I often hear sellers say that they didn’t replace the flooring because they don’t know what buyers will like. They don’t want to install carpet, and then someone doesn’t like the color or replaces soon after with hardwood. Although I understand the hesitancy to spend the money, it demonstrates how most people don’t understand the buying process.
Sellers focus on the potential of their home and why it’s worth the money, but buyers focus on the present. They see with more than their eyes. They use their sense of smell, listen to the neighborhood, and look at the home with a critical eye. For most, it’s easier to focus on what’s wrong with the home, and that limits the potential they might see.
The bottom line is that it’s an emotional purchase. They are either feeling the home, or they are not. Immediately upon pulling up to the home, they assess its curb appeal. Upon entry, the odors make an impact. Then, if there are obvious updates or improvements needed, the buyers are noting them one by one. At some point, many begin to hit their limit and tell themselves, “This home needs too much work,” and they move on to the next house. They rarely come back!
Sellers have to take into consideration that today’s buyer is different than in years past. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, there were a number of homeowners that had not experienced such a dramatic downturn in the economy. They hadn’t been saving much and, when they either needed or simply wanted something, credit was an easy solution to satisfying their desires immediately by paying over time. As a result, many people had significant debt and minimal savings. Another factor was that, in many cases, homeowners who made a home purchase in the past five years or so had paid top dollar due to the steady demand driving up home prices. They weren’t prepared for the series of unfortunate events that unfolded soon after.
Fast forward about five years and a number of things have changed people’s mindset. The Millennials graduated college but couldn’t find jobs, so they moved in with their parents. The 30-40-year-olds had ridden out the mortgage crisis, and some lost their homes, which also meant their credit tanked. For those that hadn’t over-extended themselves financially, they rode out the storm, started saving, and become increasingly conservative. On the other end of the spectrum, the Baby Boomers started downsizing if they could afford to sell and many began thinking about retirement communities.
So, when the economy started to improve in 2014, the middle-aged homeowners didn’t want to make a move at all. They were scared and unsure of the future. This left a gap in listings. Normally, this age group would sell their modest family home and move up to a larger place. Meanwhile, Millenials finally got their first job and desperately wanted to move out of the parent’s home, but had minimal savings. That means they had no money to improve a home after the purchase. Time is also a factor because they are nervous about getting their career started and lack experience doing any sort of home improvement. Lastly, the Baby Boomers that hadn’t already downsized are now looking to simplify life. They’ve already done a fixer upper in the past and don’t want to do it again.
The end result is that today’s buyer doesn’t want to take on a project. They don’t have the money or time to devote to a remodel. Most are using up their savings just to purchase the home and don’t have the money to improve it afterward. Others lost their equity in the recession and were lucky to break even on the sale of their current home. Move-In Ready is their preference.
In addition to addressing defects prior to marketing a home, sellers need to consider presentation. Staging a home to sell, means presenting it in the very best way possible. By updating the color schemes, it can make a home feel newer. Arranging the furniture to accommodate the flow of people moving through the home during showings makes a home feel larger. As well as adding personal touches can make a home feel warmer. Essentially, it involves changing a home from living condition to showing condition.
My team includes a Professional Stager that understands what buyers want and how they view a home emotionally. Sometimes, only a consultation is required to share tips and provide guidance on what they need to do prior to entering the market. Other times, the home just needs some added décor to create a homey feel. Still other times, the home needs to have furniture removed and the rooms de-cluttered.
We work with an investor that flips homes, who tried staging his homes with full living room, dining room, and master bedroom sets. He even goes as far as adding blinds, curtains, and artwork. Since he started staging his homes, they’ve been selling in weeks or even days. In fact, one home that he had on the market for months was removed and staged. It sold within 2 weeks after we put it back on the market. So it works!
Whether you hire a professional stager or utilize staging tips from watching those home improvement shows, sellers need to spend money to make money. Of course, you’ll want to get a professional opinion on what improvements will provide the best return on investment, but selling “as is” will surely cost you money in the end.