This is a story of some favorite buyers who finally went under contract last weekend.
We met at an Open House last August when they were just beginning their search. And they were looking for the first time buyer cliche - under $400,000, detached house, room for a garden and studio, and within a mile of Metro.
In this part of the market, the thinventory is pretty anorexic! But I can almost always find something that works in Silver Spring, Maryland - a close-in suburb of DC.
Once they got serious, I noticed that they were responding only to homes that had great photos, great staging, and great curb appeal. And in most cases, the listing agents were holding off contract presentations for up to a week. This was to give everyone a fair chance to get pre-inspections.
We visited one house, and they got really excited. But as we walked through, I realized that it wasn't the house at all, but the staging that had a real wow factor.
The kitchen had a beautiful hanging pot rack with AllClad dangling from the hooks. There was a Le Cruset on top of the stove waiting for Julia Childs to fill it with her Beef Bourguignon ingredients. And as they were getting more and more excited, I realized that these serious cooks were impressed with a seriously flawed kitchen design - cheap cabinetry, the hated electric stove, granite counters that provided almost no prep space, and a strange location for the refrigerator. Somebody else's buyers "won" this cute little place in a bloody bidding war.
Then we went to the next house, which was much bigger with a better design, had a large fenced lot, a kitchen that needed a "soft reno", a faint stuffy odor, and That 70's Show carpet in the basement family room. It wasn't staged, and people were not throwing offers at the listing agent. In fact, it had been on the market for almost two months. But my buyers just couldn't get excited about the place, even though they could make it fabulous with little effort. But without trendy staging props, this place was about as exciting as a pair of sensible shoes.
So last week, I begged my buyers to stay away from the underpriced, staged homes with great curb appeal and delayed offer presentations and do this my way. And sure enough, on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 pm, an adorable brick colonial on a tree-lined street popped up as a new listing. There were no interior shots, so I jumped into my car to check it out. I called them to let them know I was standing in their new living room. In half an hour they met me there, and they quickly made an offer.
The listing agent presented their perfect offer within hours and we had a deal. The inspection went smoothly and we'll be settling in a few weeks.
It wasn't staged, but we could see how beautiful the oak floors were. The appliances are new and good quality. The renovated bath had a steam shower, and the overall room arrangement makes sense. Oh, and there is a large screened in porch in the back for a little al fresco summer dining!
Let me make one thing clear. When it's my own listing, it's staged to make buyers' hearts skip beats. The house will be a shameless flirt. But when it's my buyer, I think substituting their own vision and imagination for staging props results in a far better outcome.