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What Homebuyers Want (and Home Sellers Need to Know)

In this seller’s market, you might think that all you need to do to sell your home is put a sign in the yard.

But today’s homebuyers are pickier and savvier than in the past. They know what they want, and they are willing to walk away from any home that doesn’t have the right stuff.

If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money, you need to know what today’s homebuyers want.

In this blog, I share six things that homebuyers want, and a few things they don’t.

Homebuyers Want Curb Appeal

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. What buyers see when they pull up to your house will set the tone for the entire showing.

Make sure the lawn is mowed, the sidewalks clear and clean of toys, lawn tools, or other obstacles. If you can, plant some flowers or put out flower pots and get a new welcome mat so your home looks cheerful and inviting.

Cosmetic Issues Can Turn Off Homebuyers

picture of a dog and small stain on a carpet

Buyers know they may have to paint or make some minor updates to a home to make it theirs. 

But if a home is too dated or there are obvious signs of wear and tear, such as cracks in the walls, dirty or warn carpet, heavily scuffed wood floors, or if a home just doesn’t feel clean, many buyers will take a pass thinking that these cosmetic issues indicate bigger problems with the home.

Small Updates Can Payoff Big with Homebuyers

Kitchens and bathrooms do sell houses. That’s because renovating these rooms can be quite expensive. If the appliances and fixtures in your kitchen or bathrooms are worn, dated, or dirty, homebuyers will take notice. Make sure all your appliances are in good working order and thoroughly clean. If you have older appliances, faucets, or fixtures, consider swapping them out so buyers don’t feel like they have to move in and immediately spend money updating these items. Spending a little bit of money upfront to change out faucet, a light fixture, or even replacing an appliance will pay if buyers feel confident that your home is well cared for. 

Less is More with Today's Homebuyers

When I walk into a house with buyers, I see how they respond to clutter. It’s hard to see a house, or see yourself living in a house, if the current owners’ stuff is everywhere you look. 

Even if your home doesn’t have an open floor plan, you can make your home feel open, airy and inviting with simple steps, such as reorganizing the furniture to open up a room, or by removing some furniture to make your home feel more spacious. You can declutter shelves and counters, and get rid of heavy window coverings that can make a home feel closed in.

Buyers will notice if a home feels dark inside. Make sure your lighting fixtures are clean, and install high watt bulbs in ceiling and kitchen fixtures.

When buyers are touring your home, make sure all curtains are open and all the lights are on, even on sunny days. This is going to make your home feel light and bright and welcoming.

A living room that is open, airy and bright and not too cluttered.

Make Room for Homebuyers to See Themselves in Your Home

Older homes often have smaller closets and more limited storage, but even homes with lots of storage can look crowded if your closets are jammed with stuff. Clean and organize your closets and storage areas.

Image shows an overflowing storage area.

Get rid of things you no longer need, and put items you won’t be using in the next few months into deep storage. You’ll need to do this anyway before you move, so get ahead of the game and make sure that buyers feel like your home has room for their things.

What Homebuyers Don't Want

In the National Association of Realtors annual survey of homebuyers and sellers, 41 percent of homebuyers who chose a new home over a pre-existing home did so to avoid having to make renovations or deal with plumbing or electrical issues.

Make sure the mechanical systems in your home are in good working order before you put your home on the market, so you don’t end up negotiating an inspection repair list or price reduction after you’ve already accepted an offer.

J Trout Lowen is a Minneapolis REALTOR® and an expert at helping homebuyers and sellers navigate the Twin Cities housing market.

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