Monday, September 10, 2012

Selling a Home Is Like Dating: How to Get To Your Real Estate Happily Ever After

Selling your home can be easier if you look at it
kind of like going out on a few first dates
© Arbron, used with Creative Commons
If you have had few showings or your home has sat on the market for a long time, it can feel demoralizing. What's wrong with the house? Why does no one recognize how great it is, or even come look at it just once? In some ways, trying to move a stagnant house can feel for the seller a little like being stuck in a long single rut in your love life. Fortunately, getting that house to sell faster takes a similar strategy to getting a date. Here's how:

Assess how you are putting yourself out there. If you are trying to get a date, you might start an online dating profile featuring attractive photos that show your best features and say a little something about your style and personality. You might try going out to meet people at public gatherings or local hangouts. Take a look at if your house is doing the real estate equivalent. Do you have good photos showing off its most marketable elements on your realtor's website and sites like and Zillow? Is your house featured in print real estate listings? Are you hosting open houses? If your house has great photos and well-written descriptions and just isn't getting any showings, it may not be out in front of enough potential buyers. On the flip side, if you are putting your home out there without making sure it looks its best and presents well, you aren't going to attract many viewers either.

A major part of selling a home is helping potential buyers envision themselves in it. That means showing off the parts of the house most compatible with other people's lifestyles and tastes. Some houses have features that are on a lot of people's wish lists, like stainless steel appliances, great rooms, and multi-car garages. Others have a strong personality of their own, and while they are great houses it just takes longer to find a buyer who's been dreaming of, say, a five story 20 foot wide house with contemporary Swedish architecture. Or worse, the quirkier a house the more "tourist traffic" it might get without any serious interest. This is why so many homes come in "builder's colors," or are repainted to simple neutrals when they go on the market, to help broaden their compatibility.

When you prepare your home for a showing, you want to be sure it has the best date possible with the potential buyers. Just like you wouldn't want to go on a date with the rumbled old clothes you'd wear on laundry day or with a case of bad breath, you want your house to look its best. This is where staging your home comes in handy. Just by going beyond standard cleaning to make the house look extra manicured you can win over potential buyers, perhaps even at first sight.

The famous Chattanooga Space House isn't on everyone's
dream home wishlist. Selling a unique property may simply
take longer, even with the help of an aggressive realtor.
Pricing your home is the real estate equivalent of dating etiquette like calling too often, refusing to converse, or starting to get serious too quickly. Just like you want to maintain an even keel and avoid extremes in your love life, you also want to be sure not to come across as too desperate or hard to get when it comes to setting a price for your house. A beautiful home priced too low can suggest that something is wrong with it, that it might be a money pit or be built on a haunted old graveyard. The reverse is true of homes that are priced too high for their features or location. The price says a lot to a potential buyer, so be careful where you set that bar. When it comes to negotiating with an interested buyer, remember that compromise is king in both business and personal relationships. You may need to meet the buyer part way by accepting a counter offer, including the appliances for free, or covering closing costs.

Last, just as you might rely on the opinion of a trusted friend to introduce you to potential dates, help you pick out a great outfit, or talk through how an outing went, so you can rely on your realtor. You need a realtor who will be honest and savvy when it comes to pricing, staging, photographing, and advertising your home. You need a realtor who will take an aggressive approach, going to bat for you to ensure your home gets many viewers, and a quick sale, just like you want friends who will support you 100% of the time.

It may seem like a silly metaphor, to compare selling a home to getting a date. But for first time sellers or those struggling to move on from a stagnant property, it can be a great way to make an unfamiliar or difficult business process both relatable, personal, and doable.

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