Home is a place of comfort, offering a sense of not only welcome but of safety. An oasis. That same feeling applies not only to the home you’re living in right now, but to the home that buyers are looking at, maybe even at this very moment.
It is an important fact for sellers to remember. Just because you feel comfortable and protected in your home does not mean that such a feeling will translate to those coming to see if they want to buy it. Such knowledge can make all the difference not only in whether you successfully sell your home, but even in choosing a real estate professional to work with.
“Everybody is different,” Kevin Leatherman, owner/broker of Leatherman Homes, says of the range of buyers looking at any given home.It is an understatement, to be sure, of knowledge acquired over more than three decades immersed in the world of Long Island real estate. “But no matter what, I need to create a safe environment.
“Because it’s not about me. It’s not about the seller. It’s about a buyer coming into your home and feeling comfortable,” he continues. “If somebody has a two-year-old toddler who has never been exposed to pets and you have a pet, sometimes kids have different reactions—they can get scared if your dog is barking, for example—and then if the kid starts crying and the mother or father starts to hold the kid to calm them down, that’s not a great way to enter your home.”
It is wisdom and an awareness learned from real world experience.
“About five years ago I was showing the house of one of my clients, a beautiful house with a big glass screen door,” Leatherman recounts. “It must have been July or August, a hot summer day, and the buyer and I come up to the house, and I ask, ‘Are you okay with dogs?’ And she says no.
“The seller opens up the door and says, ‘Come in,’” he continues. “I said no, and I told my seller that the woman would prefer the dog be put away. So my seller says, No, my dog’s not a problem. My dog’s old, my dog’s not an issue.’
“I’m standing between the two ladies, and my buyer isn’t moving an inch. She’s standing on this large stoop, not making a move. So I had to think on my feet, because the seller was not putting the dog away. So I turned about to the seller and asked, ‘Would you prefer to take the dog to the backyard, or shall I do it?’ And I took the dog to the backyard—cute dog, golden retriever, I think.
“So the buyer comes in, I show the property, and then I walk the buyer to her car. It was the first time I’d ever met her. And she turns around and says to me, ‘I just want to let you know, I’m not difficult, but I happen to have a high-risk pregnancy and I don’t want somebody’s dog jumping up on me.’ I didn’t even know she was pregnant.”
It is a prime example of perspective. Your dog or cat or pot-bellied pig may be your pride and joy, but they can cause issues for others.
“There was another time when I was escorting an agent and a husband and wife and their two kids, and the woman was pregnant. And all of a sudden, halfway through the house, the wife exits and goes to her minivan. And I’m thinking to myself, this is not good. Women make 90% of the decisions in real estate, and the woman just walked right out the door. And it wasn’t like she answered her cellphone or took a business call or whatever. She just politely walked out.
“This was not my buyer. But I thought to myself, I need to do something here. So I walked outside to the minivan and I asked her, ‘Is everything okay?’ And she said, ‘I’ve decided I’m not comfortable, because the seller has a dog and a cat, and I’ve decided that I’m not comfortable because I’m pregnant and I don’t want to have any problems with the germs and the pets.’”
Leatherman told the buyer he would set up another appointment, could made arrangements with the seller to have the dog and the cat not here. Of course, its isn’t always pets that can create challenges when showing a home.
“There was a very, very windy day about 10 years ago, and somebody had one of those glass screen doors and it wasn’t really secured super tight,” Leatherman tells. “I had a woman coming in with a newborn baby, maybe six or nine months old, and she was not comfortable with the wind that day and that glass door. So she was holding her child and protecting it, feeling like this glass door was going to break on her. That is just not the right experience, coming into a home.
“So that’s why I’m always sensitive to that, by asking people if they are okay. Because if they’re not okay, let’s take care of it.”
Learn more about Kevin Leatherman and Leatherman Homes at leathermanhomes.com.