Buyers today are just the same as buyers of days gone by . . . only different.
Some things will never change. Buyers have always looked to real estate to embrace the American Dream; they still want to have independence from a landlord and to control their own destiny and living environment. “Home” will always be a symbol of stability and comfort and ownership will continue to be seen as a mark of success.
What makes the new buyer different is their access to information. The information age has forever changed how people look for property. A generation ago, prospective homeowners drove through neighborhoods looking for an open house sign or picked up a copy of the local glossy real estate magazine when they wanted to see what was available.
Like everything else, real estate is now just a mouse click away, with the estimated number of buyers that begin their home search online now exceeding 90 percent! Today’s homebuyers are the first to have MLS systems at their fingertips and they are hungry for massive amounts of details on available properties. Because they have such incredible access to information they can immerse themselves in data and become well-schooled on not only what properties are available, but also on pricing, schools, conveniences and much more. They know how long each available property has been on the market and how it compares to others based on dollars per square foot.
What does that mean for Sellers?
The behaviors of the new buyer have had a huge impact on what sellers need to do to maximize their sale results. There was a time when putting a sign on the lawn and placing a listing into MLS accomplished most of the marketing effort. That definitely doesn’t cut it any more. Because buyers are investigating their prospective purchases so thoroughly, properties need to appear attractive before the buyer ever walks through the door! Buyers will never see the inside of your house if there aren’t beautiful images of it available (and lots of them). Where a vacant house with a barren yard may once have been accepted as a home with potential, the new buyer will smartly spend their time looking at well-staged homes with fresh sod at the same price. This has translated into a necessity for sellers to spend more dollars then ever before on preparing their home to look its best.
The demands of an organized buyer have also lead to a need for advanced organization on the part of sellers. If sellers fail to complete what Realtors now commonly refer to as a “disclosure package” they have left themselves open to a negotiated rebate from the buyer. The package includes their completed state-required disclosures, along with “pre-sale” pest and home inspection reports. Sellers who wing it leave themselves vulnerable to demands for cash credits (based on the new discoveries). The work in advance of marketing is every bit as critical as the active marketing process itself.
Yes, the new buyer is just the same as the old one, but how they operate has definitely changed. Smart sellers need to adjust to the new environment or leave the proverbial money on the table.
The trend won’t be changing any time soon:
- Housing demand should rise over the next decade – the number of Californians in their late 20s and early 30s will increase by about 25 percent as children of Baby Boomers reach prime age for establishing households.
- The median resident age in San Francisco (38.5) is already well below statewide figures (45.6).
- The San Francisco Metropolitan Area ranks #3 in highest homeowner income and #1 in home values.