Looking at homes for sale — sounds like a no brainer, right? Not if you see what I see when showing homes to buyers. From falling in love with yummy paint colors to going ga-ga over granite counter tops, I’m convinced that we real estate agents should give lessons in how to actually look at a house.
Ditch the emotions
Australia’s Commonwealth Bank and psychologist Dr. Tim Sharp conducted a survey of homebuyers and came up with some interesting findings.
The majority of respondents said that they are “rational rather than emotional buyers.” Yet, when asked why they bought the house they did, this is how they responded:
- 37 percent of them liked the feel/vibe of the home
- 22 percent were instantly attracted to the home
- Slightly less, 21 percent, said the home suited their personalities.
Now, I don’t know about you, but those do not sound like rational reasons to go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt, for the next 30 years.
But wait – there’s more.
Nineteen percent of first-time buyers were influenced by the home’s décor (staging works).
Most surprising, however, is that nearly 45 percent of these homebuyers said they paid more for the home because they “really liked it.” One of my colleagues in New York says “With real estate, there should be no such thing as love at first sight.” And, I couldn’t agree more.
Dr. Sharp warns that emotions may come into play at several points during the purchase process.
- Curb appeal – It’s what lures you into the house. Sure, if the homeowners care enough to maintain the home’s exterior, chances are good the interior has been kept up as well. But, it’s a danger zone because too many fall head-over-heels for the charm or sophistication of a home’s curb appeal and become blinded to the interior’s flaws.
- Checking out the interior — Everything from wall colors to floor covering to furnishings can hook your emotions. And, they are all temporary. That gorgeous couch that makes the living room won’t be there when you move in. Remember, smart home sellers will stage their homes to deliberately make an emotional connection with potential buyers, like you.
It’s all about the bones, baby
Take off the rose-colored glasses and allow logic to take control, even for a short time. Layout in a home is important – are there areas that seem to serve no useful purpose? Are the bedrooms the appropriate size for your (and your family’s) needs? Regardless of how charming the bathroom appears, if it’s the only one in the house, will you be satisfied?
Kitchens deserve extra scrutiny since they’re the rooms most commonly staged. Storage is important so don’t be afraid to open the pantry, cupboards and drawers. Open appliance doors to ensure they aren’t impeded by the cabinets. You’re not snooping, so don’t feel weird about doing this. Unless, of course, you ARE snooping.
“Is there good flow between frequently used rooms? Are rooms arranged logically? Look at how traffic travels through the house as a whole,” suggests Paul Morse, of Morse Construction Incorporated in Boston.
This is valuable information, especially if the home is poorly decorated or messy. Just as a staged home can lure buyers, a dirty home repels them. It would be a pity to walk away from a home that has most of what you want just because you hate the carpet or the house is cluttered.
Then, there’s this
Too many emotional homebuyers neglect to consider other aspects of the home when they fall in love.
- How close to your maximum pre-approval amount will the purchase be? And, if it’s at the max, how tight will the payments squeeze your budget? It it’s too tight, let’s look at less expensive homes. I can show you how to make one of these close to your dream home. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re stressed every month over your house payment.
- Is the list price appropriate for the market or is it priced more than market value? I can help you with this one, too.
- What about the area in which it’s located? Will it have an impact on the home’s future market value?
Sure, it’s fine to imagine your sofa in front of that yummy fireplace or how much fun the kids will have in that amazing backyard. Most of us struggle between logic and emotion when considering a large purchase. The trick is to walk that fine line between both of them.