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What Are House Buyers Looking For?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 16 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Trying to sell a home in a stagnating, or falling, real estate market is not easy. Everyone expects prices to go down so buyers are reluctant to commit to a property which may be worth substantially less by the time the sale completes. However, home buying goes on and properties still get sold.

Anyone who is about to put their home on the market should start by trying to look at it objectively. They should stand back, put themselves in the place of prospective purchasers and look at it afresh. What would they think if they were considering buying – especially in a market where there is no guarantee that prices will go up? That stain on the bedroom carpet that has been ignored for years, the flaking paint on the front door, the wobbly banister. Anything that might put off a buyer who is already anxious about the property market should be rectified before viewings start.

Broadly speaking there are two types of house buyers: property investors and people looking for a home.

What Property Investors are Looking For

Property investors will always be looking for a way of making a good, quick profit. They want to buy at a discounted price, make quick and easy renovations and sell the property at a price that will cover their costs and return a healthy profit. Property investors will ideally be looking for a solid property which has intrinsic value and is in a popular area but needs “modernisation”. If this sounds like your house, and you are prepared to take a pragmatic view on the price at which you will sell, there should be buyers out there, even in a difficult property market.

What Home Buyers are Looking For

Many home buyers would be delighted to buy a property like the one described above – if only there were any left after the property investors had snapped them all up. Properties in established areas will always do better than those in areas that were once “up-and-coming” - before the market hit the buffers. People who need to sell have to ensure that their property appeals to those in need of a home.

People Want Clean Houses

The first thing anyone should do before trying to sell their house is to give it a good clean. If buyers have doubts about entering into an uncertain property market a dirty, smelly house is unlikely to allay their fears. Getting out the vacuum cleaner and polishing cloths and clearing away the clutter will help to give a good impression and enable prospective purchasers to picture themselves living there. Kitchens, bathrooms and windows should all be gleaming.

If it’s Broken – Fix It

Broken panes of glass, fences, doors, light-fittings... the list is endless. Whilst the damage may only be cosmetic it can make people wonder what is going on behind the scenes. Again, if buyers are being cautious they will be looking for the slightest excuse not to commit to a property. Spending a few pounds mending fixtures and fittings before viewings start could make the difference between a fast sale and no sale at all.

Environmental Concerns of House Buyers

A growing number of home buyers will want to know how a house rates environmentally. If a property has a good eco-rating this should be flagged up to any prospective purchasers. If the property is likely to score badly in this area consideration may be given to any cost-effective measures that can be implemented before the property goes on the market.

Give Buyers Freedom When they Come to View

If prospective buyers are crowded by the homeowner while they are looking around it will make them feel uncomfortable. They may even wonder if the seller has something to hide. Home buyers should feel free to have a good look at storage space, try out the water pressure or see if the doors creak. If buyers feel relaxed in a property they are more likely to make an offer.

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