No, it’s not a typo – truly, this is the home BUYER’S guide to selling your home. After all, WHO really matters when you put your home on the market? Who do you care about? The person who is GOING TO BUY YOUR home, right? Well, I work with buyers each and every day and I have the inside scoop on those folks. I’ve heard anything and everything they’ve said about homes. Here’s what they would want you to know – let’s look at home selling from a BUYER’S perspective.
FIRST, we all know that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. So most of the time, where is the first place our home buyer is going to see your home? ON THE INTERNET. And the first thing they see the first time they see your home is the first picture in your listing, so let’s start there. First of all, professional photography with a wide angle lens is a non-negotiable. Have professional photography. Not having professional pictures can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t even talk to an agent who doesn’t hire a photographer.
The first picture needs to be the front of your house. If it isn’t, our buyer will presume something is WRONG with the front of your home. Put your landscaper to work and make your home shine from the street. IF that first picture isn’t great, our home buyer isn’t going to click through. And here’s a builder’s trick – take all the screens off your front windows. A home has a much cleaner, prettier look in pictures when there are no screens. Put them away in case your buyer wants them – just have them off for pictures.
And let’s back up a second – how has our buyer landed on your home to even see that first picture to begin with? They search in a given area IN THEIR PRICE RANGE. So say our buyer can afford up to $500,000. The homes that are going to STAND OUT are the very best homes at $500,000 and below, and those are the ones the buyer will ask their agent to show them. If you’re the best home in the $450,000 range, you’re likely the worst home in the $500,000 price point, SO DO NOT OVERPRICE. How are you going to know how you compare? Hop in your agent’s car, and check out the competition. See what homes buyers are going to see when they are out to see yours. Make sure yours is the BEST at your price point. If it isn’t, either make it the best or re-price so that it is.
Think you have time to wait it out and “see” if you can get a higher price? Know it isn’t that easy. It won’t surprise you to hear that one of the first things a buyer asks when we walk into a home is “how long has this been on the market”? The longer on the market, the worse it is in a buyer’s mind. If no one else wanted it, they don’t want it either. Or if they DO want it, they presume they can get it for a bargain because it’s been on the market so long. Buyers aren’t focused on or even aware of the fact that your home was previously overpriced and then reduced; all they know is that it’s been on the market a long time and no one else purchased it. So overpricing and then reducing is not a good strategy either. PRICE RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING. Buyers look at NEW listings, and you’ll get your most attention and activity the first few weeks on the market.
While we’re at it, let’s discuss 99 pricing strategy. You know, where sellers price their home at $899,000 thinking that looks better than $900,000? Well, it doesn’t. It looks like you came from Walmart pricing school, and that’s not a good image for a $900,000 home. You aren’t fooling anyone, and if you are fooling someone, it’s not the buyer who can afford your home. Another reason not to 99 it = buyers search in price “bands”. Someone who’s searching from $900,000 to $925,000 isn’t going to see your home at $899,000. At $900,000 you’re in two searches: $875,000 to $900,000 and $900,000 to $925,000. Round numbers land you in more searches. More eyes on your listing means more feet in the door… and more offers on the table.
STAGING your home is a topic too involved for one article. But from a buyer’s perspective, let me share a few secrets: first, that plastic fruit and fake plastic wine is just creepy. Really! It’s too desperate and makes it look like you’re trying too hard, and buyers talk about the “fake” stuff and not the real house. That and the fake television sets! Stage with real things. Minimize clutter and personal items, especially things that might draw attention away from your home. And think about your target buyer – if your target buyer is a first time home buying millennial, by all means get a millennial into your home (a truthful and candid one, preferably) and walk around with them. My guess is they’ll tell you to get rid of the doilies AND that fake plastic fruit. Also ask if there’s any discernible smell. You, seller, have gotten used to the smells in your home and there’s no way you can be objective about that either. Keep in mind that CLEANING PRODUCT, particularly anything lemon scented, is usually a great smell. You don’t want to mask your smells, you want to eliminate the bad and bring in the good. Be open minded, have a tough skin, and ask for frank feedback.
FINALLY, your buyer wants you to know to LEAVE THE BUYER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Bake chocolate chip cookies and leave a note so the buyer will know they can eat one. Everything looks better on chocolate! Leave another note detailing what you love about the home and the neighborhood. Buyers buy emotionally – they may justify logically, but they buy emotionally. Chocolate chip cookies and a handwritten note ARE appreciated. It is usually just one out of twenty homes that will leave cookies and a note, and it always makes an impression.
SO, there you have it – your home buyer’s guide to selling your home. Always try to look at your home and the process from the perspective of the buyer you seek!
Mary Anne Walser is a licensed attorney and full-time REALTOR, serving buyers and sellers in all areas of Metro Atlanta. Her knowledge of residential real estate and her legal expertise allow her to offer great value to her clients. Mary Anne serves on the Committee that drafts and reviews the contracts utilized by all REALTORS in the State of Georgia. In addition, she is a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, the Georgia Association of Realtors, the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers. Contact Mary Anne at 404-277-3527, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.