In front of a for-sale home may be one of the most random, wackiest, and truest reads into a person’s desires.
In 30 seconds, and often less, a buyer computes random associations and impressions on the way to their destination. Their mind is tracking through any number of data points:
“How is the traffic behind the house? It’s a Sunday afternoon, what’s it like at rush hour?”
“Do I want to turn in off of Research, or is Summerset better?”
“Are those Air Force gliders? No… they’re trainers. Why are they practicing stalls? Will they do that above my house?”
“Geesh, the HOA is weak with that guy over there – waaaaaait, there isn’t an HOA? “
“Why would I tune my car radio to listen to… get out, that guy over there does the TSO exploding Christmas lights thing? THAT’S across the street?”
These are the thoughts of a buyer engaging the clutch before running away. These are not the sorts of impressions that create lasting attachments, or set a buyer down the path towards a contemplated series of events that result in a home closing.
Some of these things can be changed. Others cannot. One frustrated, $600K+ buyer was viewing a home in Skyway Heights and when I couldn’t land on why this house wasn’t perfect, finally threw his hands up saying “Ben, how do I tell my friends how to get here? I come off 24, I go down 21st, somewhere that becomes Cresta, I don’t now where, I turn on Arcturus, or is it Artemis? I can’t remember, than do I go left or do I go right on Orion, because I can go either, then a left, then a right, then two rights…” That would be the far more complicated “status of life” concern. Here’s a buyer looking at a lovely home on a lovely lot in lovely condition at an accurate price with the views he desired… and the home had lost his interest before he ever arrived because it was so removed from the flow of what he considered normal.
A home seller can only appeal to so many home buyers. But a home seller cannot hang their hat on “it just takes one” when they have clogged gutters. The same can be said for a garage door needing paint. A trip-hazard concrete walkway that needs to be mudjacked doesn’t help at all. Nor do burned out bulbs in an ugly brass coachlight. Or house numbers that broadcast “(insert builder name), circa 1995”. Yeah, concrete moves, bulbs burn out, leafs accumulate and there’s only so much you can do if your home was built in 1995; but there are also plenty of things – little things – that can be done to appeal to a buyer’s desire for a hopeful destination in their short-term future.
Sellers have the obligation to enter the imagination-space of buyers.
As a Seller, you have mere moments to woo them or lose them. Features don’t sell houses; benefits do. In other words, the objective and measurable is important; but it’s the subjective that hooks a buyer and makes them think they’ve found love. Good kitchens and good views definitely help sell houses, but it’s the curb appeal that is the first thing a buyer sees. It’s the front of the house that their mom and/or dad pulls up to and quietly judges whether their son or daughter has “made it” in life. It’s the surrounding neighborhood can unfold like a romantic autumn canvas with deer prancing through yards, or a hyper-sense of conformity where every home looks the same and the car better park in the driveway to distinguish which one is yours. This is powerful stuff, and it’s not a joke.
A seller has one chance to keep that buyer on the rails. It’s called the curb appeal. Make the most of it.