In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
One of the fundamental laws of marketing is to make it as easy as possible for people to do what you want them to do. For real estate agents, our goal is usually for our clients to list or buy a home. However, that rule also applies to the often-thorny effort of getting sellers to boost the curb appeal of their properties.
This is a three-step process. First, you have to develop their appreciation of “wow factors.” Second, you must persuade them that devoting time and money to creating those “wow” moments will pay off down the road. With a lot of people staying indoors, now is a great time for clients to take on home improvement projects. Third, you should make it super easy for them to do it.
1. First things first
Do a little MLS research, and send them current listings for six or seven properties that are good comps for their home. Ask them to rank the listings based on how appealing they are. Even if your sellers are not under a stay-at-home order, they should complete this task online — because that’s what their buyers will do.
This exercise alone should do the job of selling curb appeal to them. If it doesn’t — or if you want to reinforce the lesson — send them off to do drive-bys. They won’t even have to get out of their cars to see for themselves how homes with great curb appeal stand out from their neighbors.
2. Wow them with comps
Even if you’re stuck inside, virtual tours and online listings should enable you to pull comp sales for their property both with and without the wow factor. In our experience, “wow” properties sell for significantly more.
After the dollar signs get your sellers’ attention, drive the point home by comparing days on market (DOM) prior to sale. Again, most agents know this from experience — houses that wow buyers sell faster. The sold comps should prove this and convince your sellers that amping up the wow potential in their homes is well worth the time and money.
3. Make their job easy
It takes vision, time, money and elbow grease to create show-stopping curb appeal. How much varies by house. But every home requires a clean and tidy front yard, an unobstructed and well-lit walkway and entry, manicured trees and shrubs, and eye-pleasing accents to create a high-impact focal point in a distinctive frame.
To convince sellers to tackle this job, you need to offer as many resources as possible. Gathering ideas for improving curb appeal can be as easy as a stroll around the neighborhood or a scroll through websites like Better Homes and Gardens or Pinterest’s endless idea boards. A search engine inquiry yields thousands of results from pedestrian to divine.
Ideas usually aren’t the problem. Implementation is. So, now’s the time to get out your spreadsheet of designers, lawn and garden experts, arborists, carpenters, electricians, concrete guys, painters and other folks who can help make curb appeal visions come to life. Share those resources with your clients. And give the craftspeople you recommend a heads-up, so they’re prepared for the call.
Please note: Your clients will think they can save money by tackling the make-ready, to-do list on their own. Regardless of their skill set and their very best intentions, selling a property already requires so much time and energy.
Aside from simple jobs like raking the yard, they shouldn’t be taking on any DIY projects, unless they’re six months to a year away from putting their property on the market.
And, with that kind of time, they will most certainly procrastinate and wind up having to pay a premium for other people to do the work as a rush job. So, do everything you can to get the pros on the job as soon as possible.
Finally, while most exterior face-lifts may consist of little more than painting the front door and pruning the beautifully paired shrubs on each side of the charming entry porch, sellers getting a property ready for market may need funds beyond what they have readily available.
A HELOC or other short-term loan has been the answer for sellers in the past. Over the past year, however, our company and others have also started to address sellers’ frequent need for upfront cash to cover pre-sale home improvements.
While these efforts vary in their specifics, if you have such a program, letting sellers know about it at the beginning of the discussion about maximizing their property’s appeal to buyers is apt to generate more enthusiasm for this essential task.
Most sellers need help seeing their property the way prospective buyers will. Helping savvy sellers transform their properties into homesbuyers will be fighting over is what separates truly dedicated agents from the rest of the pack. So, get going!
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.
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