Sunday marks the 54th Annual Super Bowl and this year's epic battle is between our own San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Like many of you, I'll be plopping down in front of the television come Sunday afternoon to watch not only the game, but the Super Bowl commercials as well. As an added bonus, Jennifer Lopez and Shikira are slated to be among the half-time performers so it's sure to be a dynamic and entertaining afternoon.
(Please note that most Open Houses will START AND END EARLY to accommodate Sunday's Super Bowl game.)
Meanwhile, Jill, Sarah and I are in the midst of our own Super "Bull" which consists of prepping several properties for market simultaneously. Because we are juggling several listings, we need every available minute. As soon as the Sellers move out and give us the green light, we move in . . . AND like the proverbial BULL in the China shop, we're not exactly delicate.
Given that there are time restraints and unexpected challenges associated with bringing your home to market, it can be a tricky dance to efficiently navigate the speed, while still addressing tender feelings. Based on years of experience, we know that the Spring Market arrives in tandem with Super Bowl Sunday, thus there's no time to delay. Buyers are out and about and they are anxious to find a home. (Wouldn't you like it to be yours?)
If the Sellers have moved away, the sudden onslaught of work crews is far easier as it avoids the desire for Sellers to micromanage the process. However, when Sellers stay local (and most of them do), it's much harder to avoid stepping on a few toes. Turns out, people are highly attached to their homes and the design choices they've made (no matter the era). By way of example, my parents had rust-colored shag carpets over hardwood floors, which didn't exactly show the house to its best advantage come time to sell. (Sorry to throw you under the bus, Mom.) But that was then, and selling a home today is an entirely different game. With the initial search often involving our smart phones, "fresh," "neutral," and "Insta-worthy" are the objectives we are aiming for to gain the largest buying pool. Remember, home purchases are largely driven by emotions, followed by finances (not the other way round).
So, when we strongly urge Homeowners to cover the pink walls in their daughter's bedroom, to change out the lighting, or to apply paint to the wooden cabinets they carefully chose precisely because they wouldn't require painting, our suggestions may cut too close to the bone and risk offending. (Please allow me to apologize upfront.) However, if top-dollar is your intended goal (and I'm assuming it is), I encourage you to listen to our advice. This isn't personal; it's business. (After all, we aren't selling the house to you,)
Earlier this week, Sarah and I had a listing appointment with a Seller who wasn't convinced that his home would benefit from a full-scale production, and vigorously defended his point of view. His home happens to have a mid-80's aesthetic, is on the wrong side of the hill, and has very little usable outdoor space, and while the Seller willingly acknowledged these challenges, he couldn't concede that painting, lighting and staging would likely produce a far superior result. (He's entitled to his opinion; it's his house after all, but he's dead wrong.)
With all due respect, it's a flawed argument to believe that a challenging house doesn't benefit from MORE help, not less, ESPECIALLY if it's challenging. Here's a real estate truism: ALL houses have challenges.The ability to overcome them, to solve them, or to direct attention away from them, is the job of your Agent and why some of us, frankly, are better suited for this task than others. (We know how to sell houses.)
Let's face facts, there's a reason Estee Lauder reaps billions annually and why brides walk down the aisle in wedding dresses, instead of their jeans. Sellers should think of an Open House as a coming-out ball. Given that most prospective Buyers will form an opinion within 30 seconds, your home should dazzle and impress at first glance. Moreover, if the house photographs poorly because we didn't take the trouble to stage, or to do everything else within our power, we'll probably never get the Buyers into the property to begin with. To use a football metaphor, without proper preparation, you'll be fumbling the ball at the one-yard line.
In sharp contrast to the less-convinced Seller on the hill, our Sellers at 68 Oakmont Avenue had full faith and trust in our recommendations, handed off a set of keys as they headed to Arizona, and gave us permission to do whatever needed doing without a moment of second-guessing. Now, they're in the enviable position of having multiple Buyers very keen to own their stunning home.
Why? Because they're house looks darn near perfect and every improvement we made to the house was on point. In other words, come the offer date, they should be well rewarded not only for their own fabulous efforts, but for ours as well. (I'll keep you posted.)
In the meantime, enjoy the Super Bowl. Go Niners!
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.