If you want to know how to sell a house in 2018, face the facts: It's a new year, and that brings a new breed of home buyers to your front door. Knowing who these buyers are—as well as what they love and loathe in a home—is critical to fielding a great offer.
Today's buyers have very particular tastes and turnoffs that could mean your home gets snapped up fast, or sits on the sidelines. If you want your home sale to succeed, heed these tips.
1. Market to millennials
Those darn millennials are growing up! In fact, people in this age group (who are basically in their mid-20s to mid-30s) could make up 43% of home buyers taking out a mortgage by the end of 2018.
"Millennials are the largest purchasing group in the country right now," notes Jeff Nelson of IXL Real Estate Eastern Shore in Daphne, AL.
So what do millennials want? For one, they're settling in the suburbs. About 57% of home buyers aged 36 and under bought homes in the burbs in 2016, while just 15% of the same age group bought urban pads. Yet millennials still crave walkable neighborhoods, so if your area has cafes and other amenities within a short distance, play that up.
As for the home itself? McMansions are out, smaller homes are in.
"Buyers are trending toward homes that meet but do not exceed their space requirements," notes Cynthia Chase, a real estate agent with Weichert in Hamburg, NJ.
Still, you should play up how spacious your place feels by touting an open floor plan if you have one (or knocking down a wall or two if it's within your pre-home-sale budget).
Millennials are also into green features like storm windows, insulated water heaters, and solar panels—so show buyers receipts of utility bills from before and after adding these features to show just how much you saved.
2. But don't forget about baby boomers, too
Another hot home-buying group is baby boomers—the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to double, from 46 million in 2016 to more than 98 million in 2060. And according to the AARP, nearly 90% of seniors want to stay at home as they grow older.
So what does that mean for home sellers? You can woo boomer buyers by renovating your home to incorporate universal design features, which make a home accessible regardless of age or disability—or touting these features if your home has them already.
Think your home lacks such amenities? You might be surprised by what's considered a plus. A one-level ranch home or one with a master suite on the ground floor presents less of a risk of falls, so make sure to mention these features as perks.
3. Go beyond a video tour and add a drone
Video tours are nice, but they're so 2017.
"We are slowly seeing the rise of drone tours, which are much more effective at marketing your property than traditional photos," says Glenn Carter, a real estate investor and expert at Condo.Capital.
Drone footage has been on the rise since the FAA first issued an exemption for a real estate operator to use drones in 2015. Sales of commercial drones were expected to reach 2.5 million units in 2017, with drone technology in real estate predicted to account for 22% of total commercial drone use by 2020.
The key benefit a drone brings to your property is that it provides a sweeping aerial view: If you have a beautiful yard or landscaping or woods nearby, drone footage can highlight these aspects better (and certainly more dramatically) than a simple photograph or on-the-ground video. It can also show off the neighborhood surrounding your place.
If you think drone footage would help your home sell quickly, ask your real estate agent about hiring a professional photographer with experiencing using drones. Anyone you employ should have the required FAA UAV operator's certificate.
4. Get smart home features that play well with others
Having smart home features is par for the course these days. But now that so many home buyers come with their own smart home gadgets, it pays to make sure your system is broadly compatible with the big players in the field.
"Most home buyers have already invested in personal products built on one platform or another—Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod—and it is important that your system support all of these options in order to stay attractive to the largest potential buyer pool possible," says Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group in Baltimore.
5. Consider a pre-inspection before you sell
Today's buyers are looking for turnkey homes, which are move-in ready and lack any potential problems.
"As people get busier and busier, home buyers are looking to make things easier," notes Janine Acquafredda, associate broker at House-N-Key Realty in Brooklyn, NY. "People want to be able to move right in, worry-free."
To ease any concerns buyers might have about your home's condition, consider having your home pre-inspected—which can reassure buyers that the house is in good shape, or point you toward repairs you might want to make before you put your home on the market.
One caveat: Getting a pre-inspection doesn't mean home buyers won't want their own home inspection, too.