Wondering why your home has yet to sell? As a seller, I know you probably love your home, or at the least had some great memories there. So you may think all you have to do is pop a lawn sign in your yard, have your REALTOR make some posts online, and stand back for the throng of hysterical buyers willing to offer you above top dollar.
If you have tried that with no success you may have overlooked the viewpoint of homebuyers. Would-be buyers are typically traipsing through several homes that may have all of the latest gizmos, gadgets, and decorum. Thus, your home has to be able to stand out in potential purchasers' minds in such a sea of varied, desirable real estate. Foremost, this means it is time to acknowledge that, when selling your home, your home is in a competition - a beauty pageant shall we say.
Your home is in a competition - a beauty pageant
Whether you have watched or participated in a beauty pageant, you likely know that the contestants usually do not simply show up from a hard day at work or a grueling workout session at the gym and slap on some lipstick and perfume. Yet, many times home sellers plug-in a Glade air freshener and use a Mr. Clean magic eraser to remove a couple of scuff marks on the walls of the home they have lived hard in for 10 years that has war-scars from pets, children, and roommates that age it far beyond its years. These sellers did not realize their home was in a beauty pageant but you can and should the next time you sell a home.
To sell you home beauty-pageant style, take an honest assessment of how your home scores in the following 5 categories:
Evening Wear Competition
The evening wear competition is when the pageant contestants don their fanciest duds. The contestants understand that first impressions may often be the lasting impression so they get dolled up beyond their everyday look. Many times, the pageant participants get prepared in ways that they have never done so before to look their best.
Likewise, for a home to sell, this may mean the landscaping is pristine, the siding has been powerwashed, the door paint refreshed, the windows cleaned or replaced, the hardware and fixtures upgraded, the mailbox refinished, and the outdoor lights are on, to name a few improvements that are warranted for such a special occasion as inviting over prospective home buyers.
As a real estate agent, I have taken my buyer clients to see homes for sale that charmed them online yet before I could park the car, they shouted, "Keep driving!" This sudden dissipation of interest happened because the home in some way was an eye-sore. The common real estate term for this conundrum is it lacked curb appeal.
Have you listed your home for sale but the grass is overgrown, the shutters are falling off, the trash is overflowing at the curb, the siding is chipped and stained, or in desperate need of some other exterior fix? I get it: it is hard to stop your life when you are selling a home so you may not readily have the time to do even the very basics (such as at least keeping the grass cut) to make the home a stunner. But ensuring that the home's exterior is appealing to win the beauty pageant is a must - this is home selling 101. If you are short on time, hire a landscaping professional that comes highly recommended to help you win a 10 in this segment.
During the swimsuit competition, it is time to get up close and personal. In today's world, we can hide a lot under alluring ballgowns with the help of Spanx (thankfully). But the swimsuit competition makes the pageant contenders bare all.
The next phase of real estate is similar to the swimsuit competition were potential home buyers get up close and personal by walking through the home and then doing a home inspection. I have seen too often home sellers spend a great deal of effort on the exterior to then forget about the interior. Homebuyers deduct points for things you may see as trivial such as odors (yes, your pets do leave odors that need to be handled!), clutter, disorganization, and down-right filth. This usually is because not every homebuyer has the time to envision your home the way it could be; therefore, help them and make it reach its potential.
But beyond the basic cosmetic issues, be sure to not skip over the more weightier matters like roof leaks, plumbing problems, faulty wiring, hvac hassles, persistent pests (from squirrels in the attic to termites in the wall, these need to be removed before a buyer steps foot in the home), and the like.
To look gorgeous in the evening wear and swimsuit competition but to later trip on stage or have a wardrobe malfunction will cost the pageant candidate points and possibly even the win. Instead of feeling dejected and resigning to defeat, contenders can hold their heads high and highlight what they excel best in during the talent competition.
Similarly, the real estate talent competition is your opportunity to share the bells and whistles in your home and neighborhood to help minimize any shortcomings. Okay, so maybe you have not had time to get the exterior immaculate or you had to rush out the house this morning and you left behind dirty dishes and unmentionables. The talent segment may be where you can earn some bonus points with potential homebuyers that help them to ignore any missteps.
Maybe you have upgraded many of your electronics and you have a SMART home, talk about it. Or, perhaps you are the only home for sale in a subdivision that has some spectacular new amenities or community developments coming in the near future, make a big deal out of this. Are you in an award-winning school district, make sure your REALTOR promotes this in your home's marketing. Likely your home has talent so work closely with your REALTOR on this point to ensure your home's endowments are showcased properly.
Throughout the competition, the scores are tallied and participants are cut. After all is said and done, the final on-stage question is the tie-breaker between usually the last 3 contestants. This is the point that can enhance many of the other attributes or distract from them.
For home sellers, your on-stage question is how you answer regarding the sales price of the home. If you are working with a reputable, prepared, and professional REALTOR (what I like to call an Agent+), you will have listed your home at a strong market price and will effectively negotiate when any prospective home buyers that submit an offer to purchase your home. Every market is different and every home seller has a unique situation, so your specific answer to this question will vary but with the help of an Agent+, you will shine.
The Congeniality Award
In beauty pageants, there may be a second winner, the winner of the congeniality award. This person may not have scored high in any of the competition segments. Yet, this person likely has a personality and outlook that inspires and attracts admiration. This person is rightfully also an award winner of the pageant.
If your home lacks an advantage in any of these competitive areas (whether because you lack time, funds, or both), then do not forget you may very well sell by virtue of your home's congeniality! Your home may exude a fun and inviting personality through your existing decorations, paint choices, and unique, eclectic furniture. This may not be right for the majority of homebuyers but with patience you may find a buyer willing to purchase your home for its flair.
How does your home score? I would love to hear your home selling triumphs in the comments below. Happy selling!
Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer, and coach. If you are an agent or broker and want to up your real estate game, learn more about Lee's trainings and one-on-one coachings (http://www.