Anyone who has house hunted in the Internet age has at least one or two memorable examples of homes they felt were falsely advertised.
Rooms that were Photoshopped to luxurious (if deceptive) spaciousness.
Neighborhoods described as "up-and-coming" that should have been deemed "down-and-out."
Conveniently omitted factoids like the roof is caving in on one side.
These are extreme examples of the listing tomfoolery about which so many buyers complain.
But as I see it, these examples are exceptional precisely because they are exceptions to the norm. Thousands and thousands of other listings come on the market every year, making every effort to place the property in its best light while also representing it accurately.
In fact, I’ve actually noticed that much more common than the listings that contain exaggerations or flat-out falsehoods are those in which the property is undersold. These are the homes that buyers see online for a few weeks, and rule out for one reason or another, then get sweet-talked into seeing in person by their agent only to realize how completely fantastic the place is!
Here are a few of the things that buyers love, which often fail to get mentioned in listing descriptions of homes for sale:
1. Features apartments don’t have. If your home is well suited for your area’s average first-time homebuyer, you should be touting the features it has that will upgrade their lifestyle in the ways they’ve probably been dreaming about for months or years, as they geared up to buy a home.
Things like large closets, abundant additional storage spaces, garages with entries directly into the home’s living area, outdoor kitchens and "living room"-type areas should be pointed out, especially to the extent that they are unique among local homes in your general price range.
2. Features rarely co-existing in the same home, in your price range. These are what I like to call the "yes, and" features:
- a swimming pool and a large yard or garden area.
- hilltop views and walkability to shops and conveniences.
- original, vintage charm elements and cutting-edge modern amenities.
- an HOA that manages your outdoor space — and private outdoor space.
3. Features that compensate for, neutralize or offset property drawbacks. These are what I would call the "yes, but" features, as in, "Yes your property has X, Y and Z weak points, as compared with the competition, but that shouldn’t deter a smart buyer from coming to see it because of Z."
If you have only two bedrooms in a neighborhood of three-bedroom homes, your bonus room with no closet is a "yes, but" item. If your home is smaller than the neighboring listings, the unfinished basement might be a "yes, but" feature. If your home is adjacent to the neighborhood school, the fact that your lot is one-third larger than standard could be your "yes, but" item.
And this is an area where sellers can be creative, making a "yes, but" where there wouldn’t otherwise be one. For example, if your home is simply out of date, the closing cost credit you’re offering can be your "yes, but."
4. Custom, luxury features with broad appeal. Small luxuries that are built into a property tend to have much more appeal to buyers than you might think, and should be given consideration for inclusion in the listing’s admittedly limited number of character spaces.
Now, if your customizations are around your banjo workshop or your candle-making studio, the limited relevance of these features should knock them pretty low down on your prioritized list of marketing musts. But if you have customized closet and garage organizers, a built-in desk and office organizer, a kitchen recycling center, an over-the-stove-pot-filling faucet or even arguably niche items like a pet shower, you should definitely consider calling these things out and making them visible to prospective buyers online.
5. Aspirational activities made easy by this address. If people commonly seek to move to your neck of the woods to golf, ski, hunt or hike, and your home has any sort of amenity that supports this lifestyle, mention it.
If you have a dedicated mudroom for hikers or built-in gun racks in a secure rifle room, these items are worth calling out on your home’s electronic fliers, online listings and other marketing materials, as is the fact that you are very near a particularly popular golf course or trail.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson is a real estate broker, attorney and the author of two critically acclaimed books on real estate. Tara also speaks and writes on the art and science of life transformation at RETHINK7.com.
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