Wednesday, April 3, 2013 / by Ira Miskin
What do Buyers want? Many times, starting out, Buyers don’t actually know what they want. Over time, after previewing a number of homes they begin to know what they want, but it is a process that ends in a sale only when the benefits of a home stand out clearly to the Buyer – benefits, not features. Then, there is a sale.
For a home to sell quickly, for top market dollar and with the least hassle for all concerned, every aspect of the benefits of the home you are selling – as looked at from the Buyer’s perspective – needs to be considered and clearly displayed. Benefits… there’s that word again. But how do you display and sell the benefits of a home? First know the difference between the benefits of a home and the home’s features.
Features include how many bedrooms and bathrooms a home has. Maybe the home has a basement and a garage. Perhaps the home has a deck or patio. These are examples of features. Buyers certainly shop using the features of a home as their initial search criteria. A growing family may need a four bedroom home, so your three bedroom home will not suit their needs. Another family may have young children so they will want the master bedroom on the same floor as the additional bedrooms for their children. Another family may have teenagers and might prefer the master on the main level to have some separation from the noise and video games. All these are features of a home. And if the features do not match a Buyer’s needs, your home is excluded from their search. If they do, it is included.
What makes a home stand out from the crowd are the benefits of a home; these are the intangibles that compel a Buyer to want to preview your home and helps them to equate the price of your home with their sense of the home’s value. Certainly pricing your home correctly for its features and benefits is very important. Initially, a home purchase is seen as a commodity purchase, not unlike buying a car or even a suit of clothes. Price is a big initial factor. But as Buyers start to shop – previewing homes on-line before they chose a home to visit - they equate value with price. They eliminate or select homes for their search based on their perception of value. And it is the benefits of your home that gets your home selected or rejected during their initial search.
Some features cannot be changed, but they can be clearly pointed out in the “benefits rich” marketing of your home. For example, a home located on a cul-de-sac is not just the description of the location of the home. It is a reminder of the safety of the location for families with children who often play on the street and need to be kept safe from local traffic. Therefore the location description might say the home is “situated on a quiet, private cul-de-sac” to point out the benefits of the safety of this home’s location. Every home has a kitchen. But is it simply a kitchen with the dining area incorporated into the space? Or is it a “warm and friendly Country Kitchen, perfect for family gatherings.” A finished basement is an “inviting finished terrace level.” A master bathroom with a separate jetted tub and shower is a “spa-like master bath.”
Other features of a home can be changed – or at least improved and then touted in the marketing. A critically important pre-listing step is to have your home professionally inspected. Finding out and correcting both obvious and not so obvious physical defects goes a long way toward building a buyer’s confidence in the value of your home. The cost of caulking, servicing your heat and air conditioning system, perhaps updating an older hot water heater, repairing and painting exterior trim, correcting a variety of deferred maintenance issues - and providing a copy of the home inspection report with paid service receipts - is a great signal of value to Buyers who often don’t want a home where there is a lot of deferred maintenance for them to complete after the sale.
As well, neutralizing a home’s décor so Buyers can picture their furniture, artwork and family in this home - no longer your home but their home - is reflected in the photography of your home. The photography is a window into the home that is designed to make a Buyer feel comfortable and even a little impressed – by how “pretty” and “well maintained” and “open” and “bright” this home seems to be. The photography, along with the carefully crafted descriptions of your home is an essay on the tangible and intangible “benefits” of your home.
Features start a Buyer’s home search. Benefits sell your home.