Selling A Home? Think Like A Buyer

“Grab your coat, and get your hat, leave your worry on the doorstep.”

This is a quote from Dorothy Fields. She wasn’t talking about real estate, but we think it rather a propos – as long as you put on the right hat!

If you’re selling a home in Northern Virginia right now, things are looking good for you. Homes that are priced right & prepared properly are selling quickly and prices are starting to rise. So far this year, 898 homes in Fairfax County have gone under contract. The average days on market for those homes was under 2 months (56 days to be exact). But the range of days on market varied IMMENSELY. Some homes sold the same day they went on the market and others were on the market for five whole years! Here’s a sampling of statistics so far in 2013:

  • Falls Church: 95 sales, 42% sold in 2 weeks or less, some took as long as 417 days
  • Great Falls: 9 sales, 11% sold in 2 weeks or less, some took as long as 305 days
  • McLean: 52 sales, 44% sold in 2 weeks or less, some took as long as 657 days!
  • Oakton: 18 sales, 17% sold in 2 weeks or less, some took as long as 147 days
  • Reston: 64 sales, 47% sold in 2 weeks or less, some took as long as 203 days
  • Vienna: 57 sales, 49% sold in 2 weeks or less, some took as long as 394 days

No one wants to stay on the market that long. They certainly don’t want to keep their house in showing condition day after day, month after month. AND more importantly, statistics show that the longer you are on the market, the less your home will sell for.

So why such a large variation? We think it’s because some Sellers just can’t put on their “Buyer Hat”.

Put On Your Buyer Hat

When we meet with our Sellers, we recommend a change in perspective and a focus on the way BUYERS think. It’s especially hard to do that if you’re leaving a home you have enjoyed living in. But if you want to maximize your return AND sell as quickly as possible, it’s time to put on your “Buyer Hat”. Below is a comparison of how Home SELLers think versus how Home BUYers think. It might not be what you want to hear, but it WILL help you sell faster and for more money.


  • A typical Seller says “I’d rather let the Buyer take care of these items. I might offer a credit, but I’m way too busy & that way they can choose the color or style they want.”
  • A typical Buyer says “Most homes on the market are “move-in ready”. I barely have time to look at houses, much less fix them up. Find me a house that’s turn-key. Otherwise, I probably don’t want to see it.”


  • A typical Seller says “I spent a lot of time getting this house just right. It’s really elegant and I spent a lot of money on that wallpaper!”
  • A typical Buyer says ” Wallpaper?! Ugh! This house looks like my Grandma’s. I have a hard time even imagining myself living here, much less actually doing so. Let’s keep looking.”


  • A typical Seller says “Let’s try a higher price than the comps are likely to bear. You never know unless you try & the market is going up. We can always reduce the price if it doesn’t sell.”
  • A typical Buyer says “Don’t even show me that house if it’s above my price range. I am already stretching. And if the Seller is THAT overpriced – it’s probably not even worth an offer.”

A top Northern VA Realtor will have many resources for you. They can help you find painters, contractors, stagers, handymen & more. And they can tell you from experience which items you do & more importantly, do NOT need to invest in to get your greatest return. So before you start prepping your home for the market, consult your Realtor. They can help you put on your “Buyer Hat”, minimize the time invested and maximize your return!

Call (703) 242-3975 to schedule a FREE consultation with The Belt Team.

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