Ugly KitchenOften when I work with buyers, I see them get hung up on details that should make no difference in the overall process of purchasing a new home. An ugly old door, the wrong paint colors, bad landscaping, horrible curb appeal, dated cabinet/door handles, (the list goes on…) can and will turn them off. That’s because they’re focused on the wrong aspects of buying a home.

I get it. Like dating, there has to be an initial attraction, but at some point, you have to know your non-negotiables and maybe even be willing to bend (or not) if you get everything else you want/need.

Buyers should ask questions like:

  • How long will my commute to work be?
  • Can I "age in place" here?
  • Are the neighbors nosy/uninvolved/caring/party animals?!
  • How hard is getting in/out of my community when I usually come and go?
  • How far is the airport from here? (business travelers)
  • Will this house work if we have (kids/more kids/fewer kids at home)?

Many buyers don’t ask these questions early enough. If they focused more on these aspects of a home, the buying process would be more logical and possibly take less time. They’d be less likely to be distracted by what I call “the pretty”- aesthetic things that don’t impact whether the home is a fit for them or not. Sometimes you can’t answer these questions until you go through the house, but there are clues you can gather to find the answer that will save your effort/time before you get there.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about buyers going deep into their escrow period only to find out things like: their car doesn’t fit in the garage, or the home is in an airport flight path, along a major bus route, or WORSE, that the home is just too far from the epicenter of where their life really is. It’s not convenient to where they shop, go to school, spend time on the weekends, etc. Buying a home and coming to this realization really just sucks, to be blunt because these are the things you can’t change about a home.

You can paint, improve landscaping, change cabinets, floors, appliances, etc. to enjoy a home more. You can’t change a floor plan very easily (or inexpensively). You can’t change your neighbor who likes to fire up his motorcycle every Saturday or Sunday AM when you like to go out on Saturday nights and sleep in on Sundays. These are the things I wish buyers would think more about.

If buyers also could detach themselves from the sellers lives in the home and focus on whether their own lives fit there, it would be easier to identify the right one. It doesn’t matter if the seller parks their car in the garage sideways and wastes tons of space or if instead of using the massive walk-in closet, their clothes mostly live on the floor. Also, if the sellers have the best swim up pool bar this side of the Mississippi, but you haven’t entertained at home since 2004 and your new commute from the house doubles, it’s probably irrelevant.

I also wish buyers would be more open to asking me for help if they can’t visualize a home after needed/desired improvements. I’ve sold a lot of homes, remodeled many and know personally that many repairs are easy & inexpensive to do. But many buyers automatically assume most home improvements or repairs are too expensive to take on. If you’ve worked with me, you might know that my favorite improvement is recessed lights- only $85/can! However, most other people don’t know this.

Little improvements that cost a few hundred dollars add up to thousands in the eyes of a buyer and the baby gets thrown out with the bath water. Homes that should be realistic options aren’t even considered because the buyer couldn’t see the bigger picture. Some buyers are really good at figuring this out on their own, but many aren’t. The ones who do, usually make the best purchases and have the most financial upside. We call them "flippers"… (yes, like the ones you see on HGTV, Bravo, the DIY Network, etc.) There are lots of them here in Phoenix & Scottsdale. Some are awesome. Some really are not, but still make lots of money because they have more vision than the buyers who buy their homes.

I worked with a newly married & very cute couple a few years ago. Here's what they were able to envision and accomplish in very short order after closing:

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This is the epitome of doing it the "right" way. They removed popcorn ceilings that dated the house, added recessed lights (YES!!!), painted and changed carpeting (among other things). They LOVED their home and loved how well it suited their life transition from couple to growing family. Before they found "the one" they spent an entire weekend riding around on their bikes exploring the area. They knewI know they were sad when we sold it last year (in a few days, I might add) to move closer to family.

That being said, buyers should be looking at the bigger picture. It’s not one or 2 things that determine whether they will be satisfied with the home they purchase. It’s the sum of  all aspects- the kitchen, bedrooms, backyard, neighbors/neighborhood, grocery stores, commute, etc. Make sense?

The reality is there are very few homes on the market or that I’ve sold which were completely turn-key, even if brand new!! Most buyers will change paint, carpet or things that align the home to their lifestyle. However, many aren’t willing to invest the mental effort, let alone the physical effort to do the work. If you’re spending $500,000 to buy a home, investing mental/physical effort and a few thousand dollars more is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Well, it's 0.6%, to be exact if you're spending $3K AND you plan to live there (and want to be happy) for many years.

My advice to any buyer is to spend time up front and list exactly what you need & want in a home. Then prioritize this list- needs first, then wants. This will save you time and your effort of trekking from home to home (that won’t work) and it will make sure you’re not blinded by “the pretty” enough to make a bad choice. (Mind you, none of this is in my advice to investors- that’s a whole different blog)

Want to know more about my approach? Call or text me. I'll lay it all out there for you. Have a great week!




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