I have a secret. When I’m not writing blogs and speaking gibberish to my sister, I’m actually a respected Real Estate professional. That being said, please bear with with as I flex my brain muscle and give you the scoop, as any good sister would, to help you buy or sell the perfect house.
What if every home on the market smelled of lavender and lemon verbena, had a deliciously crisp, white, picket fence, and was in such pristine condition that even an inspector might take a minute or two to remark on what a good decision you have made in your purchase. I’ve seen it happen. A lot of buyers are looking for a turnkey home; a home that is fully updated and move-in ready.
Home ownership is never perfect, but we all do our best to create sacred spaces for our families that feel as close to ideal comfort as they possibly can. I’ll call my sister sometimes and cry into my cup of tea because the back fence of my property is falling. She, in turn, comforts me in complete misery over a harvest gold linoleum floor and why it even came into existence in the first place.
Being a homeowner can be frustrating and expensive, but being educated on what you are doing and knowing a few tricks along the way can make a huge difference in whether you are replacing a broken brick or an entire foundation. The price point of those sorts of repairs could really break somebody on a budget. Don’t be fooled by the home improvement shows. Wall-to-wall shiplap and fully renovated kitchens and bathrooms may not be within the budget of an Artisan Acorn Carver. A turnkey home may be just what they need.
Let’s say, for instance, the Artisan Acorn Carver wants to spend his time carving acorns, not worrying about a slow water leak out to the street that the utility company refuses to cover even though the previous owner stated they thought they would. While it provides the perfect opportunity to grow some water friendly foliage, he may want to consider looking for a turnkey home instead. Maybe this acorn artisan is exhausted after a long day of carving and would like to put his feet up and smell the clean air that comes from a house that has been fully updated and treated kindly. Yup, he is probably a turnkey buyer. Perhaps this artisan can even sacrifice 300 extra square feet and pay that higher price per square foot in order to walk into something that was crafted and cared for rather than abused and requiring rescue.
What I’m saying is that if you want to buy a turnkey home, don’t expect your agent to work a miracle, expect to make a few concessions, and usually those are in the price.
On the seller’s side, let’s be clear. A good seller deserves top dollar for top effort, and a buyer should be able to see value in paying a bit more for darned near perfection. While we all want a deal, maintaining a healthy balance in the market provides stability, and as my Grandpa always said, “You get what you pay for.”
I see subtle clues in listings that speak to me. My years in the industry have given me some obscure insight that I want to share with you as you begin your search for a home that is well cared for or your quest to make the most money on your investment when you sell. While they may seem insignificant, I assure you, they serve a purpose in the psychology of the sale.
- Flowers. (my favorite suggestion!) Charming pots and window boxes full of pretty flowers in the spring and summer or tiny evergreens in the winter. A simple bouquet from the grocery store is a great addition to a table or bathroom, but it is not adequate when creating a feeling of true attention. I’m talking about plantings that have taken a moment to grow and be nurtured by somebody who cares.
- Paint. When you look at the photos of the house, do you notice a tiny bit of exterior paint chipping here and there? Have the homeowners grown tired and refused to update the electric blue bathroom? A little paint usually equates to a much bigger issue. If they can’t take an afternoon to paint or hire a painter to update a bathroom, they are not likely taking the time to update fixtures, carpeting, and the whole host of other aesthetics that are about to just fall into your lap. Lets not waste our time.
- .Smell. Okay, I know what you are saying, “Robin, I can’t smell a photo.” Social media is a wonderful thing. I follow all kinds of real estate blogs as well as funny real estate photo sites. You wouldn’t believe how many agents say, “I can smell this picture.” Here are some subtle clues. Carpet in the bathroom, a giant dog crate with six bowls scattered around the kitchen, sticky looking floors, very old decor, dirty rooms, stained carpet, and the list goes on. Buyers need to look for these tip-offs and clues, and sellers, please make your pictures smell good. I want to see sparkling floors, vacuum marks, shiny trim and counters, fresh paint, and I want to be able to see myself living in this home without questioning why I suddenly have a cat named Sprinkles who is canoodling with our new dog, Slobber Face McGee.
- Sidewalks and driveways. Do you want to know if a home is pristine in its care? Look at the sidewalks and driveways. People with attention to detail are usually really good about power washing and repair. If a sidewalk is graying and old, that doesn’t mean it’s in disrepair, but if you are serious about finding a pristine home, it’s one of the details that will sing praises of the homeowners. If I’m looking for a turnkey home, I’m also likely looking for a seller that has an attention to detail beyond the norm and creates a clear cut picture of pride of ownership.
- Finally, my last and most important tip is to get an inspection. If you are a turnkey seller who expects to get the very highest price for your home, get an inspection! Then, if you find out it needs some improvements, you have time to move the heavens and earth to make those repairs. When you are already on the market, have received an offer, and your buyer has an inspection, you will have a limited amount of time to get those repairs done. With that limited time, comes limited ability to shop around for your best deal. Not spending the money on inspection may cost you thousands in contractor fees. Pay up now so that when your inspector says your have mildew on your rafters, you will have time to bring in a fully-qualified and bonded remediation company that charges three times less than the other guy. (Seriously, this happened to my own grandmother!) Don’t be victim to your own desire to save money. This could be one of the best investments you make, and it speaks volumes of the integrity of a seller. On a side note, keep that inspection handy along with the receipts for repair. Documentation goes a long way.
So, as you read our blog and dream and laugh with us, I wanted to share some sisterly words of wisdom should you ever buy or sell a home. What else are sisters for? We aren’t just tea and cookies, we have business brains, too! Don’t worry, as an honorary sister or brother who actually made it through this post, if I ever see you outside of the blogosphere, I promise to refer to you as some sort of silly, made up name, and maybe even pull your hair or pat your head before I buy you a coffee.