By Robert Irwin
"By Owner" sellers will try all sorts of advertising pitches to get buyers out to look at, and hopefully buy their properties. I've seen advertising promoting yards with fruit trees, video viewing rooms, and even large runs for dogs. But the latest twist seems to center around the "healthy" house.
Lifestyle as a Selling Point
Apparently a lot of this comes out of the conviction that some houses offer a healthier lifestyle than others. For example, there's the design of the neighborhood. A few years back a professor at San Diego State conducted an analysis of two neighborhoods - one in San Diego that had lots of sidewalks and walking trails with safe intersections for walkers and many local stores and restaurants. People could easily walk to shopping and to eat out. This was contrasted with a neighborhood in Claremont, California that had been primarily designed for the driver - drive to the store for everything. People rarely walked there simply because it was inconvenient.
Naturally enough in the San Diego neighborhood, people walked a lot more, over an hour more on average per week. And, apparently as a result, they tended to weigh less and be healthier than those in the Claremont neighborhood. This was the case even though they were at roughly the same education and income levels.
Even my own neighborhood near Los Angeles, where there are somewhat inadequate sidewalks, the proximity to many coffee houses, banks, grocery stores and so on encourage walking and most of my neighbors appear to be far healthier than what I see elsewhere.
All of which is to say, if your house is in a "healthy neighborhood," one where walking is convenient, why not let buyers know? Today with so many health conscious people, it might be just the trigger to get them interested in purchasing.
Of course, there are other ways that a house can be healthy. Having a newer home that isn't contaminated with asbestos, lead or formaldehyde is a good start. And having an adequate heating and cooling system also contributes to healthy residents. (And that includes having double pane windows and two-stage heaters and air conditioners that avoid rapid changes in temperature and drafty corners.)
Many people are concerned about allergies, and as those who have this problem know, some of the problem can come from carpeting where mites and allergens tend to hide out. If your house comes with lots of tile or hardwood floors, you can point this out. It might not make a difference to every buyer, but to someone who is very concerned about allergies, it could be the deciding factor.
All of which is to say, if you have a healthy house, be proud of it... and let others know.
Be careful of what you say about your healthy house. You don't want to go overboard and make statements that you can't substantiate in a reasonable way. It's one thing to "puff" up your home - it's quite another to make claims that can later come back to haunt you. For example, you might point out that you've heard that the hardwood floors, such as those in your home, are better for allergy sufferers than houses with wall-to-wall carpeting. On the other hand, you probably would be crawling out on a limb that's ready to be sawed off if you said that your tile floors would definitely relieve the buyer's allergy symptoms.
In the past buyers looked for location cubed. Today, in addition many are looking for a healthy place to live.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn. In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column forOwners.com.
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.