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A home is so much more than a piece of property or architecture. It’s more than its sum of designs and details, features, and facilities. It’s an environment that welcomes and nourishes, and that creates the feeling of comfort, fulfillment, and joy that are crucial to our well-being.
Yet too often, buyers become fixated on small flaws and fail to appreciate the home as a whole; and because there’s no such thing as a flawless listing, this tendency has the potential to dash dreams and derail deals.
In my local luxury market of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, there are a number of tactics I employ to help prospective buyers see beyond a home’s limitations and envision the lifestyle that the property can provide for them. The top three factors I would encourage all agents to pay attention to are: the value of a renovation, the power of proper pricing, and the benefit of helping buyers view the home, not as it currently is, but as it could be.
Concentrate on what can be changed
The biggest barriers for your buyers are the aspects they can’t control. If the property is far from schools, shopping, or recreation—or if it’s right next to a busy road—this can be a huge obstacle. But you can help them overcome it by focusing on the factors that they can control.
For example, if the kitchen is dated, it can easily be transformed; old appliances can be swapped out for new ones, dark wood cabinetry can be painted a neutral hue, different countertops and backsplashes can be brought in. Explain to your buyers how simple and cost-effective these fixes can be so small problems don’t become huge deal breakers.
Educate yourself on the technical details of the renovation, such as building codes, construction materials, architectural plans, zoning ordinances, and town permits, so you can provide tangible advice for your buyers. Can a certain wall be taken down? Can the bathroom be moved to the other side of the hallway, and how expensive would it be? These are the types of questions you should be ready to answer.
Establish strong relationships with local contractors, builders, and architects so you can not only advise your buyers about a home’s potential but provide the resources necessary to realize it.
Find a price your client is willing to pay
If your clients find small faults with a property that would otherwise be an ideal fit for them, then a disproportionately high price will likely prove to be a dealbreaker. This is a common problem that buyers and their agents face.
Often, it’s due to a misconception among many sellers that by listing their homes at a high price, they’ll be able to bargain with buyers and settle on a price that’s still well above market value. More often than not, this plan backfires. If the price seems exorbitant, even the smallest flaws will prevent high-end buyers from making an offer.
Consider speaking with the listing agent about bringing down a high price in order to inspire stronger competition and better offers. Homes that are priced at or below estimated market value tend to sell faster, and fewer days on the market often corresponds to a higher sell price. I’ve seen deals close within a matter of hours for above asking, simply because the listing created a strategic sense of urgency.
The buyer needs to see it to believe it
Simply describing renovations to buyers may not be sufficient; sometimes, it’s better to show them. There are several virtual tools to help clients to visualize changes. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Box Brownie and roOomy are both user-friendly virtual staging solutions
- HB COLOR is an app that lets you apply different paint options in photos
- Homespot HQ is a free tool that helps clients plan remodels and repairs
- magicplan is a software that can create interactive floorplans on-demand
There are other useful and impactful ways to help buyers understand a home’s potential. I have a Dropbox folder full of “Before/After” pictures that have proven invaluable. By including a few relevant images in my correspondence with my buyers, I can help them overcome their initial reservations. Pinterest boards are also a fun and impactful way to help buyers imagine how they could improve their future property.
Luxury real estate buyers are extremely discerning, so it’s only natural they’ll notice the imperfections in the properties you show them. Rather than being discouraged, engage them in a more productive conversation so they can manage their expectations, compete in today’s high velocity market, and realize that they have the vision and resources to create their own dream home.
With her exceptional knowledge of the housing market, Laura has achieved outstanding success at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. Whether her clients are first-time home buyers or established property owners, Laura is equally protective of their best interests. Her vision allows her to perceptively assess a property’s assets and limitations and identify value for her buying clients. Laura has extensive experience with builders, architects, and contractors as well as an in-depth understanding of technical details, including architectural plans, building materials, zoning ordinances, town permits, and codes for renovations and new construction.