Making that First Impression
By Dan Steward
RISMEDIA, January 10, 2011—When getting a home ready to be put on the market, it is crucial that home sellers understand the importance of making a good first impression. While many sellers become overwhelmed with the amount of changes they think must be made before their home is listed, there are only a few areas that really matter.
People decide within 30 seconds of walking into a home whether they might want to buy it, so it’s crucial to make a great first impression. But nobody wants to overspend on anything these days, so it’s important to spend only on those things that really matter.
Based on our experience working with thousands of REALTORS® across the country, here is a check list that you can use with your clients that will make their homes more likely to sell and garner better prices:
Curb appeal. While people spend lots of time on details inside the home—to the point of, perhaps, baking cookies to create a welcoming aroma—too few focus on the real first impression: how the house looks as prospective buyers step out of their car.
Spending a little money on gardening can remove impediments, such as overgrown foliage. The effort can also brighten a home’s appearance and make it much more welcoming. A bit of gardening can help paint a scene, so possible buyers can see their kids playing in the yard or can imagine sitting outside in the evening with a glass of wine.
A survey by HomeGain found that spending $400 to $500 on fresh landscaping can add almost $2,000 to the price of the house.
What’s the condition? Conversely, not making repairs can cut the price of the house. The issue can be partially addressed just through eyeballing. Sellers should look for cracks, damaged paint and so on, trying to imagine the impression that buyers will have.
Sellers should also commission a home inspection, so they have their own view of the state of their home, before the buyers’ inspector begins aggressively looking for problems. Sellers who have their own report are better able to push back both about the extent of any issues and about the likely cost of fixing them.
Even if buyers aren’t turned off entirely by what they see as disrepair, they typically ask for $2–$3 off the price for every $1 of repairs that they perceive are needed, so it’s crucial for sellers to know that, say, the roof needs to be replaced. That way, the sellers can spend the $5,000 themselves rather than face a buyer demanding $15,000 off the price of the house.
Finding the right assistance. There are loads of services that help with staging, repairs, and so on—so many, that clients are often confused about which to use. Realtors often provide their expertise here and refer clients to businesses. That approach works great for many, but some want assurance. That’s relatively easy to provide these days, based on a little checking on search engines. Clients should also be encouraged to post queries on their Facebook pages, asking friends both to suggest businesses to use and businesses to avoid.
Dan Steward is president of Pillar To Post Home Inspections.