Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What a Difference a Door Makes

Welcome to your new home.. That is what a new door says to buyers. Front doors, garage doors, bedroom doors etc - are among of the most cost efficient changes you can make to entice buyers, but which doors are worth the cost to change?

According to NAR's 2009 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report  small-scale exterior projects had the best return on investment for home sellers, according to a NAR survey competed by  REALTORS®.    A new steel reinforced front door returned 128% of the cost in increased home price.  Garage doors, new locks and handles also showed positive returns.   But the real reason to pay attention to your doors is because they set the first impression for buyers and can make or break a sale.

If windows have been referred to as the "eyes" of a room, then doors are the mouths, speaking volumes about the rooms they complement - according to Dena Amoruso in this article in the Owners.com sellers library

Take the entry door, for example. How much of an instant impression does a beautiful front door make on you? Windows, cut glass, carved oak, arched, or decorated with brass accents? While waiting for this door to open, it's an eye-catching item to study, from a visitor's point of view. Simple front doors can be replaced by fancier ones to exude your own sense of style. Even a modest home can seem palatial with a beautiful front door as a greeting.

Your bedroom can feel more private with a exterior door to the backyard allowing buyers to envision a quiet sitting area or a spa.   This small change allows buyers to envision what "improvements" they would add to make the home their own.

Interior doors can also make a big impact.  Start with simple changes like upgraded hardware or polished door knobs.  French doors as an entry into a dining room are a classic design that still makes a room feel special and can enliven a space.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guerilla Marketing for FSBOs

December is the time to plan your 2010 campaign to market your home using standout ideas and placements.

With so much inventory on the market standing out is more important than ever.

Selling a home by owner is 90% marketing and 10% real estate.  Good guerrilla tactics can help you beat the competition - but like any good marketing campaign a little planning pays off.  So take the next couple weeks this holiday season in between family and food to create your own campaign to find the most buyers.

1.  Know your market:
Who is your home right for?  Is it a starter home for a young couple, a retirement option for empty nesters or a  great option for a growing family?   Think about the likely buyers and rewrite your listing copy with them in mind.  No home is right for everyone and the more you can let your target audience know why this house fits them the better.

2.  Headlines count: 
Don't bore potential buyers. You have just 5 words to catch people's attention.  Now that you can picture your possible buyers, write a headline that helps your house stand out:
  • 3 Bedrooms near the Park
  • Family home in great neighborhood
  • Starter home with great kitchen
3.  Print some nice brochures.
Get your one page brochures ready to place around town - but also think about non traditional places to put them like nearby apartment complexes.  Renters in your neighborhood are a great pool of possible buyers who have reasons to stay in the area and may now be ready to buy.

4.  Reel in the Realtors.
You may not want to hire an agent yourself but Realtors represent a lot of buyers.  Create a nice brochure just for them.  Pattern it off the ones you find handed out at Tuesday showings - the traditional day Realtors connect with each other to show new listings.   Consider making your home just a bit more attractive by offering the 3.5% to a Realtor who brings you a buyer.  You'll stand out from the rest of the 3% offers and you'll still save big by not hiring a traditional seller's agent

5.  Get your photo seen.
The first photo is your most important one.  Make sure it is a great image of your home - try shooting it from ground level to help it stand out.  Then plan out a campaign to make sure your listing shows up everywhere you can.   Post it every week on Craigslist.  If your house is empty consider placing it in the rental section to generate more interest, post it with a lease to buy option.  The point is you can get more exposure for your home than any agent, because you have more to gain.  Take advantage of all the channels that they would ignore to bring in buyers.

Planning pays off.  Use this time to get prepared and you'll hit the ground running when the selling season comes around.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good photos vs. Bad photos

Photos equal online curb appeal.   Compare these two homes based on photo quality.  Which would you visit?

Both of these homes were selected from the same city, are offered for the same price and have roughly the same square footage.

Home #1:

Home #2:

What more can we say?   Pictures are what attract views, and views attract buyers.  If you asked us to explain the differences between these two homes online appeal, the basics are clear:

Good lighting is important.  Avoid taking shots when facing into the sun or you risk getting blurred, hazy images.  For indoor photos, have someone hold up some lights behind you to brighten up the room.

Clutter is a turn off.  It takes a few minutes to clean up a room and put away personal items and clutter.  This will show up in the photos dramatically.  At the very least empty the sink of your dirty dishes!

Find the right angle for each room.  Take a few photos from different angles and pick the one that shows off the room to the best advantage.  Try both a kneeling view and one standing on a chair or ladder to see which gives the best feeling for space.

December is a great time to prepare for the new year.  Spruce your listing up with the gift of new photos, you might get a nice surprise with new inquiries and new interest come January.