Monday, October 29, 2012

How Selling Your Home is Like Playing Baseball, Major League Style!


In the movie, Moneyball, Brad Pitt's
character learns that to win
at baseball, he has to
pay attention to the numbers. 
I love baseball. It’s the only sport I watch on television.

Baseball is leisurely, unlike basketball. It’s gentlemanly, unlike football. It’s quiet, unlike NASCAR. It’s complicated, unlike tennis. What’s not to love?

Watching the World Series games last week, pondering my fascination with the game, and thinking – as always – of home selling, I spotted some similarities.  

Teamwork is Essential

Although this blog concentrates on DIY home staging, there are times when you need to have someone else do it,  times when you need to call in pros to get a specific job done. 

Say you want to paint your tall stairwell, but you don’t even own a ladder. 

Maybe you need to replace the plumbing behind the shower stall, but you wouldn’t know where to begin. 

Or the garage needs to be rewired to meet electrical code, and only an electrician has the right license. 

Or you need a new roof, but you’re not going up there!

Each member of a baseball team specializes in whatever his position calls for. Each one is an expert. Even though there’s less apparent teamwork in baseball than sports like hockey or football, don’t be fooled. Each team member is a specialist, but one who also supports and cooperates with his teammates.

When you're staging your own home, it's important to know when to call in an expert if that’s what it takes to get your home in shape.  
  
Devil's in the Details

Yogi Berra, famous Yankee catcher, is known for his
crazy logic. He explains, "Baseball is ninety percent physical.
The other half is mental." 
Both baseball and staging look simple when done right. But look more closely and you’ll see they both depend on subtleties that guarantee success.

One good pitcher can determine the outcome of a game, just as curb appeal can determine whether buyers want to view your home’s interior. 

One fumbled catch can lead to a home run for the other team, just the way pet odors can be a deal-breaker for a home on the market.   

Think like a Major League player. Take your staging seriously. Don’t be like the neighbor a friend of mine described to me last week, who said “Why should I paint for the next owner?”

Step  up to the plate, and tend to the details, so your home is the one that stands above the competition.  

Preparation Makes All the Difference

Teams that get to the World Series don’t get there by chance. They work all year to become the best athletes they can.

Selling a home shouldn’t be a last minute decision. It should be part of a plan.

Although some will disagree with me, I think any homeowner needs to be aware that some day she’ll want to sell her home. Or her heirs will.

A common phrase is, “I’ll never move,” but statistically, Americans stay in their homes an average of just seven years. Lifestyle preferences change, families grow bigger or smaller, jobs relocate, finances force people to shift priorities. 

In other words, whatever you do to your home while you are living there is going to affect your selling price eventually. Never remodel a home in such a way that its market value will be reduced.

Don't postpone routine maintenance until the effects snowball into major repairs. 

Leo Durocher, the legendary Baseball Hall of Famer, said, 
"There are only five things you can do in baseball – 
run, throw, catch, hit, and hit with power."
It's All About the Numbers

No sport relies more on statistics than baseball. 

Wins and losses, batting averages, on-base-percentages, runs-batted-in, slugging percentage – that’s just the beginning. 

Team managers, owners, coaches, fans, sportswriters and gamblers all rely on complex math to predict probabilities and make decisions.

Similarly, when you’re selling your home, it helps to have good grasp of the numbers.

Have you priced it competitively? 

Do you know what your monthly carrying costs are (mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities, maintenance)?  

If you are negotiating with a prospective buyer, do you know in advance how flexible can you be with financing options to shape a win/win agreement? 

Patience Is Your Friend

Baseball is a test of nerves and strategy. When your home is for sale, waiting for a buyer to show up can be difficult.

Although we’ve all heard stories of people who’ve sold their homes the day they came on the market, I sometimes ask myself, “Did they price it too low?”

Even when you are impatient, a prospective buyer shouldn’t know this. That’s why I tell people not to pile moving boxes in the garage or spare bedroom. It looks like you’re in a hurry to get out of there, rather than living in a home you love. Strategy.

One baseball cliche is "Hurry to lose, slow down to win."  And that’s good advice for a home seller.

Chance Plays A Major Role

Once you’ve staged your home, using the skills and resources you have, you have to accept the fact that fate takes over. You can’t call all the shots.

Sometimes, sheer coincidence steps in. A friend tells a friend who tells a friend about your home. It’s just what she’s looking for!

Or a couple out driving neighborhoods looking for real estate signs, turns onto your street, and Bingo!

Albert Pujols, a two-time World Series champ, and three-time Most Valuable Player winner, said, “This game is really crazy. Nobody can understand it, and there are a lot of things that happen that you can’t control.”  

The same thought was echoed by Wes Westrum, New York Giants catcher and manager, when he said, "Baseball is like church: Many attend, but few understand."

Remember that there is a buyer out there for your home. Do your best to attract him, and that’s all you can do. Your best.



The Game Ain’t Over Until It’s Over

Of course, this is one of Yogi Berra’s most famous lines, and I find myself saying it near the end of almost every baseball game. And at other times as well. It’s a Life Lesson!

In real estate transactions, snafus and surprises are common on the road between a showing and a closing. That’s the reason I never remove staging until the last possible moment.

As a seller, you can’t take your buyer for granted. Inspections, financing, contingencies, all can be bugaboos. Being a seller takes flexibility and a positive attitude.   

 
I’m Not the Only One

Plenty of people see more to America’s favorite pastime than men hitting, running and chasing balls. Saul Steinberg, the cartoonist, wrote, “Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self esteem."

Sounds like home-selling to me!

My best advice: Listen to the coach, and play by the rules of the home staging game. The rule book I recommend is my $5 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It teaches you all the steps to build a winning team.  

I am rooting for you!

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