By MAREN JAMES
What home buyers want today is simple, but not necessarily straightforward. According to Terry Young, Founder and Buyer Specialist of the Young Team, a seller in the know thinks of their house as a canvas that’s mostly blank. “Most people can’t visualize a house any other way. Buyers, looking at a particular carpet or paint color can only see the seller in that house. They can’t see themselves living there, so that obstacle has to be removed,” she says.
The kitchen, as the heart of the home is the most important area to update. The next priority is the master bath. After that, curb and indoor appeal both depend largely on the house configuration, its updates and frankly, the owner’s savoir faire. “We have to go on a case by case basis,” Young says. But here’s a hint – the interior is more important than the exterior.
Young mentions houses in which everything is looking great except for maybe the pantry, or a half bath or the super-used family room. “If you go someplace where the hardwood is scratched or the floor is stained most buyers are thinking it’s not well maintained and the dollar signs go off in their heads. They’re thinking ‘I’ll have to carpet the whole house,’ even though that’s not true,” she adds. “Everything needs to look crisp and fresh in today’s colors, very much like a model home.”
But let’s face it – many families, empty nesters and aging singles are entirely content with well-worn, comfortable (if dated) surroundings, until it’s time to sell. And then the questions begin. Does the entire kitchen need a makeover? Does the bath or master need a redo? The floors? The walls? Before a home owner flips out over the potential cost concerns, Young mentions how just a few clever additions or subtractions can make a big difference.
“If the kitchen cabinets are in good shape, and the whole room is fairly updated, the owner might just need to switch out the hardware or change the countertop, which creates a whole new look. It doesn’t have to be a total makeover. If a room seems dark or cold, buy more lamps.” Similarly, a bedroom can be transformed with a new spread and a bathroom can have a different feel just by changing the color or pattern of the towels.
Young likens buying a house to buying new clothes. “I ask people ‘can you see yourself living here?’ and I watch them trying on the house, just like a person trying on clothes in front of a mirror. Are they a baker – can they see themselves in the kitchen with enough counter space? Can they see their four children at the breakfast bar? If there’s too much clutter like coffee pots or decorations they can’t see where their coffee pot or their things are going to go.”
She acknowledges house sales are robust these days and circumstances don’t always allow buyers to make all the preparations they need. But as a general rule, time and money invested in the house pays off. “The more time you have to prepare your house for sale, the better the chance you’re going to get more money for it, not to mention it will sell more quickly,” she says. “Just organize the space and make it appealing so that a potential buyer can picture their life in that space.
The Young Team was founded in 2003 by Terry and her husband Jeff, a builder. Subsequently joined by their sons Ryan and Josh, the team has more than 20 employees and is affiliated with Keller Williams. “I certainly have a passion for what I do,” Terry says. “I still love it.”
Sellers’ Market: How savvy sellers can help themselves and their bottom line before listing a home
By MAREN JAMES