So you’re ready to sell your house. You know the drill. Do a little clean-up, hire an agent and put it on the market. Simple, right?
Not so fast. Industry experts are telling us that home buyer demographics are changing faster than at anytime since the rise of the baby boomer generation. So if you want to sell your home quickly and get the best dollar for it, you need to understand the new Millennial buyer.
WHO ARE TODAY’S HOME BUYERS?
According to the US census, the five-county, Southern California area population is changing rapidly with Millennials now being the largest population group of 6.3 million (in case you’re wondering, there are 5 million Boomers and another 4.7 million Gen X-ers).
This means more home buyers will be Millenials for quite a while — which is why it’s important to understand them. These buyers were born in the 1980’s. They have no memory of phone books or life without cell phones. They never recorded a cassette tape. They view “traditional” architecture as “old fashioned” and look for more modern, clean lines, like they’re seeing in public places.
THE NITTY-GRITTY OF MILLENNIAL TASTE
Preparing your home for sale means looking at it from the perspective of your prospective buyers. Millennials are generally all about “new” – new homes, new styles, new technology. Bearing in mind that buyers from all generations are happy with homes that look bright and new, that’s the best place to start when preparing your home for sale.Remember, this isn’t about you — it’s about them — so whatever made you feel cozy and happy in your nest is no longer relevant. Toss out anything frilly, from draperies to tablecloths. Millennials are living in apartments, and frequenting hotels, stores and restaurants that have adopted refined minimalist design sensibilities. That’s naturally spreading into their preferences for home design, too.
Your home should look current and new, or like a fabulously well maintained older home that could easily be updated to look however a buyer wishes. Less is more. Clean uncluttered lines and wide open layouts are desired. Outdoor living spaces, no matter how small, will add tremendous interest. Hard organic flooring materials are best. If you have to work with carpeting make sure it’s clean and neutral.
PRIORITIZATION AND PLANNING
Prioritize what to update before selling. Recent surveys suggest that a new front door, garage door and windows bring the highest return on investment, followed closely by minor kitchen updates. This means refacing existing cabinets, adding fresh hardware or updating to a suite of new Energy Star stainless steel appliances will give you outsized upside.
Granite and marble countertops are tried and true, while concrete and Quartz are newer surface options popping up in homes everywhere. Replacing fluorescent light fixtures in kitchens with Low E spot lights or more decorative drop lights is also a quick way to modernize your look.
Oddly bathroom remodels don’t seem to pay for themselves. So save your money and simply touch up the paint.
Of course, professional deep cleaning and fresh paint throughout a home is always a good idea.“Greige”or a blend of taupe and grey paint is the hottest new wall color. Shades of grey, accented with white are extremely popular interior colors, while bright jewel tones, like Coral and Turquoise, on front doors is perfectly on trend now. Also, prepare to get on board with Eco-Friendly paints — buyers will love it.
HOW TO REACH BUYERS WITH YOUR NEWLY PREPARED HOME
The new digitally-oriented buyer (which isn’t just Millennials these days) has access to a vast array of information and data at their fingertips. You need to be sure your home is one buyers will see first, on any device. If you don’t have compelling, high quality photos for buyers to peruse, you’ll lose market share. The presentation of your home must easily translate on all portable devices as well as on a big TV screen. (You’d be amazed at how many Realtors do not invest in professional photos!)
And, because Millennials live in a world of instant results, once they’ve decided they want to buy a home, they’ll want to begin the process immediately. If your home is not available when they’re ready to see it, you might miss out. He who shows first, shows best.
This is a very real impediment to many would-be sales. Good listing agents are very busy people. Unless they have a large team (or don’t have many clients), it’s unreasonable to expect them to be available at a moment’s notice to show your home. Once today’s buyer has targeted your home, however, they’ll want to see it immediately — and repeatedly. They’ll want to visit your home at least two or three times before writing an offer. Gone are the days of one and done, so you need a plan to accommodate them.
In this fast-paced market, you need a safe, always-available solution to showing your home. An electronic, programmable lockbox — a far cry from the old combination versions of the past — is a very smart tool that will help you get your home sold more quickly.
Any actively licensed agent in good standing can open these modern key safes. Additionally, alerts can be programmed so sellers and their agents know exactly which agent is showing the home, when they arrived and when they left. A two step verification can also be programmed, controlling who has access and when they have access. Using the modern, electronic lockbox will facilitate more showings, expose your home to more potential buyers and lead to a faster sale. If your agent is suggesting that you don’t need one, you should understand why.
MAKE A STRATEGIC PLAN
Selling a home in this shifting market is not difficult, but it does demand that you craft a strategy and execute a plan. Using the guidance above, you should start by conducting an honest assessment of your home’s marketability. You should also consider location, curb appeal, floor plan and finishes. A good real estate agent can be a tremendous help during this process.
With that assessment in hand, make a plan based on potential impact and your budget. Often minor, inexpensive tweaks can result in massive transformations. Just make sure to watch your budget judiciously as buyers will have done their homework and won’t be fooled into paying significantly more for your home than for a comparable home.
Whatever you do, don’t think that you can just put your home on the market and hope for the best. In this fast-moving, competitive home market — being driven by a new kind of home buyer — advantage will go to those home sellers who have a plan. When you’re ready to sell, I’ll be ready to help.