According to Militarybases.com, there are 10 military bases in the Washington DC area. Thousands of military members move every year into this area. While the bulk of the moves are in the summertime, a large chunk still move in the winter time. So what can homeowners do or expect to capture this population? Prepare your home to sell and show the best features.
Did you know:
Military members rely on the Internet to get started?
First they start on the Internet just like 90% of other buyers do. They find homes they are interested in by looking at the pictures. If the pictures show empty rooms, they can’t get a good perspective. As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words so give them something to look at. You want to entice them to see the home. Most won’t know the area at all and will have to do some digging. Make it easy for them.
The military member only gets a week to come out and view the houses they are interested in. It is a whirlwind tour and basically they need to make a decision on a house within 3-4 days. That is not much time to decide on a house that you will live in for the next 2 years or so.
These quick decisions can be equated to a round of speed dating. If there is no “click” with the buyer, they will move onto the next house. Your home has to stand out on its own through pictures and in person. You do that with staging.
So how do you get the piece of pie?
- Look at your curb appeal. Yes your trees have lost their leaves by now but are the leaves raked up? Are the flower beds mulched and pruned down? Are the dead flowers removed in those pots? If there is snow, are the sidewalks shoveled?
- You can still have holiday décor up but not like the Griswolds. Some outdoor pictures look best at dusk with the interior lights on with some holiday bows. Try night pictures to show off any landscaping lights you may have. This can be used to your advantage.
- The interior needs to be clutter free and clean. This can be the hardest thing for a homeowner. But the less stuff you have out, the less stuff you have to clean up each day. Remove any excess items into an offsite storage unit. If you put your home on the market after the holidays, put the holiday décor in the storage unit because you won’t need it.
- Use warm colors in accessories such as red or orange to help brighten the space. Throw pillows or blankets, lamp shades or décor on the fireplace all need to exude warmth in the winter season. As a military veteran and someone who has had to move in the winter, I know all about finding a home quickly. I remember visiting about 10 house per day for 3 straight days and it is really hard to keep that all straight in your mind. Make each room special to draw in your target buyer.
- Flowers can still be used in the winter time to stage a home. Calla lilies are beautiful tall flowers you can use in a master bath or gerbera with bright colors can warm up a living room space or foyer.
- If you can, add some picture of nearby parks or points of interest in your listing such as the nearest mall or grocery store. This is especially helpful in Northern Virginia since towns such as Reston and Vienna are set up differently. When you are not used to a community with a “hidden shopping center” in the woods, it is nice to get that information. One would hope a military member is working with a real estate agent to tell them this, but there are no guarantees.
- If you decide to rent your home, military members will consider renting versus buying. If they know they will only be here for 2 years, that option may be a better one for their situation. Even when renting your home, you still need to stage it.
- Military by owner website. My last home was sold to another military member because I listed it in militarybyowner.com. Even though I had an agent to sell my home, my listing on MBO got my house sold. Some real estate agents have accounts that are part of their marketing strategy. Ask your agent if they market to that audience. And by the way, it was the pictures that sold our house. The buyers flew down from California to New Mexico before the move to come see the home before putting an offer on it.
Now that you know a little bit more on how military members think when it comes to buying a home, use that to help market your home. In the end, the only thing you will regret is not having done it sooner.