When most sellers list their home for sale the first thing they think about is how much will I get and that is usually followed by how soon will I get the money. It's certainly understandable that those two concerns are, most often, top of mind. After all, you're likely selling your home to buy another one or invest the money in something else.
But, if as a seller, you can get into the buyer's mindset, the sale of your home can come faster and for more money.
Understanding the way buyers think involves seeing things not from your perspective but from your potential buyer's mindset. It can sound easy but actually it's often harder to do than most sellers think. The psychology of buying is driven by emotional experiences, money, and timing. With that in mind, sellers can help create optimal circumstances that literally help walk the buyer through the process and completion of the sale of your home.
It starts with a feeling. When you meet someone for the first time, you form a first impression based on a feeling. That's exactly what happens when buyers set foot into your home. Work with an experienced agent to learn exactly what kind of impression your home is giving off. If it's a small home, make sure it's not overfilled and cluttered.
"Pick up all the loose clutter that's floating around. Throw out old magazines. People like to see things that are streamlined or clean or fresh looking. There's nothing worse than walking into a place and seeing a stack of magazines all over the place or an unmade bed," says Benny Landman, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Del Mar.
Go the extra step and take care of items that might have been overlooked for quite some time. "Steam clean the carpets, the upholstery, the furniture, if that's what's needed. Have the windows cleaned, light fixtures cleaned. Make it feel clean when you walk in," says Landman.
Go back to basics. You may love your turquoise carpet but do you really think buyers will? Getting inside the buyers mind will help you answer these questions. You can also pick up home dÃ©cor magazines and see what appeals to the masses. You don't have to change everything in your home, but going back to basics in a few areas will help buyers see how your home can become their home.
"As soon as buyers see a really loud red, orange or lemon-green color they automatically think about re-doing," says Landman. That, of course, means the buyers are already beginning to calculate the amount of money they need to take off of the sale price in order to get the home in the condition they would like it.
If instead you stick with neutral colors such as painting the walls off-white, light beige or Navajo white, you have a better chance in preserving the sale price.
Repair anything that looks torn, worn or broken If you walked into a retail store and saw a garment that you liked but it was torn or missing buttons, chances are you'd search for another one or ask for a discount if that were the only one of its kind.
That's what buyers will do with your home when they spot torn screens, garage doors that don't open, or broken light fixtures that are hanging out of the wall. Buyers, if at first they don't get completely turned off and walk away from the sale, will first begin to think that there is more damage to the home than what they're able to see and then they start to calculate the cost of repairing those damages. But Landman says buyers often exaggerate the amount of money needed to fix the repairs.
"I know in today's market people are looking desperately to find out what's wrong with a home so that they can lower the price," says Landman.
"I just did a deal last week in Solana Beach and the house was in really bad repair. It had been lived in by the same person for 30-years without anything done. The buyers came back toward the end of the transaction and said they wanted $100,000 off because they didn't know what was going on behind the walls and they could see there was mold, cracked slab, and deferred maintenance," explains Landman.
The buyers were afraid that when they opened up the walls there would be even more repairs needed. That's how they justified their significant deduction in the price.
In this case, Landman, says "The sellers gave it to them but that's a real exception to the rule." He adds, however, that if sellers don't take the time to fix up their homes before putting them on the market, then sellers can expect to see offers anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 lower than the asking price just because of cosmetic issues.
"In the buyers' minds, they come up with some kind of incredible price to fix repairs. In their mind, they go way overboard and eventually it affects the bottom line price for the seller," says Landman.
Tell your neighbors when you list your home for sale "The other thing that most people don't do, and it's a big one, is notify the neighbors that the home is going to be put on the market. There's a high percentage of friends, relatives, and neighbors who buy in the same area," explains Landman.
Don't miss an opportunity to get the word out about your home being listed for sale. It only makes sense to let your neighbors know. Landman says by doing this your neighbors can sometimes become great facilitators and supporters of the sale.
"The other thing is that if you notify the neighbors, if they do run into people who are thinking about buying your home, they're going to say you're a nice person because you're not trying to hide anything. You're trying to get a sale but you're also letting the neighbors know that you are for sale," says Landman.
Stage your home before you put it on the market "If it's vacant stage it. If you're going to do this, you might as well do 100 percent instead of 90 percent," says Landman.
Landman says furnish the entire home even down to placing flowers in rooms to create a warm and cozy environment.
Most people are visual buyers. If the home doesn't look clean, spotless, and repaired then the buyer thinks what's behind the walls, how much more money do I have to put into this home," says Landman.
Remember understanding the psychology of the buyer's mindset can help you sell faster and for the price you really want.
Published: June 13, 2008