Buying a new build vs. an existing home – what everyone should consider

Why do home buyers spend more money per square foot on brand new homes, located farther from basic amenities (shopping, schools, transportation), and then wait months before they are able to move in?  It appears that home buyers have no imagination.  After showing thousands of homes, I have witnessed that home buyers cannot picture the results that are produced by a quality paint job or new flooring.  Even after explaining in detail the true value of buying a home that needs some basic updating, home buyers cannot see the big picture.  Home builders are very smart; they recognize a home buyer’s weakness by creating wonderful, amazing model homes that appeal to our senses or at least to our design aesthetics.

How can an existing home owner interested in selling his or her home learn from this?  Start by cleaning your home from top to bottom, inside and out – no clutter, no trash, and no old broken pieces of furniture.  In the last 35 years of showing homes I have observed one solid consistent behavior pattern demonstrated from every home buyer – they have no tolerance for someone else’s dirt.  Second, reduce all of the stuff that you have been collecting and now proudly displaying as a remembrance of old friends, family members, or vacations taken years ago.  Box it up, keep it for your next home but take it out of the line of sight for all potential home buyers.  At the same time eliminate at least one third of all of your furniture.

Now that you have reduced your belongings so that they are more visually pleasing for a home buyer, your next step is painting.  Painting is relatively inexpensive.  Paint all of the interior walls the same neutral color (ideally Almond Latte or Khaki) and the woodwork and trim Swiss Mocha, which is an off white color.  Keep the left-over paint, your new buyers will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  After the paint has dried, hang a few pictures and mirrors so that your home has a personal feel but not overwhelming.  To wrap up the inside, have your carpeting professionally cleaned.  If it is too far gone, replace it with medium grade neutral color carpeting.

Take your critical eye for detail outside.  If the exterior of your home has not been painted in the past ten years, it is time to repaint.  If you aren’t painting the exterior, definitely paint the front door and door trim – if the other exterior doors are showing wear or dirt you should paint those as well.  Remember, if you have a homeowner’s association, you need to check with your community manager for permission even if you are repainting the home the same colors.  Check to see how well your key operates the front door lock.  If it isn’t effortless, fix it.  I have seen buyer’s impressions change quickly when the Realtor struggles to unlock the front door (it is viewed as a potential gauge of the mechanics of the rest of the home).  Remember to clean your door bell, years of sticky fingers have reduced the white button to a dirty brown smudge (at the same time clean the button in your garage that operates your garage door opener).  Remove all dead plants; add some fresh new color in either bushes or flowers.  Fertilize your lawn and all bushes.  Healthy, vibrant plants change your home’s curb appeal.  Clean all oil stains off of your driveway and periodically hose off all cement sidewalks – especially hours before you know a potential home buyer will be viewing your home.

If you follow these basic instructions, your home should sell faster and at a higher price ultimately netting you more even if you calculated the added expense I recommend.  Most importantly, as you analyze your current home’s potential, remember home buyers have no imagination