Friday, January 4, 2008

another article regarding Levitt & Sons




In December, I posted a blog regarding housing starts approaching all time lows. You can read that post here.

The post mentioned a bankrupt builder, Levitt & Sons, going out of business after almost 80 years in business. The New York Times has just published an article on that very builder here. A sad story really. Just goes to show you what worked in 1950 may not work in the 2000's. We're all speculators, folks.

Some win, some lose.

clutter and its effect in a down market

When the conditions in your local real estate market are poor, even the little things can make a huge difference. I was showing a property just before the new year, and it seemed as though it met all of the requirements of my customers. They agreed, except for one glaring issue we could easily recognize the moment we entered the home: it was oozing with clutter.

This particular transaction was a rental, but it rings true for sales as well. My customers were instantly turned off by the amount of 'things' that were littered throughout the house. This was a fairly large house, over 2000 sq ft under air. It was so cluttered that we developed a temporary case of claustrophobia and whisked off to the next house.

My customers thought long and hard about making an offer on the cluttered mess in question, but decided against if for a number of reasons, the most glaring reason being if these homeowners were to become my customers landlords', were they going to treat the next 12 months as landlords like they did living in their complete train wreck of a home? The answer is probably. People can claim that they will change or make the situation better, but they rarely do. I often say that if we as humans sold the same efforts during the courtship as we do in the marriage, the divorce rate could approach zero. Instead we change, become lax, fall into bad habits, you get the point. I digress....

So the issue in question is clutter. The New York Times wrote an article recently about clutter as a human behavioral problem...you can read it here. My solution to the problem is basic but it could very well make the difference between you selling your home or someone making an offer on your neighbors home.

First, get rid of all of the religious trinkets that you have scattered about your home. You are moving after all, so get a head start and remove those items first. Believe it or not, we still live in a prejudice, single-minded society and having these items out can and will kill your deal. While I could comment all day and night about a nation of followers, that is not the basis of my blog.

Next, the family pictures. The nice thing about moving is even though you will never again own that home that created so many wonderful memories for you and your family, the memories go with you. When potential customers come to view your home it is imperative that you make every effort to make those customers feel as if that is THEIR home. Pictures all over the fridge and walls are cute but it blocks a fundamental personal feeling of potential ownership when customers start gazing at the photos. Remember...that home is essentially THEIR home now, not YOURS. Make those customers feel at home. Trust me when I say this works.

Lastly, any other trinkets of any kind....box them up immediately and get them ready to move. The feeling of claustrophobia is real, and it can make your home feel a lot smaller than it may actually be. When I bring customers by, I want them focused on where they're going to be placing furniture, how much fun the kids will have in the backyard, so on and so forth, and not the Blendtec Vs Vitamix war going on in the kitchen. If all they can think about is all the junk laying around, they immediately associate your home negatively. And unless these customers I bring by are interior decorators, they rarely see past the mess.

I don't think I need to speak about how the home needs to be spotless also, especially if you are reading this from a suffering local market (which represents the majority) but I have heard and seen it all these days. So get to cleaning! Oh, and while you're at it, lower that price!!