Do this if you never want your house to sell

I showed a pretty nice house last night that is going to be very hard for the listing agent to sell.

It was one of the lower prices for a huge house on a gorgeous lot in a very desirable neighborhood.

You’d think that would be enough in any market, yet alone one starved for listings.

This is what it was like seeing the house.  You walk up to a freshly painted facade with recently mowed grass and fresh mulch.  You are feeling good about it.  You go inside.  The foyer is nice.  It is a little strange that you can’t see any rooms from the foyer, but not the end of the world.

You go towards the left and see the dining room.  Wall paper from the 90s.  You go into the kitchen next.  Red wall paper from the 90s.  You go into a really nice sunroom.  What do you see?  Murals painted on the walls.  You go back through all those rooms and then you enter the great room, which was super nice.  Then you see a bedroom.  Ok.  Then you see a bathroom that not only has wall paper, but wall paper boarders on the ceilings and top of the walls, as if they were making crown molding.  The shower curtain is heavy, like the dress Scarlett made in Gone with the Wind.  Then you enter the living room which is set up as an office and has way too much furniture in it.

Heading upstairs, you notice that all the bedrooms are painted a different color.  The basement is pretty normal.

The sellers furniture was nice, but they probably bought all of it when the house was new in the early 90s.  I am not bashing anybody’s stuff because my own house is probably the most boringly decorated house in the whole world, but I am not trying to sell it.  I would need to stage my own house if I were selling because my stuff would make my house feel as dated as this one did.  All of my furniture is stuff my parents gave me and that my wife and I put together from a box.  I’m just not into decorating……maybe that is why I can always see the house past the decor.

It sort of made me sad because I could picture the house vacant and with a coat of fresh paint.  It was nice.  Sure, the house would have still been a little outdated since it was about 25 years old, but it wasn’t terrible at all and typical for the neighborhood.

There was a stack of realtor cards on the table in the foyer.  That means all those people in addition to my buyers said “No” to this house.

What sellers never realize is that a buyer will walk through their entire house in about 20 minutes.  Having too much furniture in a room may suit the sellers needs, but it makes the rooms feel smaller to the buyer.  It is also hard to see the room past the furniture.  I always say that when you live in a house, the room exists to show off your decor.  When you are selling, the decor should show off the room.  Also, colors make a big difference.  A seller may be in one room of their house for a while and then go to another.  The buyer, when walking through the entire house, gets sensory overload if every room is drastically different.  A uniform color can also help when the house has a choppy floor plan too.

I am sure all the feedback on this listing has been that it needs too much work.  If this were my house, I would remove as much furniture as I could stand.  I would put a fresh coat of neutral paint everywhere.  People ask me all the time what is the biggest bang for the buck.  I always say fresh paint.  Nothing makes as big of an impact as fresh paint.

With all the wall paper gone, most of the dated furniture out, and a coat of fresh paint, the house would feel so much better.  The 25 year old finishes were neutral enough that buyers would find them acceptable in the absence of the 25 year old furniture and wall paper.

When I go to sell my current house, I am taking my own advice since my place is very similar to this one.

Best way to get top dollar for your house

I don’t really know how to say this without upsetting some of my realtor friends, but most of the current marketing trends are just hype.

Many agents are doing weekday open houses.  Like a Tuesday or Thursday from 5-7.  Often the house sells before the open house……and if the listing had hit the market that day, that is the exact time buyers would be scheduling their showing anyway.

Many agents are doing these “Coming Soon” listings.  After making everybody wait to see it, the house sells the first day on the market for full price.  Imagine that.  Just like every other new listing that is priced appropriately.

Some say that these are the best ways to expose the listing to a market that is already hungry for new listings, and at a time when there is a shortage of houses for sale.

Here is what I say is the absolute positively BEST way to know you got top dollar:

You put the house on the market late on a Friday.  Why?  So the listing gets fed to zillow and all the other real estate sites in enough time to get on every buyer’s radar but is too late to be shown that night.  Why again?  Because more people are available to look at a house on the weekend than they are during the week.  Why do you want that?  Because you want every buyer to not only see your house, but to also see every other buyer flocking to your house.  Nothing motivates a buyer more than seeing people coming and going during their viewing.

You show the house all weekend.

And this is where the rubber meets the road.  You tell all the agents that the seller is not making a decision until Sunday evening and to submit their client’s highest and best offer.  That gives time for the house to be seen by every interested buyer.  More interested buyers means more offers.  More offers means a better price and/or terms.

