There are lots of different buyers looking for properties this spring each with a different motivate, but they essentially fall into two categories – those looking for a fixer upper and those looking for a home that they can move into on the day of settlement and live happily ever after.

The ones looking for a fixer upper are willing to put the elbow grease into renovating the property because they want to build sweat equity into the property.  What they don’t want however is to pay top dollar for the property.

But…. the majority of prospective buyers are not looking for fixer uppers or even houses that have not been updated in decades.  F0or the most part, they want something that –  even if it doesn’t have the latest bells and whistles – at least doesn’t scream 1980s.  Or 1990s.  Or even 2000 in some cases.

They want to move in and get on with their busy lives.

On more than one occasion, I have had Buyers look at houses which, on paper, were absolutely perfect for them –  layout, number of bedrooms, prized neighborhood, beautifully landscaped yard, perfect price – only to shake their heads “no” and keep looking.

Why?  It varies, but sometimes it can be something as seemingly insignificant as paint color. 

And while that may seem like a silly reason to walk away from a great house, well, they’re busy people with busy lives, often with equally busy children, and demanding jobs.  Often they are relocating from another state, which just makes something as “easy” as having the house painted seem like an overwhelming task when there are a thousand other things going on.

To some folks, the phrase “it’s only paint,” makes it sound like painting is akin to a day at the park, while for others, it’s not that easy. At all.  It can mean time off from work to meet painters, get estimates, then pick the paint color – and even picking the right paint color can be a daunting task for someone who has little or no experience in doing so.

So, while some folks love the extra value they find in an out of date house that they can make all their own, who have the time and energy to find and manage multiple contractors, while picking out paint colors, granite, tile, carpet and appliances, not to mention a number of other items, not everyone has the luxury of time or the interest in doing so.

What’s the message for home sellers, then? 

Simple. If you don’t plan on updating or making basic repairs to your house before putting it on the market, then price it accordingly.  And don’t forget, buyers will mentally add a “hassle factor” when looking at a house with a lot of deferred maintenance or which requires a lot of updating. 

With interest rates so low, it doesn’t cost much per month for a buyer to up their budget and buy the house which already has the updates and neutral colors they want. 

Many sellers have told me they don’t want to “hassle” with new carpet, new paint or deferred maintenance items.  And I totally understand that.

Of course, buyers don’t want the “hassle” either and will often pass on a house that may be perfect for them if there wasn’t so much work involved in getting it the way they want it.

The only way to overcome that objection?  Unfortunately for sellers, the answer is quite simply, price. And often the price acceptable to buyers is going to include a substantial premium for their time.

Just something to consider when you are thinking about putting your house on the market.