Although the real estate business tends to slow down in the fall, the season can still be an attractive time to put a home on the market. If you want to sell your house in the next few months, it can be done. When my wife and I sold our primary residence in 2004, it was a sellers market like today, but we listed it in October 2004 and missed the prime seller’s market of February thru July before school started. We eventually sold it in February 2005, but I’m confident we could have sold it sooner had we thought about a few strategies to improve our home’s buyer appeal.
Potential buyers—such as empty nesters or Millennials who aren’t worried about moving after the school year—will compete for fewer homes on the market and will likely want to seal a deal before the holiday season kicks into high gear. Here are three tips to help make your home more attractive in autumn/winter, so you can sell your house before winter ends.
1. Clean Up
As many regions slowly shift from a sellers’ market to a moderate or buyers’ market, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your house look its best. Pay particular attention to eliminating clutter and safety hazards that can crop up with cooler weather:
Make sure your yard, walkways and gutters are free of leaves and debris.
Mow your lawn so it looks neat..
If it is rainy, be sure you have a good doormat so visitors can wipe their feet and not traipse mud and water through the house.
Wash decks and wipe down windows so they sparkle instead of appear streaked by rain.
Vacuum and wash down the fireplace, especially if it hasn’t been used in months.
If it’s still warm enough to use the patio, make sure the area is inviting and arranged with the views from indoors in mind.
- Above all, make sure your doorway and the rest of the house is clear from knick knacks, bicycles and toys that make your home appear cluttered.
2. Create Autumn Curb Appeal
If your house’s exterior looks drab, you may want to consider planting seasonal flowers and adding fresh mulch to your planter beds. Potential buyers will make an instant judgment when they see your home, and you want to be sure it’s positive. While you don’t want to go overboard with decorations that detract from the home itself, a few displays like a festive front-door wreath—and lighting so people can clearly see the path to your front door—can make your home feel fresh, even in the fall.
3. Keep the House Cozy
Entering a cold house could leave an unfavorable impression. So warm up your home with a fresh coat of paint and set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Adding a programmable thermostat, such as a NEST, will not only save you money, but give your home a more modern technology feel to buyers. Another way to warm up a home is with light, especially as days get shorter leading into winter. Be sure to open blinds and curtains so plenty of light illuminates the home’s interior. A few embellishments like red, orange or golden yellow pillows can breathe new life into dull sofa—or a fall centerpiece can highlight a certain area of the home. While you don’t want your home to look like the latest department store display, well-chosen embellishments that give potential buyers the impression you’ve paid attention to the fine details and taken care of any problems with the home will help you put your best face forward.
Fall/Winter is always a little more challenging for sellers, but with these few tips and a little extra effort, you should get a better return on your real estate investment and home sale. Talk to your realtor about tips in your specific neighborhood and market to maximize your return.