One of my guilty pleasures is hanging out with my mom and watching a couple episodes of House Hunters on HGTV – not having cable at home, I don’t watch it often, but when I catch a show, it’s with a sense of anthropological fascination.
The set-up if pretty simple: You meet a couple who are in the market for a new home. As the viewer, we get to tour three of the properties alongside the couple, and from these three they choose their new home. There is always an agent twittering about. The couple always seems to have two different sets of values in what they are looking for in a new residence. The last scene is always the follow-up tour, where you have the opportunity to see them after they’ve moved into their new home.
What’s compelling is seeing the different properties, because no matter what the budget, there are always plusses and minuses to each home. You get to peek into decorating styles, regional architectural differences, and into the negotiation skills of a couple. It’s formulaic, but fascinating.
Every single time they choose the wrong house!
One of the biggest obstacles that keeps people from choosing the better property is almost always one of the easiest to remedy: the paint colors.
Whether it’s a poor choice in exterior trim paint or wall colors that are too enthusiastically “unique”, shoppers pass. Even in they save money, even if the structure is superior – they are not able to see past the surface.
The other thing that sways decisions is the aspirational elements. Stone counter tops (even if the kitchen layout is crappy), fenced yard (even if the yard itself is tiny) – basically the decorative details that don’t solve the structural issues.
Create a list of features you want. Dream big, leave no ideas out. Really think about what you want. Write it down, you’ll be surprised at how detailed you can get. The more you write, the more clarity comes about.
Know which of these features are negotiable and which are concrete
Think about your lifestyle, and choose the property that best fits how you live. For example, if you have a young child, what is the flow from kitchen to playroom to backyard? If your home is chopped up, how will that affect how you realistically use a space?
Understand your partner. Descriptive words may be inadequate to understanding their style. What if you want “modern” and they are more attracted to “traditional”? It may turn out to be about simple things like painted baseboard trim, or new faucets in an older home that satisfies their wish list.
Keep in mind that it is a lot easier to replace carpet, change window blinds, and repaint than it is to move walls. Don’t be swayed by the wrong features.
As a seller, know that buying a new home is as much an emotional as well as logical decision, and look at your house with a stranger’s eyes to see what a prospective buyer will see when they come through your property.
Robin Daly is the 3rd generation owner of Daly's Paint & Decorating stores. She is passionate about supporting people with their home improvement projects, loves how color can transform a space and knows a thing or two about how to get things done.