“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. ” –Eleanor Roosevelt.
The First Lady’s quote sums up the idea behind this post perfectly. Sometimes you need to listen to people who have “been there, done that” in order to make the right decision and avoid mistakes. When it comes to buying or selling a home, there are many things to keep in mind to make the process as painless as possible.
So, what do buyers look for in a new home? We took an unofficial poll and asked a wide variety of people to offer up some free advice on the subject. Perhaps our findings will help as you buy, sell or move into your next home.
LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
Q: What do you look for when buying or renting a home?
“We looked for proximity to family, friends, and work. An area with good schools, that is safe and has a positive quality of life.” –Frank, 43
” I want my home to be close to the places that I frequent. I want it to be close to work and school and the people I love.” –Jane, 58
“Busy streets and too many neighbors are not what I am looking for in a home. I like privacy and safety, especially with little ones running around.” –Juliet, 29
When conducting our unofficial research, location absolutely came out on top as the #1 determining factor when purchasing a home. Who cares if there is an open floor plan, or if the kitchen has granite counter tops, if the home is 30 miles outside of your ideal living area?
When buying a home, narrow down your search and only check out homes in your desired neighborhoods. Zillow has an advanced Draw Search feature that goes beyond zip code search. It lets you draw a freehand shape around the neighborhoods you want to search within. You can change out a kitchen counter top… you can’t move a home to another neighborhood.
If you’re selling your home, there’s obviously nothing you can do to change the location of your listing. However, you can bulk up your home’s description to include some of the desirable factors of its location. Discuss your home’s walking factor (Walkscore.com offers a rating based on your address), school district, and the sense of community in your area. Do whatever it takes to share the unique selling points of your neighborhood with potential buyers.
PRETTY PICTURES, PLEASE.
Q: What would turn you off of an online listing?
“Pictures of a cluttered/dirty house. Darkness.” –Jaclyn, 32
“Dirty or cluttered pictures for listing, dimly lit pictures.” –Kathy, 26
“Homes that look messy and unclean. Makes you wonder if they can’t clean their house to show it, how well did they maintain the important systems to the home.” –Joe, 29
“If there are only a few pics online, and I can’t get a sense of the property-forget it! There’s a reason they are not showing it off.” –Paige, 44
“The quality of the pictures has turned me off in the past.” –Juliet, 29
“Pictures taken with poor lighting, or not many pictures in the listing.” –Christina, 27
Wow, these comments say it all. The pictures in your home’s “online profile” truly do matter. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, you must put some time and effort into your home’s photo shoot. If you’re looking for some help, check out these tips to help you stage and photograph your home. One commenter says, “Hire a good photographer, take pics on a bright day, clean up the space, have lots of photographs and a good description.” Those suggestions are spot on and we couldn’t agree more!
MORE WORDS OF WISDOM
Q: Any other advice/tips/tricks to keep in mind when buying, selling, or moving?
“Check out the block and neighborhood without the Realtor. Drive through after school or in the evenings. Are there lots of kids outside? Are neighbors visiting or out for a stroll? What’s the vibe? Maybe stop and talk to them!” –Paige, 44
“Where are the property lines? The survey should double check this to make sure all fences are in the right spot. Just because some long time neighbors had a friendly agreement, doesn’t mean it will continue with new neighbors.” Michael, 33
“It was great to move into a house with neutral walls because it made it so much easier to paint with our own color choices…some rooms only needed one coat!” –Chris, 30
“If a home needs more attention and repair than I am able to afford or budget time wise, then it is a deal breaker for me.” –Janet, 44
“Is there an outside space/patio? If so, check if you’ll be able to hear your neighbor’s conversations because of proximity.” Kathleen, 29
We also reached out to some of our real estate pro friends on Twitter and got some excellent tips for home sellers:
@hireahelper Great tips! I'd add curb appeal. First impressions go a long way.
— Sanette Tanaka (@ssktanaka) May 21, 2014
— Jackie DiAntonio (@JackieDiAntonio) May 21, 2014
We hope you learned a thing or two from from these veteran movers. Keep all of this advice in mind as you sell, buy, or move into the next phase of your life.
What do you look for in a new home? Send us a tweet @HireAHelper and @DIYPlaybook with your tips or advice!