By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Many buyers are demanding perfection in home’s today.
A small stain on the carpet? Forget it. Distracting paint colors? They can’t look past it. No granite countertops? Onto the next house!
As home values drop, offering buyers some of the best bargains in years, more home buyers have realized they can get more choosy when home-shopping. And with inventories high in many areas, sellers realize their home needs to exude perfection if its going to stand out.
During the housing boom a few years ago, buyers were more willing to overlook flaws, or accept them, that is. They may have negotiated with the seller over repairs or upgrades, but some buyers were willing to even take the home “as-is” to win a bidding war or to get the home in the area they wanted.
Times have changed.
Even first-time buyers, who once were lured to the “starter home” (a.k.a. a fixer-upper), are getting choosier. A Coldwell Banker survey earlier this year found that 87 percent of first-time buyers say they want a “move-in” ready home over a fixer-upper--and they want it to be affordable too!
Buyers are "missing out on some excellent, older lived-in houses," Holly Kirby Weatherwax, a real estate professional in Reston, Va., told the Toledo Blade. "It's a shame, simply because they can't overlook" flaws that wouldn’t have bothered most buyers in the previous two decades. Those flaws could be anything from minor imperfections like kitchen appliances by different manufacturers to the home’s color not matching the buyer’s furniture, Kirby notes.
“Anything that can be a distraction, you want to eliminate,” a Tennessee home seller noted in a recent news article. “A light bulb isn’t a big issue, but it can affect [buyers’] subconscious.”
So how did buyers get so picky anyway? Is it just the power of a buyer’s market? Some also blame the rising popularity of home design shows on TV for making buyers more selective when viewing homes. But in recent months, more home design TV programming is showing a slight shift to fixer-upper housing make-overs, showing how a home’s flaws can be overcome to still become a dream home. Will such TV shows eventually make more buyers give less-than-perfect homes a second chance?
Until then, before the for-sale sign goes up, more sellers are heeding the advice of their real estate agent to clean, paint, upgrade and stage to avoid lowball offers. Plus, with the huge glut of low-priced foreclosures, such finishing touches may help home owners rise above the competition.