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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

7 Things Buyers Love + Sellers Fail to Mention

In real estate, we often use the term “under market” to describe a home that is priced or purchased for less than it’s fair market value. But I sometimes see an unrelated real estate phenomenon I think Webster would rank as a second definition for “undermarketing”: to list a home and fail to mention features the homes have, which buyers would have been attracted to, had they seen them in the home’s listing description, flyer or online marketing.

For example, my first home was a very modest rancher, lots of fixing needed, located in a quiet part of town that I’d never heard of.  At my agent’s insistence, I finally went to see it. Only then did I realize that the property just so happened to be situated with panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. Bizarrely enough, this massive selling point had not received even a passing mention in the listing!

If your home has commercial-grade European appliances, sits on acres of land, or is in the most prestigious neighborhood in town, it’s pretty easy to know what to lead with in your marketing. But if you have a normal house in a normal neighborhood, there could very well be things you take for granted which a first-time or relocating buyer might be magnetically drawn to – if you mention it in the listing. 

1.  Storage. 
When aiming to avoid undermarketing, keep this in mind: showcasing your home in its best light is not just about what you love about it. You might already have outgrown the place, and started to see its flaws more than its finer points: that’s why you’re moving. But the goal of good marketing is to highlight the things that will allow your home to shine in the eyes of your target buyers and against the competition.

So, it’s important to know what buyers care about and how your home offers a more comfortable lifestyle than the competition. First-time buyers, for example, are not simply comparing your home to other homes, they are also comparing it to the lifestyle of being a renter and to every bad rental property that inspired them to move forward with becoming a homeowner.  One very common beef of renters is that rental homes lack storage, which leads to belonging overflow and a cluttered life.  The vision of having a place for storing everything is a big motivator for many first-time home buyers.  So, if your home has been tricked out with extra closets, pantries or other built-in storage amenities that you plan to leave, make sure your agent boasts about that in your home’s marketing materials.

2.  Organizing systems.  In the same vein, if you have made the investment in upgrading your home with customized or built-in closet, kitchen or garage organizer systems, desks or bookshelves make sure buyers see and know this from your home’s online listing.  From the first-timer craving to have a clutter-free existence to buyers who are moving up into a family home and want each family member’s space to have at least the possibility of order, built-in organizers can represent value and appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers.

3.  Proximity. You might be thinking the right buyers for your home will be finding it online precisely because of where it’s located, so it’s silly to call out the property’s proximity to amenities and attractions. Not so fast.  First, some buyers simply might not know to search for your zip code, or might not be aware that your hidden gem of a neighborhood also happens to be tucked within a half mile of a subway station, entrances to 3 freeways and 2 regional parks.  Second, buyers’ proximity wishes might be different than the location requirements of their online search.  They might be looking at all homes in town in their price range, but the fact that yours is walking distance to a major employer or university could push yours to the top of the list. 

Finally, relocating buyers might not have the core knowledge of the area that would allow them to connect the dots about the property based on location basics you are assuming everyone in the market for a home like yours will know.  Don’t assume: if your home is particularly well-located vis-a-vis major employers, universities, recreational amenities or walkable shopping and dining districts, talk with your agent about showcasing this in your home’s marketing.

4.  Senior-friendly features.  Boomers are not necessarily looking for homes with built-in disability features, but they are often looking for homes they could live in for the rest of their lives, “aging in-place,” without necessarily being located in senior-only communities. That means homes with level-in entrances (no stairs to the front door), single story layouts and low-maintenance landscaping have a massive new audience attracted to these features which would otherwise not warrant a mention in a home’s marketing, especially if homes near yours tend to have loads of stairs or other features that are difficult for people to navigate as they age.

Similarly, the movement toward aging-in-place has caused many more families to move aging relatives in with them, versus moving them out to retirement homes.  These extended families often are looking for homes with a very well-appointed “mother-in-law” or “outlaw” units or a second master suite located on the home’s ground floor.  If your home has multiple bedrooms with bathrooms en suite or completely independent living quarters, marketing these features to extended families is a must.

5.  Energy efficiencies. If your home runs entirely off-the-grid or on graywater, chances are good you’ll be mentioning that.  But even buyers who don’t identify as hunting for a “green” home can be attracted to the budget-friendliness of energy-efficient features of the less extreme sort.  So, if your home is a pretty no-frills property but has a tankless water heater, dual-paned windows and new insulation, mention it!  If you’ve managed to get your energy bills down way below what’s normal in your area, this could be a selling point you don’t want to overlook–your agent can help you navigate how to broadcast this message to buyers.

