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How to Sell to Napa Valley Buyers
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Seven Tips on How to Sell Napa Valley Real Estate to Napa Valley Buyers


 Hundreds of articles on the subject of how to sell a house have appeared in numerous publications, offering pretty much the same kind of general advice that applies to most real estate markets. The following are tips and ideas that are tailored specifically to marketing homes in the Napa Valley.

 Napa Valley Sellers must first understand the profile of the typical Napa Valley buyer so you can ‘bait the hook’ with the proper bait when it’s time to sell.

 First and foremost Napa Valley buyers want a lifestyle that is enhanced, either directly or indirectly, by the wine country stereotypes they see in the media, or have experienced on a wine tasting vacation; i.e., sipping wine on a veranda overlooking bucolic vineyards, dining at four-star restaurants and living pretty much the life of Mayberry with wine.

 This stereotype of living in the wine country is no different than someone wanting a house on the seashore-assuming that every beachside resident takes long walks on deserted beaches wearing rolled up Dockers, over-size beach hats and flowing skirts, and that every house has an Adirondack chair on its deck and a welcome sign that reads “Welcome to our Beach House”. Therefore, buyers who want to live in the Napa Valley envision themselves sipping wine on their deck overlooking bucolic vineyards at sunset and dining on the weekends at chic restaurants or cooking for friends in their chef’s kitchen.

 Whether a buyer is moving a young family here, or looking for a weekend home or looking to retire, they choose Napa Valley to experience, on some level, a rural but sophisticated lifestyle that is centered around the enjoyment of vineyards and wine.

 Therefore, depending on what they can afford, a buyer, even on the low end of the scale- who perhaps can’t afford their own  vineyard, or even a vineyard view- will want “proximity” to a vineyard for taking walks, or proximity to the great restaurants if they can’t afford to live next door to the French Laundry. They want wine cabinets and an outdoor setting that is conducive to entertaining their envious friends and family who visit from out of town.

 Secondly, Napa Valley buyers want charming architecture. The definition of charming translates as ‘anything that isn’t a tract house”. The four main types of architecture and style buyers seem to want are: rustic chic (age blended with modern style), European-influenced homes, quaint farmhouses or classic cottages.  

 To summarize, most Napa Valley buyers want proximity to vineyards and unique architecture and style.

 Therefore the key to marketing Napa Valley real estate is in staging your property to fulfill Napa Valley buyer’s expectations. Take a moment to read over the following Seven Tips that focus exclusively on how to sell to Napa Valley home buyers:


 Tip # 1- If you live in a tract-style home, do whatever you can to eliminate reminders of the 1970’s and 1980’s décor. For example, doing small-scale upgrades such as replacing dated brass door knobs with contemporary door knobs; putting in new ceiling-light fixtures; replacing dated lamps & sink faucets; removing fake wood paneling; painting the front door in a high gloss red, black or sage green; replace plastic beige light switch plates with something custom looking. Replace sliding closet doors with sliding, re-conditioned barn doors. Cottage cheese ceilings will literally make a buyer run from your house. These cosmetic changes can make a significant impression on a buyer’s opinion of value.

 Tip #2- Upgrade landscaping to include popular shrubs and trees such as a small grove of olive or citrus trees. Potted citrus trees near a front walk-way will make the entrance to your home more appealing. Raised flower beds are an inexpensive way to give a front or back yard a face-lift. Decorate your front porch or entry with a wall sconce, a small old bench, a lavender wreath and a free standing, rustic antique.

 Tip #3- If you have carpeting covering hardwood floors, remove the carpet and refinish the floors before selling. Napa Valley buyers love hardwood floors, or tile, or pavers.  Having one floor style throughout is desirable. Linoleum in the kitchen, carpet in the den and tile in the bathroom are dead giveaways to a dated style. There are excellent floor refinishers in the valley who can spruce up your old wood floors. This project alone will transform the interior of your home to a style that buyers are looking for.

