By Judy Boyle
Don’t let the snow on the ground fool you. The highly anticipated spring market is plowing its way in now, irrespective of its name. In January alone, mortgage lenders reported issuing record numbers of preapproval letters. Today’s savvy buyers are aware that it is likely to be a sellers’ market due to continued low inventory. But these savvy buyers know what they want, and they refuse to overpay for a property that isn’t a good value. The burden, therefore, will be on the sellers to make sure their homes are properly prepared to market. The process of getting to that point really is like rocket science and best tackled with the assistance of a skilled marketing agent.
Notice I didn’t say ‘listing’ agent. It is one thing for an agent to put up a sign and enter a property into the Multiple Listing Service. It is quite another thing when an agent takes the time to equip a seller with information on market trends and statistics, considers the demographic of the most likely buyer pool, guides the seller to ensure the property presents as a good value, and then packages it all up for presentation. This is what a licensee that regards him or herself as a marketing agent does.
Marketing is defined by Dictionary.com as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” Wikipedia adds that “marketing is recognized as a science because it involves psychology, sociology, mathematics, economics, anthropology and neuroscience.”
The whole home marketing process can take several weeks, if not months, so if you are hoping to capitalize on this spring market, the process must start now.
If you are somewhere in between and if time and budget constraints prohibit major updates and thorough preparation, the minimum you can do is price your home accordingly and implement the psychological strategy of marketing to ensure the property appeals to all five senses:
- Make the home aesthetically pleasing to the eye with the four P’s.
- Purge – We all know the rule: If you haven’t worn it or used it in six months, get rid of it. Consider tax-deductible donations to local charities such as Abbey’s Place or Fresh Start Furniture Bank.
- Pack – Pack now or pack later; you still need to pack. Absolutely everything that you do not use on a daily basis should go away. Portable storage companies such as PODS are great.
- Paint – Walk around your house as if you have never seen it before (or ask your agent or an honest friend to do so). If your existing palette is neutral and in otherwise good condition, all you need to do is touch up chipping trim paint. And while you’re at it, re-grout tilework and caulk around tubs and showers. To buyers, nothing screams neglect more than the things they can see with the naked eye.
- Primp – While this word is typically reserved for humans, why not primp your home by polishing wood floors, washing the windows and, yes, light bulbs. Painstakingly clean from the ceilings (i.e. cob webs) down to the heat registers. Scour bathroom surfaces and make sure the appliances sparkle. Splurge on new pillows, designer bedding, towels and shower curtains that will give your house a facelift and photograph well.
- Appeal to the sense of smell. If you have any pets, smoke tobacco products in the house or cook with pungent spices, you absolutely must listen to your agent or honest friend and neutralize any offensive odors that they detect. Harsh “plug-ins” are not the answer but strategically-placed diffusers with essential oils can help.
- Buyers will touch stair railings so make sure they are not loose. Make sure all light switches have a purpose to eliminate the need to draw a “faulty wiring” conclusion.
- Soft music and/or a gurgling water feature during showings will appeal to the sense of hearing.
- Prospective buyers will most certainly taste the home-baked cookies (serving double duty as they smell great, too). Or place a decorative bowl full of hard candies on the counter to stimulate the senses and provide an energy boost for your buyers before they WRITE THE OFFER.