6.  “Light” green lifestyle features.  That said, if you have configured your home to allow inhabitants to live a greener life, beyond just the energy bills, these might warrant a mention in your marketing.  You might think things like your little organic kitchen garden, backyard compost bin or that $50 recycling center you installed are so low in cash value they don’t rate a line in your listing materials. But there are loads of buyers out there who are attracted to these sorts of features already being in place in a home, so calling them out (especially if you’re in a market with tons of competition) can call your home to their attention. 

7.  Natural, chemical-free and hypoallergenic home maintenance. In a similar vein, if you have a hypoallergenic HVAC system or have only used non-chemical cleaning products for the last few years, you might want to call these sorts of things out, as well.  Marketers say today’s consumers are careful about not just what they put into their bodies, but also what they put on and around their bodies. Your home and the cleaning and maintenance products you’ve used may implicate both “on” and “around,” so if you’ve taken care to create a home that works well for people with physical or philosophical sensitivities to common household chemicals, make sure light-green buyers know it!

ALL: What secret treasures have you found in listings lately?
P.S. - You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook!


By Paige Wajsman,  Tue Aug 13 2013, 16:13
What a great article and tips, Tara! Thank you!
By Christopher Crosby,  Tue Aug 13 2013, 17:24
This is great. Things that are so often overlooked. Thanks for the list!
By Coach Jackson,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 09:32
Great article!. Thank you.
By Leslie Newman,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 09:59
Love this article! These are current on-trend items that could reach out to more buyers!
By Steven.podd,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 10:12
Don't thinks many homes have these features
By Janet Chai,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 10:12
Good idea.
By Mboss47,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 10:44
Great selling points. Trying to sell home in a rural area, pointing out the accessible amenities would make it appear to not be as remote.
By Debby Bullock-Benfield,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 10:53
Thanks for the info! Your article is great!!
By Ratnakar L. Mitra,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 10:58
Tara, you right great practical articles. I am always impressed how relevant your articles are. Thank you.
By Joya Soell,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 11:04
All very important factors to buyers, most definitely!
By Barbara Dow,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 11:08
This article is GREAT! Points that are overlooked.
By Laurie Malonson,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 11:12
Ditto what Ratnakar has said. I always know that if Tara Nicholle is the author it's worth reading.
By Abforevercreep,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 11:27
Thank you I'm 38 with three children but I'm also a wheelchair bound DAV I've been looking for 6 mo now, I'm a cash buyer and can't find anything that would even remotely accommodate me until I could make it wheelchair accessible!!! Would be wonderful if I could even real estate agents Dont understand what to look for!
By Chuck Webb, CRB, CRS,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 12:17
So often discounted or ignored by sellers or agents.. Nudge the buyers toward their interests and they'll focus more directly on the property.. Great post, Tara!
By Nicolas Mornard,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 12:24
NICE !! it seems logical but very interesting to keep that in mind !
By Sally Wildasinn,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 12:30
"Aging In-Place" this is a great term to use. Thank you for the great ideas !
By Greg Petit,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 13:11
I did something unusual in my marketing strategy when selling my home and it sold to the first buyer who came to see it. The home I wanted to sell was my second home, fully outfitted as a turnkey property so that when I arrived on weekends, I could just show up and live comfortably. Beautifully furnished and outfitted with stylish details giving it a young-at-heart, urban cottage feel, I had an epiphany of sorts. Most houses for sale in my area sat empty for at least a year or more. With prices so low and so much competition, the area was attractive to young buyers, often times purchasing their first single family home. But when they bought they had to struggle to furnish the home. I could have emptied my place and potentially have watched my house sit for months with little to distinguish it from the others. Instead, I reasoned that perhaps young people buying their first home would be attracted to a package deal of a turnkey property fully outfitted and ready to enjoy. I didn't charge any extra for the furnishings, nor did I make any money by pre-selling the furniture and other details. But I sold my house right away to a buyer exactly fitting that profile. This was much better than making a few dollars from selling my belongings while continuing to pay a mortgage for a property sitting empty over a long period of time.
By Eastcoastlady61,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 13:15
For right now I am just looking I like small houses and ranch type.
By Peggys,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 13:52
