Read Buyers’ Minds With These Selling Strategies


Conditions are aligning for a strong start to the spring home selling market. As you get ready to list, you can tweak the condition and positioning of your house to appeal to what buyers want right now.

And what is that? Keep reading!  Here’s the latest market research, interpreted for your selling success.

I want to own for the same cost as renting

Two trends are converging: in most markets, homes are more affordable. Prices are flat or down, and mortgage rates are low and likely to remain so, thanks to current federal policy.  And, rents are rising. The net result: In many areas, the cost of owning is about the same as the cost of buying. And that means that many renters are watching the market closely, looking for the right place at the right price. A recent national survey of homeowners and renters conducted by trade publisher Hanley Wood found that 66% of current renters wanted to buy because they “would rather build equity than pay rent.”

Help them see how buying your house is on a par, if not better, than continuing to rent. Create a “cost of ownership” sell sheet that breaks out the monthly cost of owning the house.  Use the actual cost of utilities and your current property tax bill. The sheet should include:

  • Mortgage payments (use your asking price, less a 10% down payment)
  • Homeowners’ insurance
  • Condo/HOA fees
  • Electricity
  • Gas/heating
  • Cable/internet
  • Water
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage deduction (buyer must estimate)

Refer buyers to the Rent vs. Buy calculator at

Great house, small package

Less really is more in the 2013 home market. Buyers – first timers and repeat buyers – want manageable houses with low maintenance and carrying costs. Even if you are selling a McMansion, you can use key terms to appeal to Goldilocks buyers who want a house that is not too big, not too small, but just right.

  • Label rooms as ‘flex’ or ‘multipurpose’ space instead of ‘dining room,’  ‘media room,’ or ‘den.’. This signals an open floor plan and lets buyers identify their own use for these rooms.
  • Emphasize storage space – walk in closets, pantries, dry useable basements.
  • Sprinkle in a few descriptors like ‘cozy’ and avoid words like ‘formal.’
  • Select photos that show inviting, small-scale vignettes, such as a window seat or  two armchairs in a conversational grouping in front of a fireplace.

You can get there from here

One of the biggest selling points is a convenient location. A survey completed for CEOs for Cities confirmed that in nearly every market, houses with higher WalkScores ( a ranking of walking convenience for daily activities) snagged higher selling prices. Each one point increase in a WalkScore delivered $500 to $3,000 more in home value than comparable houses with lower WalkScores. Even houses with mixed WalkScores – close to some daily amenities but within a short drive of others – garnered higher values than those with low WalkScores.

  • Include a WalkScore sheet in your marketing package that highlights the ranking system, and your house’s WalkScore.
  • Create a map that plots your house’s location and routes to everyday amenities such as grocery stores, parks, schools, dry cleaners, coffee shops and movie theaters. Help buyers envision how easy it would be to live in your house.
  • If your house is in a location that requires driving to accomplish most errands, create a map that shows the driving time to the nearest most important amenities, such as the post office and grocery store.

Go Green to Get Green

Builders and remodelers are pushing environmentally friendly materials and building processes as a major marketing tool. According to the most recent McGraw-Hill Green Home Builders and Remodelers Study, green homes are expected to become up to 38% of the new-home market by 2016, and 35$ of remodelers will be ‘building green” by the same year. Nothing is more green than making the most of an existing home. Play up these environmentally friendly features of your house:

  • Passive solar – south and western exposures capture plenty of sun. Keep window coverings open to show buyers how solar heat streams in.
  • Energy efficient appliances – if you have to replace outdated major appliances or HVAC systems anyway, buy EnergyStar appliances and highlight that in your listing.
  • Insulate pipes – Consider upgrading the insulation around your plumbing to minimize heat loss.

Top 5 Home Features Buyers Look For
Top 5 features home buyers look for
We asked what buyers want most when they search for a new home and learned that what they really want are the following:

  1. Garage/carport
  2. A garage not only offers buyers the ability to protect their vehicle from the elements, they can also use the space as a workshop or for additional storage. More than 50% of home buyers want a 2-car garage, according to a study performed by the National Association of Home Builders.

  3. Central air conditioning
  4. Having to install window-units in every room of a house when summer rolls around and removing them for the cooler months can be a big turnoff. Buyers want to know that their new home will provide them with the freedom to control the climate inside while the mercury rises outside.

  5. Home in move-in condition
  6. Buying a home is the biggest purchase most people will ever make in their lifetime and they rightfully expect that when they move in that they won’t have to make one repair after another. Buyers want to be able to move in and settle down, not get to work fixing the plumbing or electrical.

  7. Renovated or new kitchen
  8. For many homebuyers the kitchen can make or break a sale. A recently renovated kitchen or kitchen that is brand-new can be a huge asset for sellers to entice and encourage a sale.

  9. Open floor plan or layout
  10. More and more buyers are looking for homes with an open floor plan, specifically for homes that offer a “great room” that combines the kitchen, dining, and living room into a shared space. Make sure that you highlight the great room in your home for sale if you have one to offer.