When trying to forecast the future housing market, most experts look at pending home sales. If they’re consistently trending upward, we can comfortably look forward to a robust near-future. For most of this year, the pending home sale statistics have been relatively stagnant, with only minor ups and downs.
On a local level we are still in a seller’s market, with low inventories of available homes and rising prices, but what will happen in autumn is anyone’s guess at this point. The good news? With expanding job growth and continued low interest rates, it appears that the fall home-selling market will be somewhat robust.
If you’re among those hoping to sell their homes this fall, we have put together some tips to help you get started. And, by the way, now is the best time to start.
Staging your home now for autumn buyers
The most important thing you can do when you’re considering how to stage the home in any season is to bring in as much light as possible. It’s even more important in fall and winter since days get shorter, and home interiors become darker, earlier. Yes, leaving the curtains open helps, but you may want to consider beefing up the interior lighting of the home as well.
Buy new lamps for dark corners and add brighter bulbs to fixtures that could use them. Then, leave the lights on (yes, all of them) before leaving for work in the morning on days you expect showings.
As you look for ways to stage the home, keep in mind that autumn is all about getting cozy and nothing helps you get there better than a fire in the fireplace. Though you may not want to leave one roaring while you’re away at work, you may want to make the fireplace a focal point for showings. Arrange the furniture so that it faces the fireplace and then dress the mantel (subtly) in an autumn theme. Use cozy throws on the sofa or chairs to further promote the idea of warmth and comfort.
Finally, organize the garage. Sure, you don’t read much about staging garages, but it’s just as important (if not more so to some buyers) as staging the other areas of your home. If you use yours for storage, start with decluttering it, purge items you no longer use or need and then organize what’s left.
Get maintenance out of the way
Consider having the HVAC system serviced. Summer is rough on the system and dust and dirt can accumulate around the outdoor components, restricting air flow during fall and winter. The lack of fresh air circulating in the home during showings can become a deal killer.
Get the gutters cleaned out now to avoid problems during a rainy day showing. While you’re up there, look for holes and check the connections. If you get these small repairs out of the way now, you avoid having to do them during messy weather.
Take a close look at your walls and trim. Do they look fresh, or do you see scuff marks and other damage? Home buyers will see these too, so take the time to clean needed areas well. If they can’t be cleaned, a fresh coat of paint is probably your best option (but stick with neutral colors).
Also, remember the fireplace-as-a-focal-point idea from above. Clean the glass doors, clear out accumulated ashes and, if it’s been awhile, consider hiring a chimney sweep. These are the small details that can make all the difference.
Curb appeal still matters
Probably the most challenging aspect of a fall home sale is keeping the yard free of plant debris. As we get closer to the time you’ll be putting the home on the market, rake the landscaping as needed and keep it up consistently during the showing period.
Consider planting some fall color as well, such as rust-colored and yellow mums. Even if they’re planted in pots that line the walkway or are clustered attractively on the porch, that pop of color will catch buyers’ eyes.
Think about leaving the grilling equipment and patio furniture outdoors just a smidge longer than usual so that you can stage the deck or patio to appeal to buyers. Give the furniture a good cleaning and then arrange it tastefully so that buyers can picture themselves entertaining in that spot.
Choose your real estate agent now
It’s easy to overlook, but think about how the appearance of your home’s exterior changes in fall. Leaves change color and begin falling from trees, the lawn may begin going dormant and, if temperatures dip, those colorful summer annuals lose their charm.
When homebuyers are perusing the MLS for homes to view in person, they view the home’s photo first. If what they see isn’t compelling, they’ll click to the next home on their list. So, if you wait until fall to choose your real estate agent, your home will look like all the others – with leaf-covered or brown lawns, no color in the planting beds and twiggy trees.
If you hire your agent right away, you can request that the exterior photos be taken now, while the home’s curb appeal is at its most attractive. Come fall, when you put the home on the market, the photos of your home will stand out from all the others, impressing buyers enough to want to view it in person.
Selling in fall is a somewhat different process than selling at other times of the year, but it always goes best with a little prep and elbow grease. Thankfully, we are still experiencing a seller’s market so along with the advantages inherent in this type of market, you’ll have even less competition from other sellers than you would have if you’d decided to sell in summer.
If you are considering selling this fall, or any time for that matter, contact us and we’ll give you our recommendations on how to price your home based on current conditions and we’ll get those all-important exterior photos taken now.