The first-time home buyer is going to be extremely nervous about making what is likely going to be the most expensive purchase in their entire lives.
Plus, they’re very likely going to be “cash poor” after making their down payment and paying for their closing costs, and will not have a lot of extra money to make any cosmetic improvements or do any updating.
From the previous article you already know that your job when selling to the first-time owner is to ease their fears, to present them with an attractive home that has been updated and is ready to move in, giving them the pride of owning their own home that isn’t going to require a big outlay of cash for repairs or upgrades after closing day.
With this in mind, here are the top five new home buyer hot buttons:
Talk to anybody in the real estate business about the importance of first impressions and they will tell you that hands down, curb appeal is the number one make-it-or-break-it item that will attract first-time buyers to your house for sale.
Almost all real estate agents have had the experience of taking a qualified first-time buyer on a tour of homes for sale, pulling up to a house that makes a horrible first impression, and being told in no uncertain terms by the buyer to skip the house and move along to the next house on the list. The house could look like a million dollars inside, but that makes absolutely no difference if the prospects are repelled by the outside appearance of the house and don’t even want to get out of the car!
People that have owned a home before are more willing to overlook the outside appearance of a house because they know from experience that many cosmetic items —uncut lawn, overgrown bushes, trees in need of trimming, and so on — can easily and inexpensively be remedied. A first-time home buyer is exactly the opposite. the entire home-buying experience is new to them and they have an image in their minds of buying their perfect dream house – a dream house that has beautiful curb appeal.
A first-time home buyer is exactly the opposite. The entire home-buying experience is new to them and they have an image in their minds of buying their perfect dream house: a home that starts by having beautiful curb appeal.
If you want to attract first-time buyers to your home for sale, keeping the front of the house neat and attractive is going to be your most important job. If your front yard has a lawn, be sure to keep it watered, mowed and weed-free. If the season is right, consider planting some annual flowers to naturally brighten up the yard. If there are loose pavers in the driveway or cracks in the sidewalk leading up to your front door, get these fixed before you put your home on the market for sale.
Are there kids’ toys scattered about or is there evidence of a nocturnal visit from your neighbor’s dog? Get rid of it! Overgrown bushes, vines and shrubs, or trees in need of trimming that hide the beauty of your home? Trim them, cut them back, or if you’re unable to do it yourself hire the neighbor kid or a local landscaper to do the work for you to keep your curb appeal up.
De-Clutter and Clean
Thanks to the stunning appearance of your house from the outside and the drop-dead gorgeous landscaping, you now have the prospective first-time home buyer out of the car and into your house and you are one step closer to having them make an offer to purchase your place. But your work is not over just yet.
Just as with the outside of your home, the first-time buyer expects the inside to be clean and tidy. Buyers who have purchased a home before have different expectations and are more likely to overlook the clutter and personal items inside of your house, while the first-time buyer will not.
Now that they are inside of your house, your next step is to make it easy for them to imagine that they are already living in your home instead of you. To accomplish this, you will need to take a good, hard, objective look at each and every room of your house to make sure that it is clutter-free. If you have trouble being objective, recruit a friend whose opinion you trust and one who will not be afraid of accidentally hurting your feelings with their honest opinions!
Your goal when de-cluttering your house is to make each and every room look as large as it really is, to de-personalize each space, and to make it easy for the first-time buyer to imagine that they already own your home. The experienced buyer, in contrast, has been through this before and has more imagination.
Take each room one at a time and remove as many knickknacks, memorabilia, personal photos of family and friends, children’s toys, overgrown or unhealthy plants, ashtrays, unusual artwork, worn-out area rugs and extra furniture as you possibly can. Then get them out of sight: box them up, move them out of the house and put them into storage. If there are items that you know in your heart you are not going to use, have a garage sale before you put your home on the market.
Now that you’ve removed all of the clutter and personal items from your home, the next step is to thoroughly clean all of that new space you have created to make it as presentable as possible. If dusting and detailed cleaning simply isn’t your thing, hire a professional maid service to get the job done.
Remember, you want to make it easy for the first-time buyer to imagine that they are already living in your home, so the last thing you want is for them to spend a lot of time talking about how much the photo of your grandfather looks like that well-known movie star who has been plastered all over the tabloids, instead of seriously discussing putting together a purchase offer on your home.
You’ve already de-cluttered your home to make it more open and spacious-looking. The next step is to brighten your place up, and this is where fresh paint throughout every room of your house comes into play. And, by fresh paint we don’t mean the humdrum off-white paint that will make your house look like a typical rental property.
