Love It or Leave It

Photo Courtesy of Aimee Miller (Designed to Move)

It used to be that apartment developers looked at home features to make a building more livable. Today, tenants have such a remarkable experience renting that when it comes to buying a home, their rental experience shapes what they’re looking for in a home!

First and foremost, buyers want it done. Very few people today have the time, energy, or financial resources to buy and renovate a home. Kitchens and bathrooms are still top priorities, along with name brand appliances, stone or quartz counter tops, good lighting, tile back splashes, and under mounted large sinks.

A high walk-score for food, public transportation and schools turns heads. Wilmette, Winnetka, and Hinsdale in Chicago are all winners because of the train and walkable amenities. Santa Monica just got a train, and Silicon Beach has had home prices soaring. Public schools are also a factor for 35 year olds making their way back to suburban living and buying homes. 25 minutes from downtown is considered easy access, making close-in suburbs or semi-urban areas desirable.

Another important asset is the outside experience. A grilling area, al fresco dining with a pergola for shade, exterior lighting, and outdoor speakers add to a pleasurable space. An outside fireplace, pizza oven, or play park / basketball hoop gets brownie points. An exterior TV can update a yard and a seating area like nobody’s business!

In addition to organized closet spaces, which can clinch a deal, interior finishes are also important. Personally, I prefer a mixture of warm and cool tones for painted walls. A focus wall is an added face lift on a living room wall, dining room area, or master bedroom. A seamless color palette can give the house a thread of easy design. Soft grays mixed with beige and white (think restoration hardware) can make a great impression of sophistication.

Transitional to contemporary spaces that are clean make buyers visualize the dream. Empty homes can look daunting – a staged home sets a stage, and don’t forget a houseplant or an orchid. Many decorators use this rule: add one brown wood piece of furniture, such as a cocktail table or an armoire, to add a touch of character to a home.

An entry hall that smells good, has a nice light fixture and an entry table just makes a home feel more established. A bench or chair that makes it easy to remove shoes is another layer of added comfort at the front foyer. Wearing shoes is a no-no in my home. I keep baskets by the doors and a mat to keep things tidy.

Photo Courtesy of Aimee Miller (Designed to Move)

I always paint my front door – this is a buyers first impression. Unless it is a rich brown wood door and in great condition, a fresh coat can do wonders for a first impression. Technology from the moment you arrive provides consumer tricks: as the iPhone reigns supreme, your nest thermostat, security, music, cameras to check on the babysitter and kids is an easy head turner. Using a one touch electrical system makes turning off every light in the home convenient, and it’s not expensive to install in newer homes.

Lastly, buyers like minimal mess in basements, playrooms, and closets. This final issue can be the tipping point in closing a deal.

Quick Tips:
Hire a tax lawyer from the moment you purchase to keep taxes lower!
Make sure the broker is on social media and has an online presence and is computer savvy.

Today there are more homes on the market than ever before, and market time can be longer than 90 days. Be sure you ask your broker about all these issues so that you’re prepared. You can search online, which will help you be informed.

There is a psychology to selling and listing a home. If you have a large 8 bedroom home, pair it down to 5 bedrooms, a private office, workout room, and game room potential. Or you may need to expand the home’s capability. I recently put my beach house in LA on the market. When I purchased the home, I noticed many people had homes that were too small. Because I am an outlier, I look for the fixer uppers. I took a 3 bedroom home and expanded it to 5 bedrooms and 3 family rooms so it could be used as a gracious full time home or a part time home for a larger family.

Buying the most efficient home in the best neighborhood is still smart planning, and price your home to sell if you’re on the buying end. This will help speed time velocity.

Using an interior designer, or a friend in the business, you can give you some great ideas. Don’t forget HOUZZ and HGTV. I have been published on both along with Traditional Home. Awards or special recognition can help, or just search these websites to make your home stand out.

Love it or leave it can be made easier with these simple tips.


P.S. For those of you selling your home, price the home as close as you can to the realistic selling price!  It creates interest AND buyers are savvy!