By Dave Parrish
It has long been known that first impressions are an essential ingredient to success or failure. Real estate is no exception. As a mater of fact, those first eight seconds of a prospective homeowner’s encounter with a prospective new home is the key to selling success.
What happens in those first eight seconds?
A decision is made. That decision is vital to success. It’s the decision, although subconscious, as to how we will view everything else we see. Will we respond to what we see by saying: “Well, I can work with that or I don’t know about that”?
Don’t think for a minute this is a non-consequential decision. It’s a harsh reality, but one you would be wise to accept. First impressions matter. Once this impression is formed, it’s extraordinarily difficult to change, which is why it’s so important to put your best foot forward.
When working with sellers, I spend a considerable amount of time focusing on how to make those first eight seconds work for them. How to speak to the prospective buyer in terms of three of their senses: sight, smell and sound.
Sight: We’ve all heard over and over about curb appeal. Without it you’re reduced to being a commodity. Curb appeal started to enter your buyer’s mind on the way to your home. What all did they pass to get here? While it may be out of your control, that doesn’t mean you’re unaffected by those things. Overcoming a poor approach is difficult. But, let’s say the approach is at least not a problem. What can you do that makes your home shine from the road, that invites someone inside?
You may not be a master gardner, and a substantial investment in the landscape at this late date won’t usually make sense. Like so many other home improvements, you want to do those while living in the home so that you can benefit from the expenditure, as they rarely return dollar-for-dollar. Even so, attend to the details of keeping the grass cut, shrubs trimmed, weeds under control. The house needs to absolutely shine from the road. Paint the front door or do whatever is required to make it look brand new and inviting. A new front door actually has one of the strongest returns on investment. A little potted seasonal color at the front door is a relatively inexpensive way of saying “Welcome.”
Be cognizant of which door the purchaser will be entering and make that first experience entering the home the most powerful possible. De-clutter, de-clutter and de-clutter some more.
Look at your paint colors with a different eye. I know you love crimson or orange on the walls, but a move toward a more neutral palette invites the prospective homeowner to see the home in ways that are more likely to reflect their preferences and begin to see the home as their own.
If you’ve got any deferred maintenance items, carpets that need to be cleaned or walls that need to be painted, do it now. Deferred maintenance can be a deal killer at worst and an invitation for lower offers for sure, generally much lower than the cost to address.
Keep it lighted. Make your windows sparkle. Don’t turn your home into a cave. Have the window treatments set to allow the rooms to be flooded with natural light. Leave some lamps on. Find the right light balance. Avoid overly harsh artificial light.
Smell: Be aware of smells. Smoke is a killer, followed quickly by pet odors. If needed, invest in an ozone machine and remove those odors and stop the source. Now may be a great time to quit smoking or at least switch to an e-cigarette. Avoid overpowering scents. Those coverup scents may be taken as a sign you’re trying to hide something. The best scent is no scent.
Sound: Many people are auditory sensitive. Perhaps some really inviting wind chimes on the back deck. Or perhaps your cable service has a music channel that provides a soothing music channel that can offer a calming stay-a-while sound ambiance, perfect for talking over writing an offer.
May the market be with you.