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Can buyers fall for a home that isn’t love at first sight?

02/12/2018

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and we know that love comes in many shapes and forms. In fact, when you’re showing prospective homebuyers properties, it’s not uncommon to find a match made in heaven. The buyers want what the house has, whether it’s a gazebo or new granite countertops, and they’re ready to write a check for the down payment the minute they walk out the door from the initial viewing.

In fact, 56 percent of homebuyers purchase a property because they fall in love with it.

But you probably also come across prospective homebuyers who need help seeing what a great match a home is for them.

The home may have drawbacks, such as an unsightly yard or leaky faucets. So instead of focusing on the home’s potential, your clients may focus on the negatives, which means they could miss out on falling in love with the neighborhood’s diamond in the rough.

One of your jobs as a real estate agent is to show these buyers that the home is a natural fit for them as long as it meets many of their must-haves.

Homebuyers should make a “must-haves” list, as well as a “nice-to-have” list, so they can see when a home meets most of their needs — and when it doesn’t. And keep in mind, some downsides can even be used as negotiating tools that will ultimately benefit the buyers by bringing down the asking price.

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Here are five common objections to a home as well as ways to help buyers look past the imperfections, see the potential and fall in love. 

It’s too expensive

wutzkohphoto / Shutterstock

What happens if the house is a perfect match for the buyers, but it’s just out of their budget? The best strategy for this is to create a comparative market analysis (CMA), which determines the house’s value by evaluating similar home sales.

Once buyers know what comparable properties are selling for, they can adjust from there. If the asking price is too high, help them negotiate to a reasonable one. They’ll thank you all the way to the bank.

If it’s reasonable and still out of their price range, though, suggest other alternatives.

Are they eligible for a Federal Housing Authority (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA) loan, which allows a much smaller down payment than conventional loans? They could use the money saved for monthly mortgage payments.

Solution: If you can’t talk a seller down, remember it’s never OK to let your clients spend too much.

As Dana Bull, a Boston-area Realtor puts it, “It’s legitimate to allow yourself to be guided by your heart in making certain compromises, but it’s not OK to allow an emotional purchase to be a bad financial choice. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment when putting together an offer and negotiating.”

If they truly can’t afford it, reassure them that they can fall in love with another home that’s in their price range.

The decor is shabby

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Despite the best advice of real estate agents on sprucing up their homes for sale, many sellers want prospective buyers to look at their homes as is.

The home may have leaking faucets, peeling paint or zebra-print furniture (or worse). What you need to be on the look for are systemic problems that these small issues can reveal.

For example, is the plumbing shoddy? That’s a different beast that would require a lower offer on the home or negotiating home repairs before buying.

Solution: If it’s all systems ago in terms of their love of the house, remind your buyer that interior visuals are often relatively easy fixes.

Faucets can be fixed and upgraded for minimum financial outlays. Paint is one of the easiest re-dos there is, and it can be done in a weekend. Old furniture can be given the heave-ho to make way for their own furniture.

Curb appeal is lacking

Photo by Aleksandar Popovski on Unsplash

Sometimes outdoor visuals will nearly quash a sale. Exterior paint can be shoddy, too. Siding could have seen better days. The yard may be overgrown with trees, knee-high grass or other vegetation to the point of blocking the light from windows. 

For the prospective owner, these visual drawbacks can be a negotiating point for an offer, especially for bigger repairs like siding.

Solution: Here, too, the fixes can be relatively simple. The buyer can ask the seller to lower the asking price in accordance with the estimated cost.

Then, the buyer can bring in someone in an aerial lift to manage unkempt trees or repaint/re-do the siding. Alternatively, the seller can hire out these services themselves before the sale to maintain their selling price.

The neighborhood lacks must-haves

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Neighborhoods are important to any home sale. Many buyers have a “must-have” list for the neighborhood as well.  Common items include good school districts, parks or low property taxes. However, this varies based on the homebuyers and their lifestyle. 

Solution: If a house they love lacks these or any other quality they’d like to see in a neighborhood, reassess how necessary the neighborhood amenities are.

School districts are important only if the buyers have school-age children, and many areas will allow children to attend other school districts. Parks in another neighborhood may be equally easy to reach. Property taxes might be higher than they’d like, but the house price may be lower than similar homes in areas with lower property taxes.

The commute is difficult

Photo by Mark Cruz on Unsplash

The impact a home purchase has on a homebuyer’s commute is a common objective. It could make the commute longer, or simply more difficult, putting them through high-volume highways or downtown and taking time away from the family.

Solution: Crunch facts and figures here. Is there a method that would make the commute better, such as swapping a car for public transportation?

Is the cost of the commute offset by the value and amenities of the house? Might the commuter take a different job with a better commute in the near future?

When homebuyers find a house they love, it’s not uncommon for objections to one or more factors to run through their heads.

Work with your clients to find a solution that meets their needs and a home that steals their hearts.

Megan Wild is the editor of Your Wild Home in Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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