Captivating Discerning Buyers in a Seller's Market

Recently, I have had several conversations with successful real estate agents about specific properties that are not selling even in a low-inventory seller's market. It would seem that in this situation, homes would sell regardless of their condition - making the need for certain long-standing real estate recommendations, such as staging and updates, unnecessary. However, given that some homes are sitting well past the average number of days on market, it would seem that other factors, such as price and condition, are influencing buyers' attitudes toward certain properties.

 In today's market, buyers are serious and discerning - there ae very few "tire kickers". Those who have chosen to pursue a purchase of a home in the middle of a pandemic and political chaos are thoughtful. They are most likely making a change in response to economic or cultural conditions. Their reasons may include a job change, a need for more (or less) space, family dynamics, such as aging parents, or taking advantage of the attractive low interest rates. Whatever the reason for purchasing a home now, they want to make a wise and well-investigated decision.

 Buyers are choosing their home carefully and are not necessarily willing to overpay, even though home prices have increased. They are looking for opportunities that will allow them to make the most of their money. While on the other side, sellers are pushing the envelope with sales prices, thinking that now is the optimum time to maximize their sale. With older homes in excellent condition and with a relatively up-to-date with kitchen and bathroom, a higher end sales price is likely achievable. However, homes that lack updating and have other issues that buyers may find problematic, such as an awkward floor plan will likely sit on the market unnoticed. Today's buyer is discerning, looking for a new or updated, move-in ready home at top dollar or an opportunity home at a bargain price.

 What can be done to captivate a discerning buyer in 2021? Here are some suggestions to make your home relevant in this changing market and command a higher sales price:

 Paint with on-trend neutral colors

       Updated flooring

       Modern kitchen finishes including countertops and appliances

       Bathroom updates that are fresh and on-trend

       New Lighting Fixtures

       Professional staging that adds value

       Premier photography to include 3D Tours and floor plans


It's no secret that new paint is attractive to a buyer to help them feel like they will not have to invest in painting right away. Neutral colors are always best - for example, a gray, white, or cream. Regardless of whether a buyer may paint a different color later, fresh paint is helpful way to add perceived value.

 Updated Flooring

The costs associated with updating flooring can be pricey. Whether refinishing hardwoods, replacing tile or carpet, or installing all new flooring, this expense may be a tough decision to make if you are selling. Buyers will appreciate that floors are clean and new, and just like paint, it relieves them of the burden of doing that themselves after the home is purchased.

 Modern Kitchens

Today's buyers are comprised of 30% millennials with minds shaped by social media images, including beautiful new kitchens that boast of all the conveniences and looks of the modern age. Leaving a dated kitchen to chance in a hot real estate market could mean a lower offer and longer time on market. New appliances, freshly painted or new cabinets, quartz countertops and new plumbing fixtures could help produc a significant return on investment, as most buyers cringe at the thought of a kitchen remodel.

 Bathroom Updates

Likewise, the thought of updating an entire bathroom makes most buyers retreat and turn to the next property, not only for the hassle, but also for the costs associated with bathroom renovations. Making these updates prior to the sale can justify a higher asking price.

 New Lighting Fixtures

Trends in lighting have changed significantly, even in the last few years. Lighting is generally a low-cost update that can have dramatic impact in how a house presents to buyers. Sophisticated lighting does not have to be expensive but provides the "wow" factor buyers will appreciate and look for in a home.

 Professional Staging

A well-staged home stands out on the market. Staging professionals are trained in the art of interior design and the science of psychology behind a buyer's perception of a property. Homes that have the benefit of quality staging are more likely to sell faster and at a higher list price.

 Premier Photography to include Floor Plans & 3D Tours

Photos are EVERYTHING. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, online photography is likely the single biggest driver in real estate marketability. Most buyers are looking at homes many, many times online -- exploring specific details and learning everything they can about a home BEFORE making an appointment for a showing. Even the smallest details in a photo can make or break a buyer's willingness to view a property in person. Floor plans and 3D Tours also help a buyer to understand a home's flow and function.

 Today's smart and savvy home buyer is not only in search of a home that fits their budget, but also a home that meet their needs for a move-in ready home with updated appeal. Sellers should be mindful of the potential buyers' wants in order for their home to sell quickly at their desired list price.

 Lorelie Brown, M.A., CPRES, CID is the Owner of Showhomes Charleston in Charleston, SC.  RESA-PRO member, an HSRA-Elite Member and HSRA Elite Leadership. She is passionate about the power of home staging and has staged over $300 million in real estate.