Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What buyers look for when viewing

I am indebted to an American website (apartmenttherapy.com) which conducted a survey on what prospective buyers look for in a property during viewings - and what owners should or shoult not do as a result of these findings. They were based on viewer's responses to typical 'home search' reality programmes on TV, similar to those appearing in UK and in France on channel M6 and hosted by a very experienced French estate agent Stephan Plaza.

In the American survey there were several gripes about how the programme could be 'faked' and the responses edited. That said, and in the comments that followed on the apartmen therapy website, the big debate seemed to be whether to home stage or not. In the French programme, Stephan Plaza is a firm believer in home staging, arguing that the majority of buyers (borne out by yet another recent survey) prefer to buy a property that appears ready to move into. Buyers simply want to put down their suitcases and get on with living.

This view was echoed in the US TV programmes but commentators argued that many would-be purchasers cocentrated so much on 'cosmetic' aspects of the property being viewed, and neglected to check out possible structural defects, the state of the electrics/plumbing/heating systems (all expensive to put right), or external aspects such as a noisy neighbourhood (main roads, schools, bars, restaurants, shops etc), let alone discovering - too late! - the neighbours from hell living next door.

There seemed to be considerable confusion about what could be put right: few it seems accepted the difference between changing the wallpaper or the colour of the carpet compared with altering a poor physical layout or rooms that were simply too small.

There are probably as many opinions as there are choices, but in my personal experience that most properties will (eventually) seel if they are presented in a clean and tidy state, and those annoying little maintenance and repair jobs have been attended to. Owners are doing themselves a disservice if the front door bell does not work, the gate is hanging off its hinges, the property is cluttered and untidy, there are obvious signs of pets, and rooms (particularly kitchens and bathroooms) are dirty.

While buyers are may be spoilt for choice, they may never find their ideal house even after months or  years of viewing. Unless they are looking for a second home or moving to France for the first time, many buyers move out of necessity (work, growing family, aging parents, budget etc) rather than choice. My advice is generally to change what you can and learn to live with what you can't.