When is the best time to sell a home? Ask any realtor and their answer will be, spring or summer. Many realtors will encourage you to wait until spring if you want to sell your home. A newly listed home gets more attention than a home that has been on the market for six months. Also, after your home has been on the market for a while, buyers are more likely to expect you to take much less than the listing price. However, if it is necessary to sell your home in the fall there are steps you can follow to increase your chances.
#1 Know the competition. Search real estate listings for homes that are comparable to yours. Note the upgrades, the age of the home, the size of the lot and the curb appeal. This knowledge will give you a good idea of how to price your home to sell.
#2 Price it to sell. In the current real estate market, there are many homes that are bank owned and are priced for much less than market value, you may not be able to price your home to compete with those homes. However, It is likely you will have to price your home 20% below what you would have three years ago.
#3 Ask your realtor to take a lower commission: Realtors know the current conditions of the market and they want to help you sell your home. It is not unreasonable to ask your real estate agent to reduce his or her commission. However, remember that your realtor has to make a living too, be willing to negotiate.
#4 Take care of the little things. Walk around your home with a pen and paper and make a list of things that you would want repaired before you would buy your home. Qualified buyers can afford to be very discriminating in this market. Once you have your list made, get busy repairing and upgrading, starting with the highest priority items first. Also be willing to be upfront with potential buyers. Tell them about those repairs and upgrades you are willing to do, before you sell your home. People like honesty, and are more likely to feel at ease knowing they will not have hidden surprises if they were to purchase your home.
#5 Polish the cover. Potential buyers will, “judge a book by its cover’. Curb appeal will help you sell your home. The fall season can be a beautiful time of the year, but the fall leaves can make a home look shabby. Make a concerted effort to keep on top of those leaves, especially keeping walkways clear. Keep holiday decorations tasteful and simple, using colorful fall plants and shrubbery to brighten up the outside of your home. It is not a bad idea to re-mulch spring flower gardens to make empty areas look fresh. Keep holiday lighting displays and yard ornaments to a minimum, these can cause the outside of your home to look cluttered.
#6 Leave a light on for them. As days grow shorter be sure to keep outside lights on and make sure all the bulbs are bright and new. If you will be away from your home until after dark set a timer for your outside lights, and one indoor light that will shine in a main window. You want your home to look warm and welcoming in the brisk fall evenings.
#7 De-clutter. Although it is necessary for you to live in your home while it is on the market, it is also necessary for you to decide what you can live without until you sell your home, even if that is not for several months. Inventory each room; remove furniture that is not necessary, box up extra books, toys and other items that are taking up shelf space. If you cannot place it neatly in a drawer, cabinet or closet, it needs to go.
#8 Cut emotional ties. You want to sell your home to have the freedom to buy a new house, so begin cutting your emotional ties to your current home right away. Replace family photos with landscapes, or simple paintings. Find a special place for your children’s artwork that is not the refrigerator door, and begin thinking about the new life and new memories you will make once you sell your home.
#9 Welcome home potential buyers. Before you open your doors to potential buyers be sure you have created a welcoming atmosphere in your home. Place unscented candles in the fireplace and light them for a cozy glow. Pick up cookies at your local bakery, and place cinnamon sticks and water in a bowl and warm them in the oven. Your house will smell like you baked the cookies yourself. Have hot coffee and cocoa ready to serve. Finally be sure your home décor is seasonal and tasteful. You want your home to bring back memories of the cozy family gatherings that come with the brisk days of fall to help your potential buyers feel at home.
#10 Be available. Once potential buyers have the opportunity to view your home privately, offer to answer any questions they may have. Share personal experience about the neighbors, the school system, the daily commute, energy costs and yearly maintenance and insurance expenses. Honesty is the best policy when you want to sell your home, especially in the fall.