Even in the San Juan Islands, our island lives can be hectic at times, leaving our homes a little jumbled. We look past the mountain of footwear in the corner of our mudroom, an exquisite collection of beach finds adorning window, or the magnificent compost along our driveway, but buyers will not.
According to Psychological Science, the Princeton psychologists found “it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression,” and from Science Of People, “our first impressions of people are 75% accurate.” Houses are not people, but house hunting can feel a little like dating. Instead of seeing a well-designed open floor plan and spacious 2-car garage with storage for both cars and kayaks, disorder and unfinished projects leave buyers feeling cramped, uncomfortable, and blocked from seeing their best life in your home.
The good news, with a little work, you can make your home’s first impression more appealing, give your home an edge over the competition and make any buyer say “YES.”
1. PREVIEW PHOTO INVENTORY
To understand your home’s current first impression, and to discover where a little attention is needed, take a preview inventory with photos of your home inside and out. Then ask yourself, friends, and family, “what do you see?” Tips to getting the best preview photos of your home include taking lots of pictures, maximize natural light shooting on a sunny day, remove outside screens for the photoshoot (saved out of sight for the new owners) and turn off your flash. For more tips on the best photos of your home, visit houzz.com/ideabooks/How-to-Photograph-Your-House on Houzz.com.
2. CURB APPEAL – SETS EXPECTATIONS
Your home’s exterior and landscaping speak volumes as to what buyers may find inside. Keeping your yard clipped or trimmed, looking its best with weeded beds, a tidy driveway, clean and pressure wash siding, decking, and windows with all equipment organized and tucked away can result in impressive ROI.
3. DECLUTTER, ORGANIZE & DEPERSONALIZE
Disorganization and clutter obstruct buyers from seeing the true beauty and possibilities of your home. Additionally, a house with too much personalization acts as a barrier to buyers envisioning themselves coming home every day. Spend a day or two of deep cleaning, reorganization, and depersonalizing before your first showing; possibly a few more days for some of us. Any time spent creating the feeling of space and a neutral canvas throughout your home is time well spent and ensures a buyer’s first impression is positive, allowing them to appreciate your home’s true potential and their life in it. View Realtor.com/advice/sell/make-fantastic-first-impression-selling-home/ for more tips on decluttering for dazzling first impressions at Realtor.com®.
4. UNFINISHED and NEEDED REPAIRS
We all have a to-do list of minor unfinished projects and repairs. Before you put your home on the market, optimize sale proceeds and your home’s first impression with buyers by checking off that list. Patch holes, repaint and refinish if needed, check and repair loose door handles or cabinet hinges, as well as touch up the caulking around tubs and sinks.
5. SET THE MOOD
Don’t forget to check all your lighting and replace any burnt bulbs. Then use lighting, soft neutral music and deodorize, neutralize and freshen with natural aromas to say, “This Home Is The One!” For more strategies on setting the mood for sold, visit Homelight.com/blog/tips-for-showing-your-house/ at Homelight.com®.
First impressions are no more important on a first date than they are when selling your home. Should you have questions about the value of your home, our market, or what steps you should take for the best return on your investment, please shoot us a call. We are here to help!
Cheers to Sold – Wally
What strange times we’re in… it’s hard enough to keep track of what day it is, let alone the economic state of affairs. In 40+ years of selling real estate, I’ve never seen the market so intense in our neck of the woods.
Our homes are our havens, maybe now more than ever. We’re approaching eight months of communal anxiety: virus fears, civil unrest, neighbors in crisis, political unease, and loss and illness for many. In large part, the desire for a ‘safe haven’ is driving the local market. Second-home owners are coming to stay long-term, and new buyers from urban areas are seeking safety and tranquility. The result is a shortage of properties for sale. Low inventory along with historically low interest rates has caused what is known as a ‘seller’s market.’ For those who’ve considered selling, there’s likely never been a better opportunity to gain maximum return on investment. This is the time to consider a valuation on your property to inform decisions about what to do next.
The NW Multiple Listing Service home sales for Orcas Island over the last six months has seen 92 closed sales, a median sold price of $683,500, and an average time on the market of 64 days. The largest increase was in the 30 days prior to November 1st. In that most recent window, our median sold price increased over $100,000 to $792,000, with an average of 118 days on the market. There are currently 22 pending sales and only 34 active listings; historically, the number of active homes is four times this number.*
Vacant land property sales have also seen a surge. Our six month average price was $246,500 with 85 days on the market. During the most recent 30 day window the average price jumped to $265,000, and days on the market shortened to 70. 48 vacant land properties sold in the last six months, with an additional 21 pending, leaving only 31 listed properties remaining. Typically, there would be five times that many.*
October often marks a winding down of the selling season, but the Covid-19 swell in real estate sales will be with us for months to come. Interestingly, we’re seeing far fewer people purchasing property for vacationing or as rentals. Nearly all of our recent clients work remotely to some degree, and say they are moving
here permanently. This means we will have an influx of new members in our island community. With the weight of many worries on our shoulders,
it’s more important than ever to engage and encourage connections among us, and especially with those who may not yet know many people here.
In a time of relative social isolation, it will be up to us to find ways to welcome them as ‘islanders.’
*Figures may have changed since the drafting of this column.