Ready, Set, Sell: Your Guide to Selling Your Home this Fall

Get ready to sell this fallIn one week, why do two similarly sized homes on the same street sell for different amounts? Could be one seller was better prepared than the other. We want you to be the prepared one, the one who gets the better offer.

That’s why we offer you these tips to get your home sold by 2013.

Fall Selling Is Faster

If you hope to sell before 2013, you’re probably signing on to sell before the holidays really get underway. Once people being traveling, shopping, cooking and otherwise celebrating, their motivation to buy a home dwindles. That means that sellers who want to sell before the new year need to get serious—and fast.

Repairs

Repairs always come up when you get ready to list your house. If the problem is cosmetic, it’s probably worth fixing it so your home shows better. On the other hand, dated linoleum or faded counter-tops might not be a deal breaker to buyers who wants to put their own touches on a place. But certainly, small things like cracked tiles, peeling paint, electrical outlets not fully affixed to the wall, doors not hanging straight on their hinges—fix them! Buyers see a well-kept home as a sign the property’s been maintained in general. If they think the home’s been neglected, they could get scared away.

Major repairs are a different story. You might find it hard to cough up money for a house you’re planning on leaving, but if you try to avoid essential repairs, you’ll likely be asked to fix them anyway in the buyers’ offer. Things like cracked sewers, leaky roofs, and pest control problems turn up in home inspection. Buyers may then ask you to remedy the problems, or to give cash back at closing and/or lower the home’s price so they can do so themselves.

Staging

Not everyone wants, or can afford to hire, a professional stager. I argue you don’t need one if you’re willing to de-clutter, organize and de-personalize your home. If you have to live in the house while showing it to buyers, force yourself to think as they would. Would you want to see other people’s clothes stuffed in the closet? Other people’s toiletries littered over the bathroom sink? Other people’s family photos covering every inch of the refrigerator? If people think the home is still very much someone else’s, they find it hard to imagine moving in.  Plus, buyers can’t get a sense of the actual size of the place, or of the storage options, if everything is stuffed full.

An emptier, neutral space looks bigger, and is a much better canvas for buyers to paint their own lives on. You can create that canvas—even if you’re still living in the house.

  • Get rid of unneeded stuff. What better time than now? You won’t have to move it when you sell!
  • Put essential every day items into small boxes or plastic bins that you can store when showing the house, then easily access when you need them again.
  • Rent a storage unit for files, books, knickknacks, spare furniture, seasonal items—anything you need but don’t need now.
  • Make sure closets and cabinets are neat. Buyers want to see inside the storage options. Don’t let cluttered items come tumbling down on their heads! Aim for organization and neatness: clothing buttoned and all facing the same way; cooking items logically arranged and wiped clean.

Note: If you have something you know you want to take with you, like a treasured chandelier or special shower fixtures, you should pack that away. You don’t want buyers seeing it, wanting it, then bailing on the deal because you won’t include it.

Cleaning

You might say cleaning the house from top to bottom is just common sense for a seller. But then you remember all the truly dirty, gross houses you’ve toured as a buyer. People don’t always expend the effort they should to get rid of spider webs, polish and de-crud faucets, remove mystery stains from fridges, tubs and toilets. Wash windows too, and pressure wash walkways and patios. You want the outside to be as sparkling clean and the inside.

Yard Maintenance

First impressions count! Now’s the time to rake those leaves, pull those weeds, cut back the scraggly plants. Add a few potted flowers on the porch for curb appeal. While you’re at it, polish up your address numbers, which tend to get dingy with time and exposure to the elements.

Price It Right

Above all though, your home must be priced well for the location and market conditions of that location. A local Realtor® can show you all the latest sales data on nearby homes of similar size; together you can assess all the factors at play in choosing a price point. An over-priced home will not sell quickly, and you may end up having to come down in price more than once if you start off too high.

Remember those two houses,  both for sale at the same time, on the same block? With the right planning, yours can be the faster, more profitable sale. 

Additional Resources

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert