My mother has never looked better. For a woman in her eighties (sorry to spill the beans, mom) it's amazing how tall and beautifully she stands, as opposed to my dad, who's gotten smaller - and shorter - with age (sorry Harry). Looking at them side by side, I'm filled with hope that I've inherited my mother's excellent genes and I can look forward to my golden years with as much poise and elegance as she possesses. (Her mother stood tall as well.)
"Mom, you look fantastic," I commented a few weeks ago while we were out to lunch.
"Thank you," she replied. "My mother always said you needn't be the best looking person in the room, but you should enter the world with 'presence'." (I'm sure grandma meant that as a compliment.)
In other words, "stand up straight!"
She's right of course. How we present ourselves is everything as first impressions are made in the blink of an eye.
That's true of homes as well as more and more Buyers begin their search on the Internet. In fact, more than 93% of new home buyers comb the Internet with regularity and who can blame them? Sites like Trulia, Realtor.com, Zillow, Redfin and our own beautiful Grubbco.com have never made the search easier. In essence, you want your home to stand up straight and tall, especially when compared to others.
In addition to the typical 'still' photos we typically view online, the newest cameras can capture our listings in 360 degrees formats that virtually allow interested Buyers to walk through the floor plan from attic to basement; a recent and astonishing technology that is going to have a HUGE impact on the way we market homes moving forward. It's a game changer for sure, so from where I sit, getting ready to sell can't begin too soon.
Recently, I've been asked to weigh in with several potential Sellers as to the improvements that should be undertaken in the next year or two before they bring their homes to market. It speaks volumes about the sophistication of Bay Area homeowners that they are thinking and planning months and sometimes, years ahead - and so they should. (BTW - I love these calls so don't be afraid to ask.) With medium price home in San Francisco now hovering around $1,000,000, buying or selling a home is a high stakes game! And no one wants to be on the losing end of that equation.
If we assume that the market isn't always going to fall in favor of the Seller (a safe assumption as ALL markets correct over time) then it behooves us to think proactively about how to present our homes in their best light, regardless of the economic climate.
Or put another way, if a move is in your future (even if it's several years away) it's highly beneficial to start thinking about what changes you should be planning for in today's world, in order to get top dollar in tomorrow's. As an added bonus, if you are likely to do the work when it comes time to sell, why not do it now and enjoy some of the benefits while you still live in the home?
On the top of my hit list:
That's enough for today. I've got two homes coming to market this weekend and my assistant, Jill, and I are busy planting pots for the entry way. Why? These little details make a BIG difference when presenting your home to the world - especially in photographs. If I've only got a few seconds to catch a Buyer's attention on the Internet or at a drive by, I better leave no stone unturned. As I've learned from watching my mother, "presence" counts!
How can I help you?
(P.S. -You can follow my ongoing renovation on my new Blog: Renovation Riptide. I invite your comments and stories. )
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.