By Debbie Gardner
LONGMEADOW – When is the best season to try and sell your home? Contrary to popular belief, it might be right around the corner.
“They always talk about the spring market, about getting your house ready for the spring selling period,” Cate Shea, a realtor with the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Longmeadow, said. “In many, many years, I’ve had the end of the year be the biggest selling time for people purchasing homes.”
Shea said the fall season, with its beautiful natural color scheme and the opportunities for sellers to deck out their homes for upcoming holidays, could actually boost interest in properties.
“Everyone wants to get in [to that new home] for Christmas, or for the New Year, or even for Thanksgiving,” she said.
Show it to advantage
Shea said if you are considering putting your home on the market during the fall, there are a few simple steps to take to ensure it has the potential to wow a buyer.
What’s the view from the street?
Shea said it’s important to look at your overall property with a buyer’s eye. Sellers, she noted, should ask themselves, “Does the yard look well-maintained?” Making certain the lawn is mowed and edged, the shrubs are trimmed, flower beds are weeded and any debris has been picked up can go a long way to making sure your home makes a good first impression.
How does the front door look?
Shea said a potential buyer’s first impression of the property is reinforced as they approach the front door.
“If they walk up to the front door and the paint is peeling, and the steps are cracked, [buyers] are going to start to wonder what the rest of the house is like,” she said.
What’s the inside like?
Again, Shea said it’s important to look at your home not like its owner, but like a potential buyer
“One of the biggest things is to declutter,” Shea said, emphasizing that in that decluttering, it’s a good idea to put away a lot of the family photos.
Photo collections, she said tend to make potential buyers “focus on who lives there rather than that the walls are pearl grey with tan trim.”
How does it smell?
According to Shea, another area that home sellers need to sharpen up is odor control.
“If you smoke in the home, stop,” she said, adding that it’s a good idea to have carpets shampooed if the home either has smokers, or pets, in residence. If the carpets are old or frayed, and the homeowner knows there are hardwood floors underneath, Shea said they should consider removing the carpeting altogether before showing the home.
“With hardwood, you walk in and its just such a cleaner look,” she said.
How is the bathroom, and the kitchen?
Shea said both of these rooms are very important to potential buyers.
“The kitchen is the most important room,” Shea said. “It can be very expensive to update it, but there are small things you can do, such as changing out the [cabinet] hardware.”
It’s also important to make sure the kitchen is decluttered and “squeaky-clean” when showing the house.
In the bath, Shea said, make sure, again, it’s clean, and that there aren’t any unsightly areas, such as broken tile or discolored grout or caulking. Touching up that grout or caulking are inexpensive fixes that will help the home show better. If the tub looks bad, she said it might be worth exploring having it refinished.
“There are companies out there that can refinish a tub and it looks beautiful,” she noted.
What about the basement?
Shea said sellers need to think about decluttering this area of the house, too, as well as checking to insure it shows in the best light.
“If you have an older furnace, show that it has been serviced regularly,” Shea said, adding that it’s also important to check for signs of water leaks, which can scare off potential buyers.
Is it snoop-ready?
Shea said potential buyers are going to be curious about such things as water pressure and closet space.
“Be aware that buyers are likely to turn the water on and flush the toilets, and also open cabinet doors and closets,” she said.
Should you get an inspection?
Shea said if your home is in good condition and you know the age of the roof, that the electrical system is up to date, the plumbing is in good condition and there are no insect problems, a preliminary inspection may not be necessary. If a seller has any questions about the home’s structure, systems or potential insect damage however, a preliminary inspection might be a good idea.
“It can remove the surprise of an inspector coming in and finding things [that are] wrong,” Shea said.
If the home needs work on a small – or large – scale, Shea said the seller should consult with a realtor about how those repairs can be accomplished and still show the home in the best light.
She also indicated that in some cases, a seller might need to be prepared to negotiate closing costs with the buyer to accommodate repairs.
Let a realtor help
Shea said though there are individuals who have successfully sold their homes on their own, it’s likely they did not get the best price possible for their property. Minor issues, such as the seller’s color scheme, can affect how potential buyers value the property.
“There are a lot of buyers that can’t look beyond what they see,” Shea said. “You need to be working with an agent that has vision and can help buyers see how to make [your house] their own.”
Shea said working with a realtor to make certain your property is prepared to show in the best light, and is properly priced, can help your home “sell much closer to the asking price.”
She added, “The pool of buyers is always out there, spring, summer, fall, even in the dead of winter.”