Tip # 4- If you have a vineyard view, maximize it in the following ways:

  • If you have a vineyard view but a your back, side or front yard fence blocks it- rip it out and put up see-through fencing, or better yet, no fence at all, and “borrow” the landscape.
  • If you could have a more expansive vineyard view but trees and foliage screen it, open it up as much as possible. (call our office for referrals on experience trimmers who know how to accomplish this without invasive cutting)
  • Place a cozy outdoor furniture grouping (plastic white chairs don’t count) near the vineyard view that is specifically designed for gazing and wine sipping. Stage this outdoor furniture grouping for showings. Table cloth, old candelabra, magazines, pillows). It will help buyers visualize that part of the fantasy.
  • If you don’t have a vineyard view but live on a quiet lane near vineyard-lined walking paths, say so in your ads. Give buyers as much of the Napa Valley fantasy as they can afford.
  • If you are within walking distance to a high profile vineyard, winery or restaurant, say so in your advertising. Use well known Napa Valley landmarks that will fulfill a buyer’s ego. A buyer who is can say to their friends and relatives that they live a stone’s throw from such and such landmark sells.

Tip #5- Mitigate Road Noise

Those of us who live here know that visitor and commuter traffic isn’t getting better. The valley is narrow so it is difficult to escape road noise from the major traffic arteries. If you have traffic noise from Hwy 29, or the Trail or other high traffic sources do your best to tame it down. Remember buyers come here for a fantasy country experience, which doesn’t include traffic noise. Try these noise mitigation tips:

  • Enhance fencing with stone or solid surface walls
  • Create enclosed courtyards with running fountains and tall, heavy foliage
  • Well-insulated windows are a must for homes with road noise.
  • Work with a landscape person who will tell you what kind of dense, fast growing plants will create an attractive interference between your house and the noise.

Tip #6- Enhance Outdoor Living Appearances

Buyers have this fantasy image of sipping wine on their deck, or entertaining guests poolside and enjoying the beauty of Napa Valley’s nature. Sellers should enhance their outdoor living spaces as much as possible. When you look at your home ask yourself, where would a buyer sit and sip wine around this home? If you don’t have a place for this imaginary scene, create one:

  • Dress up decks with fresh paint, comfortable indoor/outdoor furnishings and elegant décor. A farm table set out on a patio, or overstuffed chairs, chaise lounge and ottomans invite buyers to fulfill their imaginations of their outdoor lifestyle.
  • Outdoor fireplaces, custom barbeques, outdoor kitchens, courtyards and sitting lounges are a few special improvements that Napa Valley buyers are attracted to.
  • Throw out the white plastic chairs. Nothing can spoil a lovely outdoor setting or gorgeous Napa Valley views like a set of $3.99 resin chairs. Same goes for tarps, or vinyl awnings and shade tents.

Tip #7- Don’t chase the market for the ‘what if’ price

Napa Valley buyers are very savvy and they do their research. Never price your home based solely on your expectations or on other listing prices. Have your agent do a thorough, independent analysis based on the same market facts that any reasonable buyer will use. Admittedly, Napa Valley is full of unique properties so there are not hundreds of homes that look alike that sell frequently to do an apples-to-apples comparison with other sales. But comparable sales, for better or for worse, are the primary data a prudent buyer and their experienced agent will use to determine their offering price.

 Knowing how a buyer will conduct their research to determine a reasonable approach to value on your property will save much time and wasted energy ‘disagreeing’ with the market.  Keep in mind that a buyer’s approach to value WILL NOT include:

  • Seller’s financial needs
  • Seller’s expectations of return on investment
  • Seller’s cost basis and dollar figures on capital improvements
  • Asking prices on any other real estate, similar or dissimilar

What a buyer WILL likely consider in determining an asking price is:

  • Comparable, recent sales
  • What the property will appraise for by their lender
  • Whether the future value would provide an acceptable return on investment after they make envisioned improvements
  • Comparison of other properties on the market that may offer similar features for more or less value


For more helpful hints on marketing, staging and pricing your Napa Valley home call our office to schedule an appointment for an objective analysis.





Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 11:57