 

 

The hardest houses to sell

I’ve been at this for a long time.  I’ve sold a lot of houses.  In a good market.  In a bad market.  In Lexington.  Outside of Lexington.  In neighborhoods.  In the country.

Want to know the houses that are the absolute hardest to sell?

The ones that are partially updated.

Why?

You would think that a buyer would view a house that has some parts really nice to be a big bonus.  They don’t.  The nice part of the house just makes the rest of the house look worse to a buyer.  Too much contrast between the nice and the average bits of the house.

Who comes to see these houses?

  1.  The buyer who sees the nice new stuff in the pictures.  They get excited but almost always say that the rest of the house needs too much work.
  2. The buyer who see the part of the house that needs updated.  They get excited because they want to renovate the rest of the house, but not give any credit for the work that has been done……meaning they want it for free.
  3.  All the other buyers who come mainly because it meets some or all of their search criteria.  They don’t buy it because they say it needs too much work.

What you have to do with a house like this is try to make the non-updated bits look as good as possible.  You want to minimize that contrast.  You don’t want the buyer to walk in one room and be unhappy, then walk in the next and fall in love, then walk in the next and be unhappy.  The goal is to make them at least feel neutral, then love, then neutral as they walk through the house.  Less contrast is good.

You also have to really emphasis the other features of the house, hoping that the right buyer will see all the other pluses and feel like they can live with the house like it is or take on the updating.  If the house is the best bargain in the neighborhood, walking distance to trendy places, has a park nearby, a desirable school district, is the most square footage for the money…..whatever the house excels at, and all houses have something unique, that is what you want to emphasize.  Anybody looking for one or more of those unique features is usually the one who buys the house.  Why?  Because they don’t have as many choices

Driving this car makes me a better listing agent

Here is my latest ride.  It might look familiar to you because I’m standing beside a similar car in the picture on my blog, but they only look alike.  This one has a different engine, transmission and suspension.

My youngest son found it.  It was going to be a project both my boys could work on and then they sell for a little profit.  That plan changed when I drove this broken down 17-year-old car home from western Tennessee last fall.  I knew I wanted to keep it and I knew that I wanted to rescue it from becoming a parts car.  So I bought it from my boys.

I really liked the lighter blue one I use to have, but I LOVE this one.

Why?

M Roadster

Because the way it feels while driving it.

When people ask me why I like it so much, I don’t quote the weight of the car, I say it is very agile.  I don’t mention the steering ratio, I say the steering feels lightening quick.  I don’t tell people about the high flow throttle body and cold air intake, I say the engine sound is intoxicating.

I try to do the same thing when I list a house.

A home is much more than some cold list of features.

When I describe a house, I want to convey the vibe of the place.  I want people to get a feeling about what the house is like as they read my description and see my pictures.

How do I know buyers think like I do about my car?  Because I have never heard anybody describe a house they love by quoting the square footage, bathroom count or other features.  They always tell me how all those things make them feel.

Oh, and like a lot of real estate pictures, my car looks better online that it does in person.

Why I think 3-D tours are a bad idea

3dmovies

 

Yep.  I really said that.  Those Google earth type tours where you click arrows to navigate around the entire house are a bad idea.

I know they are cool.  On trend, just like Pokemon Go was last summer.  Soon, they will be as flat as the last sip of a soft drink.

Why do I think they are a bad idea?  It all boils down to the point of showing a listing online.  The goal is NOT to sell the house.  The goal of marketing a listing is to sell a SHOWING.

Pause and let that sink in.

I think we can all agree that buyers are looking at listings right now on their phone.  What are they doing?  They are deciding if they like the house enough to come see it in person.  You know what happens when they see something they don’t like?  They don’t come see it in person….I guess these 3-D tours are good for a buyer.  Saves them a lot of time when they decide not to come see a house because they saw all of it and didn’t like something.  If you are the seller, does this make you feel good?  Wouldn’t you rather have a buyer come see your house in person before ruling it out based on an unflattering angle they saw on their phone?

The cold, hard truth is that these tours are the latest thing in a long line of products designed to be sold to realtors with the promise that it will help them get listings.  In the 12 years I have been a realtor, I have seen several trends come and go:  The number on the sign you call for a recorded message about the house, the Virtual Tours (which were the same pictures, just zooming in and out with music) and QR codes.  All of those were gimmicky, but did not potentially prevent a buyer from coming to see your house.

And you know what, they aren’t even really 3-D.