Tips for Fall Home Sellers

Sell a home this fallWho sells in the fall? Though of course different parts of the country have different market conditions influencing a decision to sell, some aspects of fall selling apply across the board.

For instance, Becky Gee, ZipRealty agent in Portland, OR, says that “Fall home selling usually brings out the most motivated buyers and sellers. People who have their home listed in the fall usually have some serious motivation to sell rather than folks who might want to ‘test’ the market in the busy season.  Haruko Hata, Realtor® in ZipRealty’s San Francisco, CA market agrees. Even with SF’s famously high prices, Haruko notes that sellers aren’t exactly lining up to sell their homes in that city as fall approaches, possibly because they’re holding out for more equity. Inventory then will remain low “unless more people realize this super competitive seller's market is actually a great time to sell their properties. They could sell their properties for a good price if they have the right strategy and good preparation."

The Right Strategy

Each house is unique, so no one single, magical plan will sell every home, every time. But a good real estate agent will know what works for your particular market:

  • Setting the Price to Reflect the Market

Haruko, working in uber- competitive San Francisco, says “setting a listing price lower than an actual market value would work well in the seller's market to create even greater competition."

Bryan Sweely, a ZipRealty Realtor® in the Silicon Valley area of California, cautions sellers not to rely too much on spring or summer madness when setting fall prices. “The past season was a seller's market with multiple offers driving prices over list, but we can’t yet be sure how this fall will play out.  Be careful to not let your expectations on price get too high.  Do your homework.  Use your Realtor® to get access to the most recent closed sales and their final price.”

  • Preparing the Home

Hire a stager or just a really good cleaning service? Make repairs or improvements? As a seller, your life situation and budget obviously play into these decisions, but an experienced Realtor® can help you choose the best way to showcase your home’s qualities, and counsel you on repairs/renovations you should do, may have to do, or can skip all together.

  • Marketing Your Home

Haruko reminds sellers to work with a tech-savvy, plugged-in real estate agent. Yes, open homes, brochures, and newspaper ads still matter, but the Internet, with its wide reach and broad appeal, can maximize your exposure.

Bryan strongly agrees with this: “First impressions are very important,” he says, “and those first impressions happen over the Internet. “

But it’s not just having your home listed on the Web that matters; it’s how you list there. Think professional photos of beautifully arranged rooms that entice buyers. After all, as Bryan puts it, “If buyers like what they see on the Internet, then they will come visit your home in person.”

  • Know Your Buyer

Each market has a unique set of buyers. In San Francisco, Haruko expects everything from “first-time buyers, singles, couples, investors, move-down buyers (those who want to move-up are fewer than those who want to move-down in the current market)”  to return buyers who tried and failed to buy a home this spring and summer. “I've also noticed more investors who are thinking of flipping have seriously entered in the market.” But your market will have its own demographics, and your real estate agent can help you target those buyers more accurately.

And Finally, Fall Is Fleeting

If you want to sell your home this fall, our last word of advice is not to wait too long before starting the process. Bryan’s last point proves why: “The fall selling season is short, and runs for only two months from mid-September to mid-November.  You need to get your home on the market before mid-October before buyers start getting distracted with the holiday season.” Feel inspired to get started? Check out the links below.


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