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Five Ps of Selling Houses

1. Planning:

Know Your Target Buyers

Think about your neighborhood and the buyers purchasing homes near your property. Are these home buyers purchasing their first home or moving up? This is important to your marketing and design plan, since the psychological needs of first-time home buyers differ from those of moving-up buyers, in that first-time home buyers are seeking to control their own environment by owning instead of renting. These buyers' psychological needs include:

- Safety and security
- Sense of place or connection
- Comfort
- Self-control

Moving-up buyers often enjoy these benefits, as well, but are looking for a larger home with more amenities for their comfort, self-esteem, and feelings of prestige. The needs of empty-nesters and retirees also vary, but they're generally looking for solutions for making their lives easier.

Once you determine who your potential buyers will be, you can make improvements to your home that will attract them.

Selling Season

Calculate approximately how much time will be needed to get your home ready for sale, and then add on a few extra days for unexpected delays. Estimate the length of your selling season -- the time of year you'll be marketing your home. This time period establishes the basis for your decorating choices and helps plan your color scheme.

Use cool colors -- blue, green, gray -- to sell during spring and summer. Use warm colors -- yellow, red, maroon -- to sell during fall and winter.

Think about your selling season and your local climate when choosing colors, patterns, fabrics, textures, and decorating details. The selling season and climatic conditions relate to your overall design plan. Try to envision your final product, whether it's a cooling desert oasis or a warm, inviting haven.

Consider your target market and your selling season and then make a list of changes to make.

2. Preparation:

The first step of preparation includes removal of non-essentials. Pack everything that clutters the potential buyer's vision so that they clearly see their future home. Consider selling or storing large pieces of furniture.

The next step is purchasing materials such as paint and plants. Make lists of items needed and specify features, remembering your target market and selling season. (To save money, check for returned items in home improvement stores, or find out if there's a Restore, Habitat for Humanity thrift store in your area, because they sell paint and fixtures. You can donate your own unwanted appliances, light fixtures, and doors to them, as well.)

The final step in preparation is the implementation of your changes. You can either do all the work yourself or hire professionals. Think about how much money you'll be making, and then evaluate whether it's better for you to pay to have the work done. If you decide to do the work yourself, home improvement centers offer free flyers with directions for completing most projects, as well as free classes.

3. Presentation:

Presentation, or staging, is the fun part of selling your house. Once you've packed all personal knickknacks, take a look at your house, as if through the eyes of a stranger. If the space feels too empty, add plants to bring nature indoors. Use delicate green ferns, spiky gray foliage, cut flowers, and tree branches from your garden to support the desired emotional atmosphere. Don't forget to support the buyer's sense of smell, too; natural essential oils, mixed with water and sprayed into the air, work better than chemicals because of potential allergy problems. (Buyers won't buy a home that makes them sneeze.)

4. Previewing:

Previewing, or showing your home to potential buyers or real estate agents is the most important phase. For safety, avoid potential problems by asking someone to help you. Send small children and annoying pets to a friend's house. When showing your home, always stand behind the buyers so they can see the home without having you block their vision.

5. Purchasing:

Purchasing, or selling is the final phase in selling your home. If you're not an experienced investor, hire a real estate agent or an attorney to handle the sales contract. Many investors write up simple contracts and then have their escrow agent draw up the sales and closing documents.

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

Professor Jeanette Fisher, author of Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars, Joy to the Home, and other books teaches Real Estate Investing and Design Psychology. For more articles, tips, reports, newsletters, and sales flyer template, see

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