Greg, I loved your idea. I am looking at selling in a couple of years and retiring to Florida from the Northeast. I have been seriously wondering about offering the furnishing with the house. When I moved here from a rowhouse, I made do with what I had for a short time and then ended up buying many items. Some of what I have now would be do-able in the Florida climate but some things wouldn't. And to top it off, would I want to pay all the costs of moving the furnishings only to find out that they just really don't "fit in" the new home style/decor. I know that you don't really get much for sale of used furniture (unless it it a special antique or something) so a yard/moving sale may not really net you much. What have others experienced on this?
By Marianne Leopold,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 14:23
Great article. Specially the storage is the main thing.
By Nate Volk,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 14:24
Be careful with the "senior" thing. You cannot legally include verbiage that might cause a certain class of buyers (like single people, or young families) to feel like they are excluded or preferred against. In fact, the NAR mandates that you cannot use phrases that provide a preference of one group or another or sends signals about a community's make up. (http://nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/News%20Release%20MVFHC%20Connor%20Group%20Final%20Draft.pdf)
By John Warren,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 14:55
6 and 7 are questionable
By Pam Wojcik,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 14:59
Tara: You are so correct about "aging in place". My husband and I have changed floor plans in the last 3 (ranch) homes we have purchased. We widened doorways to 36" and installed pocket doors in small bathrooms; we installed the microwave drawer in a base cabinet which is very convenient from any level, not to mention safer! (Flames and steam from the cooktop below). I find it rather unnerving that builders and designers still gravitate to microwaves above cooktops/ovens. And who thinks they vent well, or at all ? It's wiser to get a real vent hood that actually removes odors and smells.
We opened up master baths by replacing linen closets with chest of drawers which are (re)movable later as needed; we installed "towel bars" that are ADA compliant secured (inside the shower, next to the toilet, and near the sink. ) All vanities have legs with open space below, for wheelchair/feet. Our faucets have ONE handle only. A teak flip up seat in the shower gives room for mobility, besides holding a 350 lb person.
When people visit our home, they see a very open and clean contemporary style (nothing that hints of a disability). Our last home sold for top dollar to a couple whose grown daughter had MS. Our current home is being sold to a stroke victim.
Both sales were easy, with each sale they came twice in the same day, paid full price without negotiations, and we are still welcome to visit.
I wish more people would understand the value of 'universal access', which is the non-commercial term for Americans with Disabilities Act (law). One does not have to be "old" to break a leg, or come down with a serious illness. Oh, and did I mention, that as a former licensed realtor, I priced the homes for what they were worth in the market, including the (smart) upgrades. This is a large untapped market that someone should pay attention to.
Thank you for mentioning this in your article Tara.
By Patricia,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 15:34
Agree with John that 6 and 7 are questionable. Some houses are so energy efficient that they don't "breathe". Also the most energy efficient appliances don't work The more the EPA forces impossible standards on builders and manufacturers, the worse our standard of living.
By Janet,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 15:39
Great article!
By Ann Parker,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 15:45
Pam, You must have had a lower grade of over-the-range micro. The only way to vent these is to have them vented to the outside. Carbon filters don't do anything. I wouldn't be w/o my OTRM! I sold appliances at a big box store and was completely honest w/ the buyers. Some people are too short to use then safely.
By rajeev48105,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 16:30
fruit trees in the backyard also seem to get nods of approval.
By johnsonkaren25555,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 17:55
Hi Paul Mccormick, First of all INBEDROCK.COM IS NOT FREE!!!!! $8.99 to join (do we add this to the real cost of home ownership?). I didn't know we are allowed to advertise our Business on this site. MR CEO of INBEDROCK.com. Go to Bankrate.com, free and no, I'm not the CEO.
By johnsonkaren25555,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 17:56
I just left my comment
By Bonnie Rasic,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 19:31
Brilliant! We have lived in our home...actually we're very instrumental in the original building...and have customized as we grew, had children, went through empty nesting and are now facing aging limitations.it is so intimidating to think that we are not "up to the minute" but we have much more to offer over time for a family that wants roots. Thank you for your insight!
By Bonnie Rasic,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 19:32
By urbangreenstyle,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 19:54
For those who want to know more about the aging in place movement and understand that "Liveability" is not exclusionary to any age group or ability level, you might visit a group titled "Changing Aging" on LinkedIn. It is a free professional group that crosses the boundaries between healthcare, wellness, urban planning and social needs. We also use the word "Barrier Free" which is a neutral term. A number of real estate professionals like the author of this article have realized that this is a trend that will last.
By Mashruf Kabir,  Fri Aug 16 2013, 05:20
Very great article honestly.
Really informative and very precise!

