With so many other properties on the market, you can make your listed home stand out — and improve your odds of bids — by "selling" your neighborhood as well. After all, the living experience extends beyond your property lines as buyers look for the proximity of parks and playgrounds, restaurants and even medical facilities. They want to live in an enjoyable, convenient and safe area filled with friendly neighbors who will create a terrific community for them and for their children.
You won't be able to talk with potential buyers at an open house, but you can convey the strengths of the neighborhood in several effective ways:
• Include neighborhood details in your home listing, and go beyond "the usuals," such as the names of schools in the area.
• Prepare an "About Our Neighborhood" document that lists enticing attractions. Your real estate agent can set copies of this document out with the official listing document at your open house for potential buyers to read and take home with them.
• Ask your agent about "Find a Neighborhood," which is a tool on the National Association of Realtors' website, listing in-depth details of your surrounding area. Some features of this tool include community history, such as historical landmarks and popular festivals that take place in your town; the demographics of your neighbors by age; weather patterns; school rankings; and awards won by your town, such as "Best Of" in your county. Realtor.com refers to a neighborhood's "hip factor" and mentions such attractive details as "distance to major sports franchises." A buyer may see a very enjoyable social schedule in his or her future.
When writing up your list of neighborhood perks, be sure to include the following:
• Nearby parks and playgrounds. Young families with kids — and newlyweds soon to have children — will like the idea of being able to walk or bike to quality parks and play areas. A new trend in the park topic is the mention of dog parks, so if you have a quality one near you, add it to your list.
• Nearby town activities that are inexpensive. This includes community pools and golf courses.
• Neighborhood friendliness. On your printout, mention the fact that the neighborhood hosts a block party every summer, that the neighborhood ladies have a book club or organic vegetable co-op from a local family farm, and that your wonderful next-door neighbors take in your mail while you're away. Mention that your neighbors are quiet, if that is true, because loud neighbors who host parties every weekend are a turnoff to buyers.
• Neighborhood safety. Write about the great neighborhood watch system, as well as how the township sends out emails to alert residents to any potential risks in the area. No town is 100 percent safe from crime, so if there have been car break-ins on the other side of town, you're better protected from being victimized with the warning to remove your GPS from your car and lock up.
"I also added that our town is excellent at snowplowing and salting the roads," says home seller Elizabeth Curry. "You never know what kind of trouble buyers had at their former residences with that kind of thing."
• Nearby transportation. If you live outside of a metropolitan area, mention how easy it is to hop a train just a few blocks away, to take visitors into the city, or how short your commute is.
• Availability of neighborhood baby sitters. This registers with buyers who have children, especially when you say you can provide a list of accredited sitters.
• Free fitness attractions. Mention hiking and biking paths, trails, public tennis and basketball courts, and other attractions for those who enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
"I added the fact that the church in town offers $10 Zumba classes on Thursday nights," says home seller Kayla Chiles. "It's something I really enjoyed, and takes the guesswork out of a new homeowner's search for affordable fitness classes."
• Holiday cheer. Write about how festive the neighborhood is during the holidays, with homes decorated, kids having sledding parties, progressive holiday parties for adults, and more. When you portray your neighborhood as a fun place to live, new residents will get excited about making new friends.
It's these experiential details that can elevate your home above a competitive house in your town. When their listing only supplies the basics, yours stands out in comparison. And potential buyers will be able to tell in your write-up how much you loved living in your home and enjoyed your neighborhood.