Buyers have different needs and desires when buying a home. If you want to attract the right buyers, you need to figure out what they want and make sure your home can deliver. Watch any real estate show on television and it is easy to see that what buyers are willing to give up when they buy a home varies widely. Some people MUST have a nice bath tub, others want the media room to be huge or have a location close to work. Usually buyers can’t afford to get EVERYTHING they want. Otherwise we would all be living in a pink fairy princess castle, right? Oh… just me, huh?.. nevermind then.) The goal is to make sure your home offers as many of the things they “must” have as possible, and forces few compromises. Because you can’t read the minds of the perfect buyer, making a home widely appealing helps attract the right buyers. Here are ideas on how to create house appeal to attract the right buyers in Seattle.
Does The Outside Look Attractive To Home Buyers?
It all starts with curb appeal. That means – how does your house look from the road and driveway when the elusive home buyer first appears on the scene with his agent? That’s when he forms his first impression of what “type” of house this is going to be, and experiences and emotional reaction that is either positive, negative or neutral. Obviously, we want him to experience LOVE at first sight, so how are we going to make sure your home looks amazing from the outside?
The moment a prospective buyer walks up to a house sets the tone for the walk-through. Even buyers who intend to redo landscaping appreciate a bright green well-manicured lawn. Make sure all landscaping is free of weeds and tame areas with invasive ground cover. If you have blackberries, horsetails, morning glory, creeping buttercup, or other invasive weed problems, consider hiring a professional to clear out your lot. Better it look like a spacious blank slate than a fearsome tangle from a land that time forgot!
Here are a few items from my Seller’s Property-Prep Checklist that you can use to make sure you’ve covered the basics and can help your home attract the right buyers.
Home Seller’s Exterior Clean Up:
- Trim trees and bushes, especially if they are touching the house or growing into walk ways and driveways.
- Remove any dead or dying plants.
- Plant new plants or bring in planters to keep the landscaping look full and colorful.
- Get rid of trash or tacky/faded “decorations” from the yard
- Store old patio furniture, kids toys, trampolines, etc.
- Make sure all pathways are easy to walk – trim back the foliage and ensure even stepping stones or pavers won’t wobble.
- Mow and fertilize the lawn
- Take a look at the outside of the home for problem areas.
- Pressure wash the siding and sidewalk if necessary, especially if you have a lot of moss and mildew.
- Remove personal items that are stored outside, such as shoes, garden tools, umbrellas, etc.
Attract The Right Buyers And Close The Sale With A Crisp, Clean Interior
Here’s a fun idea, why don’t you pretend you are a buyer and look at a hundred homes for sale online. Look at how some homes for sale seem perfect and shiny in the photos, and a few look like crazy people live there and have gotten very creative and/or very messy with their homes. Which do you think is more likely to attract the right buyers?
Some people are very clean, and some are comfortable with more clutter in day-to-day life. (This may be a function of the age of the children, the amount of worldly goods stored in the home, and how much time you devote to cleaning up every day and every week. I’m not here to judge.)
Whatever your house looks like normally is NOT what it should look like when it’s for sale. You want the interior of the home to look like a magazine spread. Even if it’s just a simple home, remember your buyers have spent the last six months watching HGTV home makeover shows and looking at pinterest, and they want to live in and decorate a perfect “dream home.” You have to get it as close as possible to their imagined vision. Sometimes going with a neural starting point with walls and flooring, and adding attractive staging is the most profitable way to go.
If your home has a strong sense of personal style, you might want to make it more neutral by removing some of your more extravagant pieces. Anything violent, political, overtly religious, or suggestive are items on my chopping block that I will suggest sellers remove before showing their property.
Some people, for example, get very uncomfortable when they go into the master bedroom and see nude artwork, or suggestive pictures of the occupants of the home. So, you might want to take those down, too. (What? I’m not judging, honest!)
In addition, every agent tells sellers to clear away clutter. This is the first thing to do to make any home more appealing to the right buyers. No one wants to walk into someone else’s “real life” mess. Buyers want to walk in and envision themselves in the house. Removing clutter, laundry piles, dirty dishes, piles of books, stacks of mail, and so on allows them to imagine what the home would look like with their things in place instead.
Interior paint needs to be neutral when possible. Again, giving buyers the ability to think in terms of a canvas to paint on. Don’t keep lots of personal items such as pictures or unique trinket collections on display. Pack them away for the move and let the buyers imagine their own family picture wall.
While buyers need a neutral slate, a blank slate is not great either. When a home has no furniture, buyers might not have a good perspective on how furniture fits into a home. This can be especially true in rooms with unusually-shaped rooms, rooms that are very small, or open floor plan rooms, where the furniture could be arranged in a wide number of layouts.
This is why staging is so important, whether using existing furniture or renting, your home will look great – as if an interior designer has re-imagined it for you. With their tiny furniture, a stager can make even a compact floor plan seem spacious – you will be amazed how the space opens up, as compared to how it looked with the overstuffed wrap around sofa you used to have there. Your real estate agent and/or stager should walk through a home with you, drawing on the experience of seeing other homes and how they handled staging and interior set up, so they can help you set up the home to make it as attractive as possible.
No home seller should tolerate a realtor that is complacent in marketing. Once the home is prepared for sale, professional photography is essential. A deep clean and decluttering prior to is essential as well.
No one wants to go to a house that shows bathroom counters littered with toothbrushes, toothpaste smears, medication bottles, and personal hygiene items. Photos put on all digital and print marketing needs to show the house off, making it look like it belongs in a magazine. For higher end homes, we do video tours with drone footage of extended property boundaries. The more expensive your home, the more we will invest in getting it cleaned, updated and primed for a fast sale. That is what home buyers in top price ranges demand and expect.
Your real estate agent will also make sure all marketing materials clearly talk about neighborhood benefits as well. If there are parks nearby, an easy commute, walkable pubs and coffee shops, or an off-leash dog park, we will want to attract the right buyers with this important information. We want them to understand the lifestlye they can live from their new house. Many buyers want to hear about the school district, bus access or proximity to business centers, and local shopping and restaurant options. If you have a list of “favorite places to visit” make sure you tell your agent and she can put it in a marketing package for the home buyers.
The reason neighborhoods like Greenlake and Ballard are popular is their proximity to downtown, urban nightlife, and walkability. Further north of Seattle, folks love to live in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park because of the excellent school districts. Everett and Lynnwood are more affordable locations that still provide easy bus access to both Seattle and Bellevue for work. You might not know what prospective buyers who you have never met will truly want, but you can guess and anticipate their needs and show them how buying your house will contribute tho their desired lifestyle.
Buyers move into desirable neighborhoods so in addition to showing off your house, well want to show off your neighborhood in a good light. These are key issues to help attract the right buyer who might overlook something they want in a house because it meets other neighborhood needs.