Every Realtor has a blog post with this title, full of common sense drivel like ‘keep your home sparklingly clean… blah blah’
Look, selling a home is frustrating. So it’s time to totally honest.
Here are the 3 things that everyone selling a home really needs to understand.
First, a caveat: every point should say Most Home Buyers Are… I’m worried that you will think: ‘Let’s just focus on buyers who aren’t cheap, lazy, outrageous.’ But that will escalate frustration. And cost you thousands of dollars. So just assume I’m talking everybody who buys a house.
Are you ready…?
1. Home Buyers Are Cheap
Ya know what every single home buyer tells me: ‘I want a great deal.’
Ya know what no one has ever told me: ‘I’m willing to pay fair market value for a house.’ Never. Not once.
Somehow, they think that houses go on sale. That sellers are willing to give their home away. They’ve seen it on HGTV. They have a friend who brags about their killer deal. Their Realtor has billed himself as a negotiating genius.
Home buyers look at what comparable homes sold for and think: ‘That’s nice. I want my house for less.’
Blame Amazon.com, blame Costco, blame Kijiji. But accept it, no one wants to pay what you’re home is actually worth.
I got a call last week from the friend of a client. She’s been trying to sell her house for 4 months. It was a showhome 5 years ago. They’ve developed the basement and added landscaping. They just want to sell it for what they paid plus the money they put into it. I told her that I get it, but that’s not a deal. And especially these days, the houses that are actually selling, are great deals.
2. Home Buyers Are Lazy
The other day, the owner of one of my listings said in an email: ‘The whole idea of buying a house is to change it to suit your own needs, I always thought. Or are people just lazy these days?’
My reply: ‘People are incredibly lazy these days.’
100% move-in ready isn’t a selling feature. It’s a requirement.
Ask yourself, how handy are you? What are you actually capable of fixing/renovating? Even if you’re capable, do you really want to spend your weekends puttering around your house? Some of you will say yes… the rest of us think you’re crazy.
The simple fact is — buyers don’t want to change anything. They don’t want a home that requires effort.
There is an occasional home buyer, inspired by HGTV, who’s willing to put in a little elbow grease. But purely cosmetic renos. They aren’t replacing windows or a roof, or even a hot water tank. They want ‘good bones’. Which has come mean, ‘not a single wrong with it’.
I had a listing in a great location on big lot with a cool view that needed to be painted and the floors weren’t in great shape — livable, but not great. The roof probably had 5–7 years left. It never sold. ‘Too much work’ was the consistent feedback.
3. Home Buyers Have Bullshit Expectations
Home buyers have an idea of the house they want. Then they have a budget. These two things are baking soda and vinegar, combining them is a fun experiment, but doesn’t yield anything productive.
Their list of needs far exceeds their budget. Usually. Then there’s the list of wants… that list is out of control. Always.
Buyers want more than their budget can get them. It doesn’t matter what the budget is, it can’t get them everything they feel they deserve.
I listed a house that was built in the mid 90s. It was well maintained, had new carpets, and on a big lot in a nice neighborhood. The kitchen and bathrooms were original. It’s was priced like it had an original kitchen.
The consistent feedback was: it’s too outdated.
My reply: could the buyers afford the house if the kitchen was updated?
No one ever replied.
Now you’re asking ‘Well geez Tim… how can I get my house sold?’
It’s actually pretty easy.
- Price your home well. Not the price you want, but the price it will sell for. A price that says, this is a decent deal. Your goal is to make a buyer say ‘This price makes sense. I wanted it for less, but I’m happy with what I paid for it’.
- Take care of your house. Not just in the days leading up to the listing. Maintaining your home shows buyers that you’ve loved your home. There are no lurking surprises. Homes are kinda like puppies — it’s hard for a potential buyer to fall in love with a home that no one else has loved.
- Small extras can go a long way. Spending some money to update an old kitchen is worth it. Replacing beat up floors with cheap new floors is worth it. You’re throwing away money if you don’t make at least one trip to IKEA before you list your home.
One of my best friends listed his house with me this summer. He did everything I told him to. He wanted to price it higher than I suggested, but we went with my price. He replaced some old windows, painted, fixed up a few minor things, and had the house looking great. Not sparkling and new, but well loved. Then he reconfigured some rooms to make take advantage of the spaciousness.
Then I marketed the hell out of that bitch. Professional photos. Unique URL. Targeted Facebook campaign…
It sold in a week. At a solid price. In a slow market. Mic drop.