Buyers want maximum appeal, but not always #732

#732 in a series of true experiences in real estate

On a number of occasions we’ve urged would-be sellers to clean and fix and polish their houses, make them spare and clean and appealing.

This is because many buyers want to buy something with maximum appeal. They are willing to pay more for a house that charms them, one that they can move into without further ado and so, in many cases, the seller comes out ahead after fixing.

The buyers we are talking about here are abundant. Clean, delightful houses are bustling with serious buyers now. Very often these days, three, or six, or even fifteen, or more, of those lookers write offers in an attempt to buy these houses. Prices are driven up; sellers and agents are amazed and impressed.

Houses that show well, particularly those that are professionally staged, capture people, cause them to imagine living real life in what is actually a stage set. Plump couches, spanking clean and white; multilayered beds; finest-look bath tile and wood floors; a blowzy bouquet (but nothing else) on a long, sleek counter.

All of these are inviting, particularly because so much is missing. There is no TV in sight, no toaster or crumbs, no stacks of anything. There isn’t much furniture either.

I get sucked in all the time. I look at these houses and embrace them. I want where I live to look like them, which it doesn’t. If I had nothing but money, I’d buy one of the fantasy houses and move in. When it got tatty, I’d do it again.

But not all buyers are the same. We’ve had buyers who told us that staged houses put them off.  “Too done,” said one buyer. “I guess that’s the kind of house everyone wants,” another commented, “but it isn’t for me.”

I think these buyers don’t trust these houses to be true; they see the fantasy and it makes them uncomfortable. Now isn’t that interesting?

One young woman client said about several houses she’s seen, “I’d like to have had this one before they did anything.” This happened enough that we finally caught on: We rejected houses we might have told her about because they looked too good. Instead we concentrated on needy houses which she finds more to her liking.

There are also people who go out of their way to find and buy major fixers. We’ve certainly pointed out to these people on occasion that it doesn’t always make economic sense to buy them. By the time the roof and foundation are fixed, plus the electrical and the kitchen and so forth, the buyer might better have paid more for something in better shape to begin with. But logic doesn’t necessarily mitigate passion.

Are you thinking you might save yourself a lot of trouble and sell your house just as it is? Does this idea hold great appeal? I have to tell you that while it might work, it might not. It really is surprising how much more money you can probably get if, for example, your house is in good shape, is painted well and is very clean.

Unless you happen to have a severely distressed property, one that cosmetics will not help much, you are probably going to sell for a higher price by appealing to the largest group of buyers out there: the seekers of clean and pretty.

But there are circumstances, and maybe these are yours, where selling as is – broken, ailing, full and all – will be to your advantage.

Ask a good agent to look at your house. You will know who the good agent is because he or she will take the time to give thoughtful consideration to your individual situation. The agent will ask about your abilities, resources and needs, will look carefully at the house and its problems and make recommendations as well as guesstimates of sale prices.

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