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The Kathy O'Neal Team

Real Estate in Chantilly Blog


In The Straight Scoop we routinely offer “Buyer Strategies” and “Seller Strategies.”  They include ideas and approaches from myself or one of our contributors, designed to help you if you plan to buy a home or, if you are thinking about selling your home (or investment property) in the Chantilly, Centreville, or Western Fairfax area.

landscape1.jpgIn this post I want to share a simple idea, a reminder really, of something you already know.  However, you can “know” something and then again you can really “know” it.   One of the things about the “obvious” is that what is clearly obvious to one person may not even be on the mind of someone else.  This is certainly true in real estate.  Working with buyers and sellers virtually every day, some things are obvious to me, but are not apparent to others not immersed in this world.  And I respect that completely.  The world always looks different, depending on one’s vantage point.

Case in point:  a buyer’s first impression of a property.  It is usually the outside image of the house they have seen on the Internet, or the actual house they see when they drive by or visit.  Here’s my key point…the one I want you to take with you and hang on to if you are a potential seller.  It’s not all that profound, but it can have profound impact on your bottom line.

This first impression is of monumental importance.
In today’s market especially, you’d be well advised to
go the extra mile and make the outside appearance stunning.

The exception is the investor buyer who looks past outside appearances.  But this is not most buyers.  The more typical buyer will experience, at some conscious or unconscious level, an emotional response based on their first impression of how the property appears from the outside.   This first impression is keyed to the landscaping as well as the home’s exterior.  The “look and feel” of the other nearby properties plays into the equation as well.  As a seller, you probably can’t do a lot about the other properties, but you can do a great deal about your property.

landscape2.jpgSo far, I probably have not said anything you have not already heard and “know,’ but what I am trying to do is encourage you to deepen your “knowing” about just how critical it is to get your property’s exterior looking as absolutely stunning as possible before putting it on the market. Part of the psychology of this is to “see” the property as the prospective buyer will see it.  It looks very different to that buyer. They are about to make the biggest investment of their life, and at a time when they have all sorts of choices.  They are looking with eagle eyes…and seeing things that may not be obvious to you.

The good news is that you can do a lot of the outside enhancements yourself with sweat equity.  Trimming, clearing, mulching, edging, consistent mowing…all of the usually stuff.  I should mention that many sellers will do “enough.”  But some will do “more than enough.”  I personally think it is in sellers best interest to have their home stand out in all markets, but this market is definitely the time to do “more than enough.”

This includes a super job on all the basic stuff, and then doing some work to go to that next level of  “beautification”…for example, plantings to add color and lift the property’s emotional appear.

landscape31.jpgInvesting in professional help is also an option  Landscaping services can do everything from basic “clean and tidy” to full blown transformations. I completely understand the concerns about costs of such services, but in today’s market, a more basic question is:  “What is the cost of not having the appearance of our house be highly competitive?”

Even if you can emotionally “detach” from your home to critically take a second look at its outside appearance, it would be good to get other “eyeballs” on it.  Ask a few people whose judgment you trust to provide some objective assessment of first impressions.

To appreciate how important this will be if you plan to sell, let me mention that in this strong buyers market, buyers are as discriminating as I have seen in a long, long time.  Even when the property is priced competitively, there is still a first “stage setting” impression. Something like that initial gut level feeling you get when you meet someone for the first time.  Your efforts to manage this impression are a vital part of an effective overall seller strategy.

A few resources that may be of interest to you:  we have an excellent video on the whole topic of getting your home ready to sell. Send me an email if you’d like to take a look at this resource.  It is worth your time.  You can also visit the Seller Center on our web site (www.KathyONeal.com) and select from the current resources related to this topic.

And of course, if you want an honest assessment of your property’s “first impression,” just let me know. [This post by Kathy O’Neal]