Buyers who are moving up from one home to another already expect to have to do some painting and updating. The first-time buyer expects everything to be move-in ready, and like most people new to the home-buying game are overwhelmed by the thought of actually having to paint more than one room in the house.
When choosing the new colors to paint your home’s interior, it is easy enough to hop online and search for “today’s popular paint colors” to discover what is in vogue and learn which rooms of your house should be what color. After all, this is exactly what the first-time home buyer has done when dreaming about their new home purchase.
Take a trip down to your local hardware store or discount center, invest in today’s most popular designer paint colors, then throw a painting party for your closest friends and neighbors to get the inside of your house repainted in record time. When the first-time buyer steps into your house they will be absolutely astonished to see that your home looks exactly what they have been looking at online.
Because the entire home-buying process is new to the first-time buyer, they frequently lack the vision to overlook cosmetic details. That’s one reason why it is important for you to brighten things up for them.
What’s the point of repainting the inside of your home with today’s hottest colors if it is too dark to see anything? Before showing your place, be sure to open wide any blinds or drapes to let the sun shine in. If you have dated window coverings or dark, heavy curtains, replacing them with a lighter fabric or attractive window blinds will make a world of difference to the home buyer.
If your home has a dated floor plan, small rooms, or your place simply does not let in a lot of natural light, do not despair. There are still quite a few steps that you can take to brighten up each and every room of your house.
With large, bulky furniture, remove one or two pieces and put them into storage until your house is sold. This will have the effect of making a room look bigger (without having to knock down any walls). Next, use accent and space lighting to brighten the corners and darker areas of a room to make the entire space look larger. Lastly, using a good-sized area rug as a visual centerpiece will make even the smallest of rooms look bigger.
Showing the first-time buyer that your home has as much space as it really does is important because the buyer will know that they are not going to outgrow your place anytime soon and will be able to live in the house for a long, long time.
Update, Update, Update
While people that are buying their second, third or even fourth home normally have cash on hand from the equity in their current home, the typical first-time home buyer is not going to have a lot of extra cash on hand after closing day. So, with very little money in the bank they will naturally look for a house for sale that has already been updated. Some strategic updating will make sure that your house is the one that they choose to make an offer on.
Updating usually falls into three categories: the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the appliances. Let’s take a look at each to see what is going to be the most attractive to your first-time buyer.
Kitchens continue to be the main focal point of the home, the place where family and friends will naturally gather, so it makes sense to begin your updating with this space. Easy and relatively inexpensive updating can be done by installing new faucet fixtures on the sink and replacing the knobs and pulls on the cabinets, storage doors and drawers.
If your sink and cooking area doesn’t have an attractive backsplash area, you can install decorative material to complement any new fixtures you’ve installed and the new paint color of your kitchen. Speaking of painting, just as you painted the rooms of your house with today’s most popular colors you can also repaint your kitchen cabinets to make them look almost brand new.
Countertops are the final item in the kitchen to consider updating. If you have old, dated Formica-type or grouted tiles think seriously about replacing them with granite, quartz or a modern composite material. New countertops come in a wide variety of colors that can be selected to complement any other updating you’ve done in the kitchen. This project will be more expensive than the other kitchen updates we have already discussed, but this investment will be well worth it if you can attract the first-time home owner and get the sales price you are asking for your home.
Bathrooms are next on the updating list. Fixtures for the sink, shower and bathtub can be replaced for a brand new look. Installing new light fixtures, mirrors and towel bars will also make a world of difference and are relatively inexpensive to do.
If you have an older home, consider replacing the toilets themselves, resurfacing the bathtub/shower walls and re-grouting any tile on the walls or floors that you might have. Both of these projects can easily be done yourself over a weekend, or if you’re not up to it can be professionally done for a reasonable fee.
Last but not least on the list is updating the appliances. For the kitchen you will want to take a look at the cooktop, oven, refrigerator and dishwasher to be sure that they are all modern-looking, and perhaps even consider installing a built-in wine and beverage cooler if you have the space in the kitchen. A washer and dryer in the laundry room, either individual units or a stacked combination unit if you lack the space, are must-haves.
Remember, selling to the first-time home buyer is more of a challenge than selling your house to an experienced buyer. The first-time buyer usually lacks the extra cash and the vision to do any updating work on their own. For you as the seller, the upside is that by making some minor investments in cosmetic work and updating, you can get the price you are asking for from the first-time buyer.
By investing in the curb appeal of your home to create the best first impression possible, by de-cluttering and re-painting in today’s designer colors, by making sure that each and every room in your home is as light and bright as it can possibly be, and by updating the kitchen, bathrooms and the appliances you will be able to offer the first-time home buyer the most bang for their buck, and make your home for sale the one that they ultimately choose.