Improving the appeal of your home to potential buyers, while helping to shorten its time on the market and selling it for top dollar, can be done with some fairly basic steps. Often, it’s about handling purchaser objections.
This topic came to mind as I watched an episode of House Hunters on HGTV. Have you ever watched this show? If not, it generally follows the format of featuring home buyers that are looking to purchase in a specific community, and is deciding between 3 homes. These can be condos, townhomes, or single family homes, depending on the episode. As the buyers go through each home, they comment on what they like or dislike about the features. The better episodes can give a basic feel for what it’s like to be in their shoes when making purchase decisions that best fit their preferences. Some people like the show, some think it’s cheesy. Personally, I don’t view it as much as I once did, but on occasion it’s interesting to watch.
Anyway, one episode caught my attention as a homebuyer commented on the color of the walls in a room, insinuating that they were ugly. This seemed to turn her (I think it was the wife) off to the house in general, the way the comment came out. Really, I suspect that this is quite common in general, where one or both buyers turn their noses up at the walls, and complain about the walls and how they don’t like the color scheme, how it’s so “70’s”, or something of the like. I’ve heard of people complaining of the color of appliances too, saying they look too “yellow” or “avocado green”. Well, that’s the way they looked in that era! Might as well get a new appliance upon purchase, and look at the existing one as a free appliance. It’s often how we frame things, right? 🙂
The thing is, small factors as this are no reason to think negatively about a home. It’s an easy fix, as painting doesn’t cost much.
If you’re a home seller, it can be frustrating to have people complain about things like that. Why can’t they see that they’re complaining about something so nonsensical?
Well, home buyers aren’t always rational. Even someone like me, who probably spends more focus on the value of the home than the feel of it, has personal preferences and biases too. When they emerge based on first impressions, it can be an early hole that a home seller has to dig out of.
Instead of leaving it to the buyers, why not do a few quick things to improve the appeal of your home?
Here are 6 low-cost tips to make your home more attractive to buyers, some of which I employed in the past:
1. Fresh Coat of Paint. Repainting the inside of your home with a fresh coat, using colors that have broad appeal, can go a long way. If you walk on the wild side with the color palette, you might hit a home run with a few buyers but turn off many others. Best to avoid objections, and keep your house in play with as many buyers as possible, by being safe with colors.
My Experience: A condo I once owned had totally neutral colors – as in white – while an older home I owned had a few bolder colors. I got no objections on the boring white walls, and more objections on the more interesting colors. The thing is, even those “interesting” colors were really not so bold – they just weren’t all totally neutral.
2. De-Clutter. Buyers want space at the best price. The problem is that if you as the homeowner have a lot of furniture, pictures, knickknacks, etc – it might take away from the sense of spaciousness in a room. Simply reorganizing a room and moving unnecessary personal items away can make a room seem more spacious, thus letting prospective buyers see the potential for the room and imagine their own furniture and belongings there. Keep in this mind for kitchens, as they tend to be a focal point in a home.
My Experience: When the aforementioned house was on sale originally, there were larger kids’ toys present in the family room. They were actively used and enjoyed, so I didn’t want to remove them or relocate them. I figured that home life came first, and I didn’t need to remove them just to please some short-sighted buyers. I soon figured out, based on other realtor feedback, that the room seemed a bit cluttered and would show better with the toys completely removed. It was a bit of a nuisance to move them elsewhere and change play patterns for a little child at home, but it had to be done.
3. Shape up the Exterior Appearance of Your Home. This primarily applies to single-family homes. When people come to see your home, they have probably seen a picture of it online. Technically, that might be the first impression. However, the first “real” look at your home, in person, will probably make a stronger impression. Two houses could be identical, but one could be a bit shabby looking in terms of the landscaping and exterior, and the other could be clean and crisp. Much of this work can be done at moderate costs. Don’t let this be an immediate objection that immediately sours a homebuyer on your home.
My Experience: I made sure to keep the home’s exterior looking sharp, in terms of grass mowed, basic landscaping taken care of, etc. I employed a lawn service for weed prevention as well. There were costs involved, but it was worth it for making a good first impression. Prospective buyers liked the curb appeal as a result. Even with a value-minded approach as a homebuyer, even I’ve slipped into judging a home based on its exterior appearance. It’s kind of like a “halo effect”: “if this looks shabby, I wonder if mechanicals are shabby too?” Imagine what a less-rational homebuyer might think.
4. Make the Front Entryway Hospitable and Inviting. Again going back to first impressions, once the buyers get to your front steps, they’re about to get their first impression of the home’s interior. If you walk into a house and the front door’s paint is peeling (or dented, etc), and the foyer area is plain – or worse, dirty – it won’t look good. Simply making sure your front door looks good, and the entryway is warm and inviting can help keep early buyer impressions positive. Make them feel like this could be a home, so perhaps an accent like a very nice rug could add to this feel
My Experience: Initially, I had an older storm door in front of the front door, and a regular looking rug. It cost me $200 total to get a nice new storm door put in, along with the front door repainted and a nice rug purchased. Feedback from my agent (with buyer feedback) was positive once that took place
5. Stage Furniture. You want to make the home seem spacious and allow the buyer to feel like they could call your place home. Along those lines, don’t arrange the furniture to fit your own needs. Rather, arrange it to how it looks best to prospective buyers. Let your agent help you arrange your furniture in such a way that you’re making a buyer-friendly presentation.
My Experience: Not wanting to change things up, I originally kept furniture in place. After hearing some specific feedback on how the rooms looked, I moved things around a bit. Again, making that room appear more spacious and inviting helped create a more favorable impression.
To me, these tips are all about removing buyer objections.
Short of pouring money in remodeling your home (new kitchen, bathrooms, etc), your home really is what it is in the big picture. You can’t make a 40 year old home with 3 bedrooms and a small kitchen look like a brand new house with 5 large bedrooms, a master suite, and a large gourmet kitchen. What you can do, however, is take what you have and let the buyers see it in the most favorable light.
There is a lot of low-hanging fruit in these efforts, and it doesn’t require a ton of cash to make your home more appealing to would-be buyers in terms of initial impressions.
My Questions for You:
1. Have you ever sold a home, and if so – have you ever employed any of these techniques, or did you resist?
2. If you’ve ever been searching for a home, did many of these superficial things bother you? Like I said, they can even impact me a bit despite my perception that I’m fairly rational and bigger-picture in mindset when looking at such aspects of a home. What about you?