I know you are most likely thinking of Summer when you hear the word “hot”, but really the hot selling season is the Spring and for the Finger Lakes Area, it starts to wind up in mid February. (just around the corner). Why February? Well buyers know that if they are really serious, looking in February will allow them to find a property and start enjoying during the first available part of the Summer season. If they close before then, they will have time to freshen it up and furnish to their liking. I already have buyers looking for new property listings. If your home is listed at the beginning of the selling curve, you are most likely to obtain the highest selling price. Competition is the strongest during the Spring. So let me help you stay ahead of the crowd with the following tips below. The longer you wait to list, the more buyers there are that have decided on a home that is already listed. So lets get going… If you have decided to sell your property, hopefully you have started to interview agents. You should not just choose the person that has the most signs up or the one that says they sell the most. Your agent should be one that has the time to spend on your listing and you. I have a procedure in place that lets my sellers know, that I am still there for them even if it means updating them with no new information. Your agent should also work cooperatively with the other agents in the area. What does that mean? Well, it means that your agent along with yourself will make it convenient for other agents to show your home. Your home should have a lockbox . This allows the agent to prepare you for the showing and then allow the agent to have easy access for the keys to the property. If they have to run around and look for you or a time to pick up keys, they may just pass. If there is a lockbox, it is simple and easy for them and their clients to view your home. The best types of lock boxes are electronic ones. With this type, you can actually receive a notice as to how many times your home has been shown and your Realtor® will know exactly which Realtor® showed your home and what time. It is great for security purposes and feedback. Ask your agent if they use lockboxes and encourage them to use electronic ones. Every market is different, so when you interview agents, ask them when the market really gets hot. If you are in the Finger Lakes and they tell you it is all of the time, move on to the next agent. Yes, there are buyers in the area all year long, but the time of the year when the most fresh listings are available is early Spring or just before. Just before listing, you should be concentrating on cleaning and organizing. Start finding homes for all of those items that have taken up space.
- Go through your closets and remove items no longer needed. Put them in a container and take them to a consignment shop or donate them to a local organization. Since buyers will be opening up closets and cabinets, clean and organize all of your storage areas.
- Wash windows and mirrors, clean all of your lighting fixtures, at the minimum paint all of the little nicks on your trim.
- Now move into the bathroom and thoroughly clean from top to bottom. Does your shower need new caulking? Is one of your faucets missing a piece of the handle? Does your grout need to be cleaned and repaired? Are your light fixtures working properly?
- This may be the time to have your drapes cleaned and blinds dusted or cleaned. It is amazing how much dust they can accumulate over the Winter months.
- Basements and garages…During the cold months, it is so easy to just drop things as they are. This is the time to start putting items on racks and hanging things up on the wall to show more floor space. You do not want to give the appearance of no storage space.
You are going to be moving, so think of it as your preparation for moving. It will help when it comes time to hand over the keys. You will have less stuff to move that you needed to get rid of, your seasonal and extra items will already be packed away. All of your personal items will be boxed up and ready to be placed in your new home allowing move day to be less stressful for you. This leads into the next topic. Do you know what you will be doing once you sell your home? Do you have another home or will you be purchasing a home? Will you be renting and will it be in the same market? Do you have to sell your home before purchasing another? These are all serious items to consider. I have seen a seller’s happy face when they sign off on an accepted offer, turn into a face of horror. This is when it hits them as they realize they do not have a place to go to and they need a place to put their furnishing and stuff. So talk to your agent and let them know what your options might be. If you are moving to a different market, they can assist in finding a referral agent for you and help you define the new market in availability for rentals and purchases. You may need to speak with your financial person about options. Yes, you need a plan, an exit strategy from your current residence. If you can afford it, I always recommend a home inspection. And you thought the buyer always paid for a home inspection. Just think of the benefit when you can supply a prospective buyer with an inspection report and how the items that were identified were addressed. It is quite impressive to the buyers and you will have less to address at the last minute. It also leaves less for the buyer to negotiate over. So for between $400 and $600 dollars you can gain a small piece of mind and know what to address before hand. If you are in the Northeast like I am, you may want to go through some of your picture files to find any Spring or Summer pictures that show your home with green grass and flowers. If you are on a lake, you may want to find some pictures of your dock and lake front during the summer to really entice the buyers. A picture of your home with the dock stacked in pieces on the shoreline is just not attractive, or a dock with ice hanging from the sides like an apron…not enticing. Currently I am working with my sellers to prepare their homes to put on the market. I like to meet with them at least a month before the property is set to go on the market. This gives us time to set up a strategy for media options, gives them time to take care of repairs and staging and gives me an opportunity to have photos taken so that everything is set to go.