Last year, Creig Northrop of the Creig Northrop Team of Long and Foster Real Estate sold 30 homes to buyers before they even set foot inside the houses.
By using Matterport, a 3-D camera designed to provide high-definition virtual tours, people were able to feel like they were actually in the home.
“We are in an instant gratification society,” Northrop says. “If I am looking for a house, I want to get everything about that house before I probably see the house.” That’s a challenge for the agent. “You need to be able to make a buyer feel like they actually live there before they even go look at the house.”
Northrop recalls asking one of his buyers, “Don’t you want to see the house?” The buyer told him, “I see enough online. I just want to buy it.”
Northrop’s group recently partnered with Waze, the traffic and navigation app, so that nearby listings will pop up on the site. People may realize that a home closer to their job and in their price range is on the market, thanks to the advertisements. “Awareness is what is important,” he says. “You drive by properties all the time.”
Staging continues to be an important aspect of selling a home, too. “More people are understanding the value of staging and are willing to participate more,” says Kate Barnhart, a Keller Williams Realty agent.
Northrop agrees. “I think people are being more conscientious of getting staging done prior,” he says. In fact, homeowners looking to sell in two or three or even five years have already scheduled staging sessions with him. He is seeing more turnkey houses than ever before. On average, he says, those homes sell more quickly
What’s inside a house is important. Barnhart notes she is seeing a trend with kitchen appliances. In upscale listings, appliance colors are moving away from stainless steel toward bright hues, such as candy apple red and navy blue. She has also noticed more clients getting quartz countertops and shying away from the recent favorite, granite.
Northrop has seen accent walls recently, which often means a room has three walls painted a light shade and the fourth one painted a dark color. The “wow” factor is what buyers are looking for in 2018, Northrop says, “and you’ve got to go with that.”
“Houses need to be memorable now,” he says.
When it comes to patterns, lines ruled 2017. But this year, Barnhart sees circles being prominently featured on drapery, rugs and throw pillows. Having multi metals in a room is also gaining in popularity. “People are not sticking to only brushed nickel for finishes now,” she says. “I think they are trying to learn how to mix the metals, so you might have some brushed nickel and some brass or some pewter. I think mixed metals is going to work its way back in.”
Sometimes Northrop’s clients tell him they just remodeled their kitchen, so they’re now ready to sell. He encourages clients to remodel when possible, enjoying the house first, and then selling it to make some money back on their investment. “You are never going to fix a house up for a buyer you haven’t met yet,” Northrop says. “You have to focus on what makes you happy in the moment you want to start updating.”
Just as a client shouldn’t buy points on a loan and then sell them next day, a client shouldn’t remodel and immediately sell, he says.
Remodeling is important, though. “Buyers want less maintenance. They don’t want to come in and do a lot of stuff,” Northrop says.