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  • Writer's pictureJamie Koehler

Simple Doesn't Sell : 4 Projects To Charm Buyers

Sellers – I have news for you. Listing your Baltimore home coated in nothing but neutral colors and simple finishes doesn’t sell. While many sellers have heard that neutral colors provide a blank slate for prospective buyers and allow your home to appeal to the masses, an overly neutral and simple approach is leaving today’s buyers in the Baltimore Area with a feeling of underwhelm. But don’t worry – I’ve researched what is attracting buyers and getting homes to sell in seven days or less and I’m ready to help! In this article you will find four relatively inexpensive weekend projects that make an impact.

I’ve been in the Baltimore real estate industry since 2008. I specialize in representing sellers in the Greater Baltimore Area. The best chance you, as a seller, have at getting not only the best price possible, but also the best terms possible, is to hit the nail on the head with your listing, attract a swarm of buyers quickly who then compete with each other for your home. A major factor in achieving this is understanding how to present your home to buyers. It needs to possess some personality while still being approachable. I’ll share what you can do.

Too Neutral Is Too Boring

Back to the all-neutral approach - a recent example - a colleague and friend of mine called me a few weeks ago asking for my input on his recent listing on a fantastic block in Canton in Baltimore City, which hadn’t gotten any showings in its more than two weeks on the market. It was priced appropriately to similar recent sales and even had a parking pad. It was nicely remodeled, but everything from the cabinets, to the counter tops, to the bathroom tile, to the carpet was a neutral color. Furthermore, there were no real “wow” factors.

Make Your Home Showcase Worthy

Before I was a dedicated sellers’ agent, I also served buyers. In fact, I still do a few buyer-side transactions each year to keep myself fresh on the buyer mindset and the Baltimore real estate market, from their perspective. When I ask buyers what they are most looking forward to after closing, the most common answer I get is that they can’t wait to host a housewarming party, the next holiday gathering, or something of that nature. And thus, they are looking for a home that is truly worthy of being shown off. I find that overly simple finishes and a completely neutral color scheme just doesn’t make an impression on them.

What Features Are Contributing To Homes Being Sold In 7 Days Or Less In The Baltimore Area?

How do you know the below features work in selling homes in the Greater Baltimore Area? To back this list up, I did my homework. I looked at homes that sold over $250,000 in Baltimore City from 1/1/2024 to today 3/26/2024. Why over $250,000? This weeds out most investment opportunities and homes that need significant work. There were 508 homes that sold during this time frame over $250,000 and the average ‘days on market’ was 38. Then I looked at homes from that batch that sold in 7 days or less. There were 156. Of the 156, 13 didn’t have interior pictures so I removed them from the list, which left me with 143 homes to review that sold for over $250,000 between 1/1/2024 and 3/26/2024 in 7 days or less. 79% of those homes featured at least two of the four features I’m about to list below as your weekend projects. Simply put, these finishes sell!

#1 - Add A Pop of Color

Overall neutral is still a good thing, but I recommend that sellers break it up with a pop of color. The good news? Paint is cheap! There are several easy ways to bring a few hints of color into your home without going overboard. I recommend painting an accent wall in a living room, dining room, or bedroom. Or paint a half bathroom. I’ve also seen sellers paint the inside of the front or back doors, the cabinets in the kitchen, a bathroom vanity, even the risers to the stairs to bring in just a bit of color. If you are going to paint a few areas, keep the colors in the same color family and be careful what colors you use. I find that blues and greens are the most widely accepted by buyers.

#2 - Accent With Tile

Add a backsplash in your kitchen and/or bathroom. I recently had a seller run tile in just a section of the bathroom, vertically behind the sink and mirror and all the way up to the ceiling. It added some real “wow” factor. As with the paint color, don’t go too wild – pick a tile that’s either more subdued in color but has an interesting configuration like herringbone or a honeycomb pattern or go for a slightly stronger color in a simpler square or rectangular tile pattern. Make sure the tile color is in the same color family as any pops of color you add with paint. I do recommend hiring a professional tile trades person as laying tile is not easy and done poorly can look very sloppy.

#3 - Create Character

Separate yourself from simple, builder-grade homes. If your home is lacking in character, add some. Two easy ways to do this are to add built-in shelving or floating shelves on a blank wall in the kitchen or bathroom, or in a bare niche in your home. This provides a place for the buyer (and your stager) to decorate and add some personality.

#4 - Make Your Outdoor Space A Show-Stopper

Aside from some grid-locked City homes and condos, most homes have some sort of outdoor space – a covered front porch, a rear patio, or a rear deck. If you don’t but have space on your lot, I strongly recommend adding a nice retreat to get some fresh air. It doesn’t have to be complicated – hire a contractor to pour a simple concrete patio, or even create a space that you can fill with small beach pebbles and arrange a fire pit and some outdoor seating in that area. Dress up the outdoor space for the photos and showings. Add a bench, dining table, Adirondack chairs, fire pit,  hammock, umbrella, string lights, plants, etc. Offering a space for prospective buyers to enjoy the outside of the home will go a long way, but you have to overtly set the stage for them.

Inventory Is Growing, Differentiate Your Home

In the Greater Baltimore Area, inventory is growing and buyers are presented with more options. It’s important to differentiate your home (in a good way) and create a space that prospective buyers feel is special and truly worth showing off. A few simple tweaks can elevate your home’s appeal, boost showing activity, and ultimately help you get a sale done quicker and for more money than if you leave it neutral and simple.

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