and on the neuropsychology underlying how buyers experience light and space. But if you’re a buyer, beware: the things you think will make you happy may not have the effect you think.
1. Your Neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Or Costco, or other outpost for daily living supplies that tends to have a rabid following. On a recent HuffingtonPost article about the Trader Joe’s grocery chain, one visitor left a comment to the effect that they selected their home largely based on its proximity to a Trader Joe’s! And buyer’s brokers will tell you – homebuyers’ eyes light up and they pay a much closer look to homes near Whole Foods, a local favorite coffeehouse or farmer’s market.
This specific location factor vividly colors in a buyer’s mental image of strolling a block or two over to do something they already like – or need – to do very much, and very frequently. So, if your home is near one of these favored local haunts, ask your agent to call it out – by name – in your home’s marketing flyers or listing description, if there’s room.
2. Staging Your Patio/Deck/Backyard/Front Porch. Homebuyers see the bistro set you have set up on your bedroom balcony and envision rolling out of bed to a Sunday morning brunch as they leisurely peruse the New York Times. It’s a fantasy, after all, so there’s no need to fill in all the details, like who’s preparing that brunch (not to mention who’s squeezing the fresh grapefruit juice)!
Many buyers – especially those who have always lived in apartments with little or no outside space – are enamored with the idea of being able to spend time and entertain outdoors, so if you’re a seller with a home that has any outdoor space, it behooves you to stage it with little furniture vignettes that show the space off to its best advantage.
But buyers, beware: studies show that indoor spaces have a much greater impact on a homeowners’ happiness than outdoor spaces, so don’t let the gorgeous English garden sway you into thinking you’ll be sublimely happy in a home where the interior doesn’t do much for you.
3. Tossing the Curtains. Some sellers think they need to install plantation shutters or at least tszuj up their played-out old wicker blinds or other window coverings. Then, cash flow dries up and this is the home staging to-do item that gets tossed off the list. Alison Whitelaw, architect and vice president of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture says, “light and color have a definite impact on people’s emotional response.” Home features that max out the amount of full-spectrum light to which a person is exposed – like sunlight or special bulbs and lamps that seek to mimic natural light – have been proven to actually cause people in the home to feel better – even happier.
So, ditch your curtains. Unless you’re prepared to invest in new window coverings, it might be preferable to simply toss your blinds and curtains altogether. It might be tough to get full privacy while you’re still living in the home, but the buyers who see your house will rate it as lighter, brighter, more spacious and simply better than they would have, with the rooms darkened or even the curtains opened, but still on the rod.
Buyers – take note. If you find a house dark or dreary, have someone in your house hunting group open the window coverings as much as possible. You might be able to just get rid of them and automatically get the natural light you crave.
4. Shelves, nooks and crannies. Many an apartment dweller decides to buy a home because they are literally busting at the seams. Many are orderly people living disorderly lives because they have a big-time shortage of storage space, and the space they do have lacks structure and order.
Built-in shelves, drawers, closet organizers, nooks and niches all give prospective buyers hope that there’s an organized, sophisticated life in their near future if they buy your home – a future in which there’s a place for everything, and everything lives in its place. If you have these, highlight them; if you have funky-shaped niches or nooks and are looking for something smart to do with them before you put your home up for sale, consider installing inexpensive (but attractive) shelving.
And buyers, if a home you otherwise love is short on closets or storage, hit up IKEA or California Closets for some quick-and-easy storage, or talk with a handyperson about building some in. It can be much less expensive than you might think.
5. How close your neighborhood stores are to the street. Studies show that homes with high WalkScores are worth more in the eyes of homebuyers – and they sell for more, too. Many sellers say their home is “steps from” this or that amenity or shopping district, totally ignoring the fact that the big box stores are eons away from the street, with massive parking lots lying between a pedestrian and their entrances.
The cute, stroll-ey, neighborhood shopping districts that buyers fall in love with are the ones in which the stores’ entry doors are right near the sidewalks – parking, if any, is on the street or behind the store. If your home is located near one of these types of shopping districts – which are often named – make sure that is highlighted in your home’s marketing materials.
And buyers – if you’re a sucker for this sort of thing, there’s certainly no quick fix to make the stores that ARE near your dream home closer to the street or more “strollable.” Just keep in mind that even the stroll-ey-ist of districts would love for you to drive over and adopt it as your neighborhood – for an afternoon.
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5 Things (You Didn’t Know) To Get Your Home Sold