The love shared on Valentine's Day warms my heart all month long.
It occurred to me that the steps for finding "The One" romantic love - looking for it, sealing the deal, etc - are the same as a buyer looking for the home of his or her dreams, and a seller looking for "The One" willing to pay a premium.
LOOKIN FOR LOVE: GETTING OUT THERE
Swipe left, swipe right. This is no different from "Thumbs Up" or "Pass" on the real estate sites. Love, like real estate, has moved online. And it's an online beauty contest out there. Looking pretty and standing out in a crowd has never been more critical.
"Who will be my wingman? Who's going to have my back?" Your wingman in the home arena is your real estate agent, who will help your home look its best in pictures and sound compelling with perfect web copy. Your wingman as a buyer will make your Board application shine.
But there are things your wingman will never do, like your hair. Time to bring in other professionals. Your personal stylist is akin to a stager. Your photographer needs to be top-of-the-line and not your neighbor with an iPhone. And you should consider Jane Austin, Nora Roberts or the equivalent as your web copy ghostwriter.
FIRST DATE: THE LOOK-SEE
Some potentials have identified you and now they want to check out the goods. Does the image match in reality, or is it one of those, "You look nothing like your photos (and not in a good way, either).
You wouldn't go on a date without just the right look and attitude. The same holds true for showing off your home. It needs to be:
-universally appealing (as opposed to taste specific)
-uncluttered, but not sterile
-the right color palate, with splashes of brightness
-without blemishes, hairs or other maintenance issues
You may choose to let down your hair, but (gasp!) not on the first date!
PEEPS PATROL: CHECK IT OUT
Congratulations! You're the one that makes another's heart sing - good looking enough without being out-of-your-league, kind, funny, loves animals - but you still need to pass due diligence. Do you pass the Google Test, and then the parent/best friend test?
Like having your own mechanic look under the hood when buying a pre-owned car, buyers will have their own peeps do the dirty work in real estate: a general home inspection, termite, title, etc. For coops and condos, attorneys and CPAs will inspect the building financials, review Board minutes and interview building management and staff.
This due diligence isn't one sided; the seller makes the buyer undergo similar scrutiny:
-pre-approved for financing?
-satisfactory debt-to-income ratios?
-otherwise Board worthy?
PUT A RING ON IT: SEAL THE DEAL
You both uncovered the warts and pimples, but it's true love. It's real. You choose to formalize the relationship. First comes the engagement and, after much planning and preparation, the wedding - with the exchange of vows and rings. Similarly, the real estate contract memorializes the terms of the agreement, and the closing finalizes things with the exchange of keys and money.
Unfortunately, both types of transactions often involve unnecessary drama, agita, egos, and other ugliness. Bridezillas? You ain't seen nothin! But, with the right guidance, whether from a great wedding planner or a Realtor, the drama can be minimized.
NOTHING LASTS FOREVER: MOVING ON, LITERALLY
It's a fact of life: circumstances change. Death, a new job, a change of finances, or a change of heart. Splitting up doesn't have to be messy, and with the right mindset and professional help, it shouldn't be. Similarly, selling the home that no longer fits might be sad, but with proper professional guidance, successful moves can be accomplished at the best price, timed right and with the least stress.
MATCHES MADE IN HEAVEN AND EARTH
We buy with our hearts and commit with our hands once we know in our minds that we've made the right choice. In real estate, our trusted professionals are like our home-front besties, helping to ensure that we make the best decisions among many options, that the "The One" is truly in our best interest, and that we are prepared for the big day. Choose wisely at every step, and let love show you the way. Happy Valentine's Month!