As the summer turns to fall, the behaviors of many home buyers change. Understanding home buyers when you list your home for sale can help you sell your home more quickly and for more money. You may also benefit from understanding how the changing season can affect home buyer's perception of your home. Having this information can help you prepare your home for sale. If you're thinking about selling your home soon, here's what you need to know..
What is the Real Estate Market Like for Fall?
People hoping to buy a home often start looking for property in spring and buy in summer. In winter and fall, most home buyers settle in to wait for better weather. The people left looking for a home during these months are people switching jobs and people who have a limited time left in their current home. Compared to buyers in other seasons, fall home buyers are often motivated and serious about making a purchase. They want to make an offer.
Starting in September, real estate sales slow down. Some bidding wars still take place in September as buyers leftover from summer make their last effort to buy a home before the holidays, but sellers have to be creative in order to sell their home in a less active market. Sellers who want to put their properties on the market in fall should be prepared to get fewer buyers but more serious offers.
Pros and Cons of Selling a Home in Fall
Most homeowners do not choose to sell their home in fall unless they have to, because fewer buyers can mean a longer sale time. However, there are some advantages to selling your house in fall. Being aware of the advantages and disadvantages can help you through the home buying process.
Advantages of Selling a House in Fall
- Few homes go up for sale at this time of year, so competition among home sellers is less.
- Buyers are motivated to purchase before the holidays.
- Autumn weather can make homes appear warm and cozy, which can be good for staging.
Challenges of Selling a House in Fall
- Dying plants in the yard and falling autumn leaves can make curb appeal upkeep very time-consuming.
- Fewer people are actively looking at homes in fall.
- If the home does not sell by the time the holidays arrive, the seller may find themselves juggling a home sale at the same time that they're celebrating the holidays.
Tips for Selling a Home in the Fall
Although the circumstances aren't always ideal in the fall, there are many ways that you can make the best of your home selling experience. By staging your home properly and preparing your home quickly, you'll have an easier time selling your property.
As fall turns into winter, sellers are fewer and farther in between. Selling your home earlier in the fall will be easier than selling later in the fall, and it will definitely be easier than selling in the winter. As soon as you've decided to sell your home, put it on the market as soon as possible.
Photograph the Property Before the Landscaping Changes
Homes tend to look the most attractive when flowers are blooming, grass is green and lush, and the trees have leaves. Although you're trying to sell your home in fall, it's often better to take pictures of your home with a summer landscape. Take exterior pictures of your home as soon as possible. The earlier in the year, the better. This may require spending a day cleaning up your landscaping before calling out a photographer. The more time you spend improving your landscaping, the better. Some tips:
- Clean the siding with a hose to eliminate dirt, mold and mildew.
- Sweep away dead leaves on the sidewalks.
- Water the grass and shrubs well in the days leading up to the photographs, so that your grass is green and lush.
Finally, hire a professional photographer. Professional photographers know how to take pictures of homes in their best light and at good angles to make the property look spacious and attractive.
Market Your Home Creatively
Creative marketing is important at all times of the year, but it's especially important in the fall, when some buyers give up for the season. Your real estate professional will have creative suggestions for how to market your property. Some ideas:
- Make a home selling blog.
- Market on social media.
- Create a book about your home, to lay on the table during home sales.
- Make a virtual reality tour of your home.
- Take drone photography of your property.
- Create a website about your property.
Price Your Property to Sell
Pricing your property poorly is one of the most damaging things that you can do when you're trying to sell your house. Price it too high, and you could turn away serious buyers. Price it too low, and you could walk away from thousands of dollars in profit. A good real estate professional can analyze comparable properties in your area to help you decide what is an appropriate price for your home.
How to Prepare Your Home for Sale
There are many things you can do to prepare your home for a sale. Start these tasks in late summer, or even earlier, to ensure that the work is done properly when it's time to list your house.
Inspect and Repair Your Home
Pay for a professional home inspection, or perform a thorough inspection yourself. Either way, expect to make repairs. At this time of year, some common problems that can make homes less desirable include HVAC problems (like a defective furnace), insulation problems, condensation on the windows from high indoor humidity, and old windows that allow drafts into the home. Be prepared to complete home improvement projects like:
- Replace old HVAC equipment
- Seal ducts
- Replace caulking around windows
At the same time that you get a home inspection, consider getting a home energy audit. Improving your home's energy efficiency can also make your home more desirable to buyers. You should also make sure you doing property check.
Stage Your Home
Fall is a time when people want to feel cozy, warm and safe indoors. There are many subtle things you can do to make your home more attractive to buyers at this time of year.
- Place citrus and cinnamon potpourri around the home.
- Drape soft, warm throws and pillows on beds and couches, to show how snuggly and warm your home is in the evenings.
- Leave seasonal cookies on the table in the kitchen, with a pitcher of milk or a seasonal drink like hot cider.
Group couches and chairs so that visitors can sit and look at one another as they talk. This shows that your home can be good for entertaining at a time of year when people like to get together with family.
Fall Curb Appeal
The beautiful leaves falling from the trees around your house in autumn may have a beautiful charm, but buyers who take notice may worry about the maintenance they'll have to perform each year if they buy your home. To promote good curb appeal, keep leaves off the ground and rake before each showing. Some more tips:
- Prune back overgrown shrubs.
- Plant autumn-blooming flowers.
- Remove debris like dead leaves and annuals from garden beds.
Fall Real Estate Staging Tips
Staging is important at all times of the year, but especially in fall, when homeowners start looking into the home for signs of comfort. Clutter is a particular problem in the darkness of fall and winter. You can improve the appearance of your home by cleaning, decluttering, lightening your home and performing other tasks.
Clean and Declutter Your Home
Decluttering can take a lot of time, so if you need to do extensive decluttering before listing your house for sale, get started as soon as possible.
- Organize any clutter that's out on counters or tables.
- Recycle or throw away clutter that is visible to home buyers.
- Give away unneeded items to charity.
- Hold a garage sale.
Add Extra Light
Turn on all lights in the house for showings. Homes are darker in the fall and winter, so use of artificial light in the evening becomes more important. Replace burned-out light bulbs to ensure each room appears bright and beautiful, and strategically place lamps in problem areas of the home so every room is well-lit.
Light a fire in your gas fireplace, if your real estate agent is able to stay in the room with the fireplace throughout the showing. This shows that your fireplace is safe and workable, and also creates a warm glow in your home.
Some home sellers will light candles in their home during showings. The best way to stay fire-safe is to use electric candles.
Theme the Home Seasonally
Minimize your use of holiday decorations, and keep them tasteful. Avoid scary Halloween decorations, but feel free to hang a festive fall wreath on your wall or door.
Contact a Licensed Real Estate Agent
If you're a homeowner who hopes to sell your home this fall, contact a licensed real estate agent in your area. Home buyers change their behaviors throughout the year, but if you're working with a real estate agent, you'll have someone on your side who understands buyer expectations. Contact a real estate agent who has extensive experience selling homes in your area at all times of year. With help from a professional, selling your home may be a better experience overall.