5 Minute Read
Over the last 30 years, the way buyers shop for new homes has changed drastically. From the advent of online listings to the influence of home-improvement television shows, there’s plenty a home seller has to know about catching and keeping a buyer’s interest these days.
Go Where the Buyers Are and Give Them What They Want
Changes in technology have played the largest role in revolutionizing the way buyers find their new homes. Interested homebuyers used to browse newspaper ads and real estate magazines or go to open houses. But once online listing sites began to gain popularity, there was no turning back.
“Open houses were important when I started in real estate,” Dawn Kirkland, an agent in Birmingham, AL, told us. “But they’re no longer useful. Why go out and look when you can stay home in your robe and fuzzy slippers and see everything you want to see?”
Today, buyers of all ages begin their home searches online. The two largest age groups of homebuyers, Generations X and Y, even skip the computer and search using their mobile devices. That’s how many young homebuyers today actually find the homes they ultimately buy.
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Overall, 92% of homebuyers searched online for a new home, so if you want buyers to even see your home, you must have an online listing. But, according to real estate agent Bob Wolf, if you want buyers to be interested in your home, you’ve got to outshine the competition. “The information, pictures and virtual tours included in sellers’ listings have got to be stellar,” he said.
A recent National Association of Realtors study of homebuyers backs him up. Homebuyers ranked photos, detailed information and virtual video tours as the top three most useful features of online listings.
Looking Past the Online Listing
Hooking the seller with a fabulous listing is just the beginning, especially with today’s buyer.
“A seller has six seconds to make an impression on a buyer,” Dawn said. The first three seconds are spent at the curb of course, so a neat yard and welcoming entry are as important as they have always been. But the sale really hinges on the next three seconds.
“You have to knock their socks off as they walk in,” Dawn explained. “Because they will either walk through the rest of your home with anticipation, or they’ll walk through with a critical eye,”
“Get a stager to help with furniture arrangement,” Leigh Gillig, a real estate agent in Nashville for 30 years, added. “This was never done years ago. Buyers now expect the home to look like a magazine.”
We’re Not Done Yet
Even making sure your home looks just right often isn’t enough to seal the deal, Dawn cautioned.
Years ago, buyers were more willing to consider purchasing a fixer-upper. “But there’s been a radical change in family dynamics,” she explained. “Today there are more dual-income and single-parent homes than ever before. The children are constantly involved in activities. Buyers today have no time and little inclination to take on a fixer-upper.”
That means buyers have to put in more work to present their home in its best light—ready to move in with no looming repair issues.
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“If it needs doing, do it,” Dawn advised. “If you need a new roof, go ahead and get a new roof. Buyers always think home improvements cost more than they actually do, so if they see that your home needs a new roof, it could scare them off.”
Sometimes There’s No Substitute for Personal Advice
Attracting and impressing buyers takes a combination of high-tech marketing skills and old-fashioned hard work. When it comes to pricing your home, however, sellers are better off consulting a professional rather than relying on online pricing estimates.
Part of your agent’s job is to determine the right price for your home so you won’t waste time with a price that’s too high or lose money with one that’s too low. Agents have their own sources of information they use to calculate prices, and those aren’t always available to online pricing websites.
“Sellers may have an unrealistic expectation based on past markets, the media and information overload from the internet,” Bob explained. “That’s why it's so important that sellers get all the facts about what’s happening in their market from an agent who’s done their homework.”
A good agent won’t stop there. They’ll have a marketing plan that makes use of online and offline methods of getting your listing in front of buyers, and they’ll give you honest suggestions about how to get your home in show-ready condition.
The right agent will also help you negotiate purchase contracts and help you address any issues that crop up between your acceptance of an offer and closing.
If you’re already working with an agent like that, congratulations! You’ve found one in a million. If you need help finding a high-octane, high-energy agent, you can see who Dave recommends in your area today.