It’s always easier to go house-hunting and get through a move in good weather, which is why spring and summer have long been the favorite seasons for house sales.
So, is it too late this year to put your home up for sale? Should you just hold off until the holiday season is over and put your house on the market in January? Should you hang it up entirely until spring rolls back around?
Of course not!
Houses get bought and sold all year long — and fall is no exception. The shorter days and inclement weather can indeed make autumn home sales a bit more challenging, but some creative moves on your part can help you quickly take your home from “available” to “sold.” Here are some tips we can offer:
First, Keep Everything in Perspective
You’ve probably heard all of the horror stories of a fall listing and know them by heart — but every challenge you face is offset by a benefit that autumn brings to the real estate market. Consider, for example, these facts:
- Sure, it’s an “off” season for real estate sales, so that means fewer buyers are looking. That also means, however, that there are fewer available listings — and the buyers that are out there right now are usually highly motivated. Many of them want a fast purchase, too, so that they can settle into their new home for the holidays.
- Yes, most parents with school-aged children will probably hold off on a new home purchase until the school year ends for the sake of their schedules, but that’s only about 35% of buyers. That means 65% of your market isn’t worried about it — and they may be more forgiving of house “flaws” like the wrong school system or a lack of spare bathrooms.
- Naturally, the weather can be unpredictable and the leaves are falling — but you can use the seasonal flair and your decor to show your potential buyers just how warm and cozy your home can be.
In other words, don’t let the nay-sayers stress you out. If this is when you’re ready to sell, don’t hesitate to get started.
Second, Pay Attention to Certain Areas of Home Maintenance
You probably know all the basics that go along with putting a home up for sale: You need to do a deep clean, declutter, depersonalize and generally make sure that your property is looking its best and properly staged.
In the fall, however, there are a few other specific maintenance tasks you should complete to boost your home’s marketability:
- Call your HVAC company. When the weather is cold, you can bet that your potential buyers will be thinking about the furnace in every home they visit. Make sure that yours is operating perfectly and has a clean bill of health before they get there.
- Get the chimney and fireplace cleaned. A lit fireplace can be a big selling point (especially when there’s a nip in the air), but you can’t show yours off unless you make sure that the chimney is clear of any birds’ nests and debris and the soot is down to a minimum.
- Clean your windows. Rain and wind can leave your windows streaked and dirty, and your screens can get clogged with bugs and debris over the summer. Buyers will notice, and they may (consciously or subconsciously) associate dirty windows with a house that isn’t well-maintained.
- Improve your lighting. Because it gets dark earlier at this time of year, make sure that you have plenty of lights on at night (both for unknown house hunters who might be driving by and potential buyers coming to inspect the property in person). You may also want to put in brighter bulbs and add some exterior lights, including solar lights along your path, spotlights that illuminate the front of your home, and fairy lights on the back deck.
Third, Pay Particular Attention to Your Curb Appeal
The changing leaves on all the trees create a gorgeous backdrop for you to display your home — but it can be challenging to keep your lawn tidy when the leaves are constantly falling. A leaf blower could be your best friend right now.
Whether you handle the job yourself or you hire a service, you need to make sure your lawn and garden are in perfect shape for fall viewing. That means:
- Cut down dead vines and dead flowers.
- Trim back the bushes.
- Mulch around the flowerbeds and the bases of your trees.
- Edge the lawn along the walkway, sidewalks and curbs.
- Rake dead leaves and keep the yard clear of any fallen twigs or branches.
If your yard seems a little lifeless and dull, it may be time to add a few plants. Mums are gorgeous and they look great both in flower beds and pots on the porch. Ornamental cabbages are another great plant to add to a fall landscape.
While you should skip the Halloween decorations this year (because they’ll detract from your home’s overall look), a nice array of pumpkins mixed with potted mums can look very inviting on your front steps.
As soon as the yard is cleaned up, make sure that you get good photos of the outside — with the leaves in full color. That’s just as attractive (if not more) to a lot of people than summer photos where everything is green.
Finally, Capitalize on the Comfortable Feelings That Fall Brings
People embrace comfort in the fall. Somewhere between the end of summer and the start of the holiday rush, everything seems to slow down and people turn to the sights, sounds and smells of the season that brings them comfort and joy.
Your job is to make potential buyers associate your home with those happy, content feelings, so set the mood in your home before you showcase it:
- Liven up a dull room with autumn-colored throws and accent pillows.
- Gather pine cones, acorns and small gourds in a bowl for your table.
- Put unscented candles in the appropriate colors on your mantle for ambiance.
- Add seasonal scents, whether you use apple-scented candles or a fresh-baked pumpkin pie right before showings.
Is there anything else you can do to make your home sell faster in the fall? Absolutely. You need to trust your realtor to help you with your home-selling strategy. A local realtor can help you better understand the current market and what other steps you need to take to make your dream a reality!