However, if the price seems right for the size of the property and the neighborhood — and buyers do look at comparables — then the buyer will be correct in expecting the condition and amenities to be as close to perfect as possible.
As an agent, I always caution my sellers that disappointing a potential buyer on any level will be a disaster from which the buyer cannot recover. If the property does not live up to the expectation of the buyer, then the buyer will leave and probably not return.
The old adage, “you only get one chance to make a first impression” has never been truer than right now in real estate. All research and shopping for a new home commences with the internet where buyers see beautifully lit and staged images that they don’t expect to have been digitally enhanced.
The photos, address, neighborhood and price all establish an expectation in the buyers’ minds, which must be fulfilled and reinforced upon the buyer’s arrival at the actual site. A shabby paint job, cracked window, greasy stove or scratched floor will deflate and disappoint a buyer. In most extreme cases, any of these flaws could motivate them to turn around and leave the address without a complete viewing.
It’s better to work with your seller to improve the property and enhance its best features than to gamble with disappointing a buyer’s expectations. My experience has proven that it is better to price a property lower if a seller will not make repairs and improvements than to risk losing a buyer entirely.
Once your seller decides to renovate, the next big question arises: Which renovation projects will yield the best resale value? When advising my sellers which improvements will bring the highest return, I emphasize that their efforts — and dollars — are best spent increasing the feeling of space. Also, everything in the home, without exception, must be new or in good working condition.
1. Renovate to grow the space
Emphasize to your sellers that any architectural changes that increase the feeling of space in a home, whether an open floor plan, well planned and executed storage or improved lighting will be beneficial. Warburg Broker Claire Groome states that quality renovations are key — as opposed to handyman repairs. Jeremy A. Kamm, another broker from Warburg, stresses that the best renovations are those that apply to a wide range of buyers.
2. Paint the entire home the same neutral shade
Sellers should know that painting the entire home the same light neutral color, or slight variations of the same color, will create a feeling of continuity and less visual choppiness from one room or floor to the next.
3. Make the whole home function as new
Every appliance, door hinge, and doorknob, window, and fixture must function.
If an appliance doesn’t work, encourage your seller to replace it. Some appliance suppliers will offer package deals including stove, microwave, dishwasher and fridge, all delivered and installed the same day with the removal of existing appliances.
4. Focus on the details
Educate your sellers that a home buyer is typically not interested in window coverings, unless they are custom and neutral and will enhance their lifestyle, but buyers are definitely interested in the windows behind the coverings and how they function and if they are clean.
No evidence of wear, cracks, cloudiness or leaks can be in evidence. Of course, window screens must be functioning and not torn.
5. Floors are the foundation
Your seller may not agree, but patiently explain that buyers may admire the sellers’ oriental carpet or art deco Chinese rug, but unless it is included with the sale, the floor underneath is of far more interest. Beautifully refinished wood floors — or even a new floor — are great sales tool.