Sprucing up a home prior to placing it on the market is nothing new. Sellers want to create a favorable initial impression when prospective buyers come through their home. What this means is that the lawn needs to be mown, the shrubs trimmed, and the shutters painted. A well manicured property communicates lots of TLC and pride of ownership! Likewise, the interior of a home needs to be spotless, free of clutter, and "fresh as a daisy!"
The lingering Buyer's Market has forced Sellers to venture far beyond the basic cleaning and preening. It used to be that sellers would apply a fresh coat of interior paint, shampoo the carpets and wash the windows to prepare a home for sale. When priced appropriately and marketed effectively, a typical home would generally sell for a fair market value in a reasonable amount of time.
With a large inventory of available homes on the market, Sellers have had to go to extremes to differentiate their homes from all the others sporting FOR SALE signs in their neighborhoods. It is now fairly common, for example, for Sellers to replace perfectly adequate carpeting or to buy all new kitchen appliances to stay in the competition. Buyers seem to expect the homes that they are viewing to be move-in ready and then some. What this means is that Sellers feel the pressure to redo and/or refurbish their homes more aggressively than ever for fear of sitting on a listing that won't sell. I am concerned because some of the sellers whom I encounter simply cannot afford to pay for the renovations needed to remain competitive in this Buyer's Market. Yet, they frequently have no choice other than to cut the list price and/or wait longer for an acceptable offer.
Last week, I visited a FSBO in the same community as one of my listings. Having become friendly with the owners, they invited me to see their home. Upon entering the foyer, I looked around to see perfection. It was most evident that the owners had learned how to stage their home, for it looked just like the cover of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine! Exceeding "move-in condition," this impeccably decorated and immaculate split-level home has been on the market for two months. Would you believe that the owners told me today they had just decided to replace the stairway carpeting and lowered the price by $5,000 because someone touring the home had made a comment that the carpet looked slightly worn?
My listing near the FSB is temporarily withdrawn from the MLS while, you guessed it, the owner, at my recommendation, hires a contractor to remove the wallpaper in the family room and paint the wainscoting paneling a neutral, off-white color. We will be lowering the price by several thousand dollars, too.
In my view, it's more than the lackluster economy at play here. Realizing that the law of supply and demand governs the local real estate market, I, nevertheless wonder how much the media hype has contributed to the expectation by Buyers that houses need to be near-perfect in order to make an offer. Are some Buyers expecting too much of sellers? Are they overstepping their boundaries at times because they can? Do some Buyers feel a heightened sense of entitlement and, in turn, pass up quality homes with minor perfections offered at value prices?