By Iris Williams,  Fri Aug 16 2013, 05:32
Tara, thanks for the great article. I have always felt that way too. By highlighing the positives of a home, you will always match it with the ideal buyer.
By Greg Ziglar,  Fri Aug 16 2013, 06:32
I bought a place sight unseen in Florida recently. The selling point was simply this: a screened-in porch with northern exposure only so that I could enjoy it year round. I couldn't fathom a sunroom in Florida, doesn't make sense to me. Now in Wisconsin, that would be a selling point.
By Thmcarrie,  Fri Aug 16 2013, 07:47
This article helps a lot. I'm a first time home seller and need all the tips I can get.
By Ronda Henry,  Fri Aug 16 2013, 12:16
Great article. I believe we often fail to see all a home has to offer. Sometimes the owners are so accustom to what they have; such as short walk to the lake; it doesn't get mentioned. Even as an agent I take things for granted that should be bragging points. Thanks again!
By Jenifer Black,  Fri Aug 16 2013, 17:00
Peggys: While selling a furnished home can help a property stand out in the market, it can also create problems with the appraisal if the buyer is getting a mortgage. Banks don't like to finance "chattel," and they may try to subtract the value of the furnishings from the appraisal. Make sure to discuss this with your Realtor - the furnishings may need to be handled outside of the purchase agreement.
By Pam Wojcik,  Sun Aug 18 2013, 17:01
Ann Parker: Well, our GEProfile was direct vented to the outside (being on the outside wall). What brand do you suggest ? We replaced our OTCM with a vented-to-the-outside hood: It had a more powerful motor and larger airway. I was concerned with the decibel, so did some research and found a great one that moved air and odors very efficiently. Looked high end also.
Some of my friends have kitchens where the OTCM is too low to the stove top (gas): their micro handle is just above the 'power burst' burner and is #1) too hot to the touch or #2) the handle comes off, not being stainless as the micro is. There are suggested distances above gas flame stoves for the over the stovetop micros. Sometimes people don't realize this. But, to each their own, and I find a micro drawer is a big hit among guests.
By Nancy Rothrock,  Sun Aug 18 2013, 19:34
In California you can mention 55+ Communities that have age qualifications.

Also, Greg, what a brilliant plan, I like the idea of leaving some furniture to stage and help a new couple. This is also great when it comes to patio furniture for first time home buyers!

Then adding an energy efficient instant water heater.

And, instead of installing the ADA compliant amenities maybe I will offer a $5,000 concession to those who need a ramp or assistance bars installed in the home.

I represented a home in a "bad' neighborhood recently and had good interest from the locals who wanted to live there because I was offering a big dog friendly property with extra motion detector outside lights, secure windows and heavy doors.
By Christy Grear,  Mon Aug 19 2013, 07:40
Mentioning a home that has never had pets is also good for families with allergic family members.
By Darla Dennis,  Mon Aug 19 2013, 10:11
Tara, thank you for your incite. And Thank you all for sharing your wisdom. Several selling points were listed here that I had never thought of putting in the marketing comments. Great job.
By Gracepiazza,  Mon Aug 19 2013, 13:47
Thanks, Tara! I like your ideas and someday I expect to use them. I posted your page on my Facebook page to spread your advice to my friends too. - Grace in Massachusetts
By zeezezeeze,  Mon Aug 19 2013, 14:36
thank you very much Tara for sending me the great information
By Paul Mccormick,  Mon Aug 19 2013, 17:59
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By theLynchGroup,  Sat Sep 7 2013, 16:02
Understanding your buyer is key~great point on emphasizing storage!
By averyschlacter32,  Mon Sep 16 2013, 07:38
Thanks for the information it will really help a lot! I've been looking for into site furnishings and this should really help me out.
By Jay Taylor,  Tue Feb 18 2014, 10:36
One more feature I can add is the quality of air. If you stay in a place where the air quality is especially good, this really needs to be brought out in the listing. There are lots of people out there, especially children who suffer from a lot of allergies and illnesses related to air pollution- so this could be just what they are looking for. Even if there is nobody who suffers from an ailment, clean and fresh air works wonders for the system. It rejuvenates you. So bear this in mind.
By Jay Taylor,  Tue Feb 18 2014, 10:36
One more feature I can add is the quality of air. If you stay in a place where the air quality is especially good, this really needs to be brought out in the listing. There are lots of people out there, especially children who suffer from a lot of allergies and illnesses related to air pollution- so this could be just what they are looking for. Even if there is nobody who suffers from an ailment, clean and fresh air works wonders for the system. It rejuvenates you. So bear this in mind.
By Mike McCann,  Thu Mar 6 2014, 08:33
Good tips! Thanks for the article, Tara.
By karablader,  Wed Jun 18 2014, 08:47
This is so true. Something my husband and I found to be huge pluses while searching for a house was lots of storage and if they had a recycling service. We love a clean look so storage was a must for all our extra junk. As for recycling, we have used skip bins in the past so we wanted to be able to continue recycling and caring for our planet.
Shelly Slader | http://www.takeawaybins.com.au
By Dennis,  Sat Jun 21 2014, 11:21
Great points. There is so much to tell about a house it is sometimes a challenge to make sure you mention all the points someone might like. We are always watching to make sure we hit the high points http://www.TeamDowney.ca

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