April 24, 2019
It’s time for the spring market—traditionally the top selling season for real estate, and while many of our new real estate school graduates will soon be excitedly greeting guests at their open houses, it is also the time when more people choose to put their homes up for sale.
More potential buyers . . . more competition for those buyers.
One reason real estate students rank Garden State Real Estate Academy as South Jersey’s top-rated real estate school is that we teach them practical advice on how to jump-start their real estate careers. We offer hundreds of real-world tips learned from our instructors who have decades of experience. Giving our students advice on how to help their future sellers sell their home is part of that training. Readers of this blog are welcome to forward it to your sellers (or potential sellers).
You Never get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression.
Princeton University psychologists Alexander Todorov and Janine Willis led a study that showed first impressions are made in as little as a tenth of a second! Those of us who have been selling real estate for years can recall many clients whom we drove to an appointment to see a home they had wanted to see, only to have the buyer tell us to “drive away” as soon as we pulled up in front of the home.
Just as with people we meet, first impressions of homes matter.
When it comes to a home buyer’s first impression, it is typically made in the online search. Ninety-two percent of buyers now begin their search online. But many of those photographs—the ones that lead to a buyer calling to say, “I want to see that one,” have been taken in the best circumstance—and often even enhanced through Photoshop. The real test of first impressions comes when they pull up in front of the home.
Here are 10 inexpensive ways you can advise your seller to improve their home’s curb appeal:
1: What about that mailbox?
As the buyer pulls up to the curb, is their first impression of a mailbox that is rusty or faded? Even if you don’t think the mailbox needs replacing, for under $15 you an buy a mailbox cover with charming graphics of flowers, animals, or other features that will make the whole mailbox look fresh and new.
2: Spruce up the Lawn
The front lawn may be the first thing the potential buyer sees. So how do you make it look lush and green during times of the year when everything looks bleak or brown?
Yes, grass paint. For under $100 EnviroColor at Lowes (depending on the size of the lawn), you can spray on a non-toxic paint that instantly turns a water-starved brown lawn, or a spotty-looking winter lawn, into one with a lush green golf-course look. Grass paint does not wash off with rain, will last for several weeks, and is completely safe for animals or children to walk and play on.
3: Repaint the Front Door
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a new front door, simply paint it. Front doors should stand out and make a statement. Try a bold color such as red, or if you are in a beach area, maybe a turquoise, a yellow, or a tropical color. The entire job can be done in a couple of hours and will give your entire front a bright new look.
4: Get a new doormat
Get rid of that dirty, dingy old doormat and replace it with one that instills a message of welcome and hospitality even before the buyer has entered your home. If you cannot find one that depicts a graceful greeting in a local store, check out online merchants such as Frontgate and Wayfair. They have great selections.
5: Speaking of the front door . . .
Dress up the door with an attractive wreath. Check out sites such as Amazon and you will find an amazing selection of stunningly attractive wreaths that suit every season. For anything from $25 to $50, you can turn a blah entryway into one that invokes a charming and positive image of your home even before the buyer has opened the front door.
6: Power wash the exterior
What does the roof look like? Few things make a poorer initial impression than a roof that is streaked with dark stains from mildew or tree sap, or a front walk, patio, or deck that is similarly encrusted with dirt. Invest a couple of hundred dollars before you list the house and have the pathways, siding, roof and deck power washed.
7: Install Window Boxes
Almost any home will look stunning with the addition of a couple of window boxes on the front of the house. You can pick them up at any box store, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. Then enjoy that great feeling of working the earth with your hands as you plant some colorful annuals that will deliver an instant splash of cheerful color that greets every visitor to your home.
8: Add Some Potted Plants
People like symmetry, and this is easily achieved by buying a couple of graceful planters to the left and right of the entryway to the front door. Be sure to use nice clean containers and use plants that will continue producing masses of colorful blooms all season long. And keep the containers free of weeds and the blooms deadheaded.
9: Add Some Patio Furniture
If you have a front porch, don’t leave it as a boring open space. Add a couple of accent pieces, such as a rocking chair, a porch swing, or a large wicker basket or decorative planter box with colorful flowers. Sometimes, a visit to an antique store can help you find a real conversation piece—say, a milk churn, or an old wheelbarrow—which you could then use as a patio décor piece, filled with flowering plants. If you already have patio furniture, be sure to replace the dingy old cushions with those that look bright and cheerful.
10: Clean the gutters
The buyer pulls up to your home, turns to her agent and says, “Wow! I like it.” She sees a beautiful front green yard, colorful flower boxes adorning the windows, and a freshly recoated driveway.As the buyer and her Realtor® approach the front door, she notices how pretty the containers are on each side of the porch and the beautifully painted door. Then she looks up and sees the gutters. Weeds are growing six inches high; debris from trees is evident across the front of the home; water has evidently overflowed for so long that brown stains show halfway down the siding. It happens often. Don’t let something so easy to fix be a reason why potential buyers want to turn around and leave.
David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 30 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 450 homes in South Jersey. He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 14 books. David can be reached at David@GSREacademy.com