Instead of “location, location, location,” home buyers prefer move-in-ready homes


by Todd Lewys
If you’re thinking about selling your home, you may want to pay close attention to a recent survey.
The Century 21 Canada and RONA National Home Buyer Preferences Survey, conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, delivered some very interesting news. 
The age-old real estate adage, “location, location, location,” may need to be rephrased according to the results of the survey. In fact, Canadians have ranked location behind being able to buy a home that’s in move-in-ready condition. 
The survey reported that 25 per cent of respondents made a move-in-ready home their No. 1 priority. Next was location at 23 per cent, and then having money remaining to spend on personal expenses was also at 23 per cent. 
The desire to be able to acquire a move-in-ready home is so strong among Canadians, according to the survey, that most are willing to sacrifice being able to afford a car, a shorter commute to work, or being able to live in a location with a community culture that fits them.
That’s intriguing news for vendors in Manitoba, where a more balanced market is making selling homes more challenging than at, say, this time last year, when sellers were at more of a decided advantage. Now, vendors not only have to deal with less favourable market conditions, but with the quandary of just how much they need to put into their home to make it move-in-ready.
 Of course, enlisting the services of a REALTOR® is the first step in determining what should and should not be done to a home to make it as turnkey as possible. 
That said, vendors need to heed the advice of their REALTOR® to maximize the saleability of their home.
REALTOR® Garry Hirsch said that doesn’t always happen.
“I recently had a client who wanted me to come to their home to give them advice on what areas to upgrade to make their home as attractive as possible to potential buyers,” he explained. “I said I’d be glad to come over and do that, but for some reason, it didn’t happen, and I didn’t see them for four weeks.”
Upon visiting the client’s home a month later, Hirsch was dismayed by what they had done to their home.
“There are certain things you do and certain things you don’t,” cautioned Hirsch. “They had done things like spend money to put new insulation in their attic, re-do the driveway and re-do the weeping tile. They also had the fascia and soffit done on the roof, when I would have told them that the old ones were fine.”
Had the client taken the time to listen to Hirsch, suffice it to say, the to-do list would have been significantly different.
 “Basically, you don’t do things like the attic, driveway and weeping tile. For example, the money spent on the attic could have been spent on updating the bathroom. And instead of doing the driveway, they would have been better off  putting in a new furnace,” he said. 
“And the money spent on the weeping tile would have been better spent on updating the kitchen and putting in new flooring. 
“But, they didn’t,” added Hirsch.
The result?
“The home took far longer to sell than it should have,” said Hirsch. “I had another home not far away that wasn’t anywhere near as solid a home that sold for over list because the owner had spent money on the right upgrades. 
“You have to be very, very realistic about what you do to your home before selling.”
Consequently, the burning question here is this: With both exterior and interior features being important, how do you tackle the most important ones without spending yourself silly?
Hirsch said the answer is a simple one.
“Well, I’ve yet to meet a client who’s sold a house,” he said. “Maybe some have, but I’d wager that most haven’t. On the other hand, I’ve sold hundreds of homes over the course of my career. I think I’ve got a good handle on what needs to be done to a home, and what doesn’t need to be done. 
“The bottom line is an experienced REALTOR® knows what to do,” he added. “Vendors should listen and do what we tell them to do. If my client had, he would have saved himself a substantial amount of time and money, and his home would have sold much sooner.”