What Sells a House Today?

House with HostasWhile the timeless key factors of location, lot and layout are still important, condition is rapidly rising higher in importance.  In decades past, buyers did not shy away from handyman specials, seeing homes that needed work as an opportunity to add sweat equity to their home’s value.  Well, not so much today.   Boomers were the product of parents and grandparents who lived through the austerity of the depression – knowing how to do everything yourself was a necessity for those generations. So they taught their children, the Boomers home repair skills.  But we didn’t pass them on to our children. Instead, we sent them to college.  So, for the most part, the new generation of home buyers does not want a house that needs work.   And frankly, neither do Boomers anymore.  If someone in their 50s or 60s is buying a house today, they typically have lived through fixing up a house or two, or three and are tired of it.  They want to enjoy their retirement years in a house that is not constantly in need of repair.   The trend for all generations is not to be weighed down by the demands of our houses and to enjoy the time we have on this planet.

Reason #2.  Buyers don’t have money left over after purchase to shell out for repairs.  It takes everything a home buyer has to buy the house.  There is no money left over to pay contractors.  With today’s interest rates, it is easier for a buyer to take on a larger mortgage than it is to gather enough cash for renovations.

Reason #3. Buyers don’t have the time or know-how to manage contractors.  Most couples are both working to pay that mortgage, so no one is home to manage the contractors.  And with the demographic of many greater Boston area buyers being international, you have a population of buyers who don’t know any contractors they can trust.

So I am seeing that buyers would rather get in a bidding war on a a house that is in excellent condition and pay a good deal more for it than they would for a house that is in fair or poor condition.  For example, I recently sold a house in Newton that was a 1,500sf 2-bedroom Cape for well over asking price.  Aside from having only 2 bedrooms, the house did not have all the amenities buyers expect today – master bath, granite counter tops, a children’s play room.  So you would think it would not sell so fast or for so much over asking.

But what it did have was absolutely immaculate condition.  Everything looked freshly painted, not a nick, scuff, or spot of lumpy paint anywhere.  The walls and trim were in the condition you would have imagined they were when the house was built in the 1930s.   Nothing was broken, cracked, loose or dingy.  The house gave the impression of being meticulously cared for.   And lastly, the house was so clean you could have eaten off of every surface.  Although it did not have the granite counter tops we all seem to love, it also did not have the dated elements that buyers seem to find most offensive – Hollywood lights in the bathroom, old wall-to-wall carpeting in non-neutral colors, tiles from the 70s – 90s that no one seems to like, brass fixtures in the bathroom ,etc.  if you have these things, work on getting them upgraded.

I have to say it was a joy to sell this home. All the buyers who came to the Open Houses commented on the condition and even the home inspector raved about the house. I am seeing more and more that the homes in excellent condition are selling fast while larger houses in the same price range in fair condition do not.

So, If you are thinking you may be selling your house in the next year or two, then you should have a game plan for getting your home in the condition necessary to have it sell for top dollar.  If you would like our Guide to Preparing Your Home for Sale  Contact Me for a copy.

Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904