How to Sell a Home in Autumn
The fall real estate market is almost always a hot season. Home selling in autumn is the second-best time of the year to sell a home. Families have returned from summer vacations. Kids have gone back to school. The holidays aren't yet upon us, at least not yet in an annoying way. We are set to enjoy 75 to 80 days of normalcy, and that's a great time to sell a home.
In parts of the country with four seasons, we watch leaves explode in vibrant colors as for sale signs pop up in yards. People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop. It's not just sweater weather that creates static electricity in autumn; it's the scurrying of agents diligently working to pop a few more sales into the hopper before third-quarter sales results are posted. Here are some great tips for attracting the autumn home buyer:
Clean Up the Yard
Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don't let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cut away summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.
Create Autumn Curb Appeal
The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. I am also partial to marigolds for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. Accent with pumpkins or other types of squash.
Dress the Windows
Rain and wind from over the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by autumn. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level. To sell a home, your windows need to sparkle. Even though I am not selling my home, my cats routinely rub their little noses on the inside glass while walking along window ledges, so I need to wash my windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens and spray them down.
Check the HVAC
You want the air inside your home to smell fresh. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? You can buy 90-day furnace filters. Have the HVAC system checked before you need to turn on the heat. Besides, the buyer will ask a home inspector to look at your HVAC. If you discover problems with your furnace, it's better to fix them before your home goes on the market.
Clean Out the Fireplace for the Fall Real Estate Market
Ah, nothing smells like autumn than smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. However, in some parts of the country, burning wood indoors or outdoors is outlawed. In Sacramento, we have certain days when we are not allowed to burn wood in the fireplace. If you have a gas fireplace, light it when buyers come through. If the fireplace is filled with cobwebs because it hasn't been used for months, vacuum it out and wash it down. Some home stagers arrange knickknacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs.
Prepare Autumn Edibles
Speaking of autumn scents, you might set out freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Prop open a cookbook to an autumn stew. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.
Set the Mood for Fall Real Estate Musically
When thinking of autumn music, beyond "See You in September" and "California Dreamin'," polka music and accordions come to mind. German beer fests are always held in October. But that doesn't seem appropriate for autumn home selling unless you're entertaining a frat house. A home seller is better off with Enya's "The First of Autumn" or George Winston's new age piano album "Autumn."
Utilize Autumn Accent Colors
You don't need to dump a lifeless sofa when you can accessorize its dullness with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows. Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. After you've cleared away the clutter and depersonalized each room, bring a little bit of autumn hues to each room by placing bold-colored accent pieces in odd groupings such as 3's and 5's. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.
Turn on the Lights Everywhere
Above all, bring in the light. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture, and for goodness sakes, turn off the TV.
Offer Parting Treats to Potential Buyers
I like to leave a guest book by the door for people to leave comments about the home. Gathering buyer feedback can be crucial. And buyers will feel more compelled to leave you a note if you give them something in return, like tiny packets of candy corn or those snack-sized candy bars. Or you can go all-out and leave a tray of individually wrapped caramelized apples, tied with a curling ribbon.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.