While it’s common knowledge that the best time to sell a home is from spring through early summer, what if that timing just doesn’t work for you and your only choice is selling a home in the fall? Life happens, and when something like a job offer that’s too good to resist comes your way in the fall, it may be time to pack up and go. Don’t despair, plenty of homes sell in the fall. But you need to be smart about how you go about it.
A study by Redfin actually shows homes listed in the winter are more likely to sell, sell faster, and sell at a higher percent of asking price when compared to homes listed in the spring or summer. That said, you will have to be realistic when you set your list price.
There are definitely fewer buyers shopping for a new home in the fall, but they are also typically more serious. While spring time brings out “window” shoppers that may buy in a few years, the fall brings out primarily shoppers that need to buy immediately. They aren’t messing around, and you shouldn’t either. The longer your house sits on the market, the more stale your listing becomes. Fewer buyers means pricing your home realistically is critical to getting it under contract and getting the sale done.
You must face the realities of the season and be proactive about turning those realities to your advantage. Besides pricing it correctly, here are the most important things you can do when selling a home in the fall for a positive impact on accomplishing a faster sale and higher price.
#1 Shorter Days = Darker Homes ~ Make sure your windows are sparkling clean and window treatments stay open to allow as much natural light into the home as possible. Many buyers can only go see homes after work, and by then the light is fading. So also make sure you have plenty of floor and table lamps that will illuminate your rooms with cheerful, welcoming light.
#2 Winter is Coming ~ Don’t wait until the cold is here before you check out your heating system. You don’t want a buyer who shows up during that first cold snap to be turned off because your heater isn’t working. Have your system serviced and replace all your air filters at the beginning of fall.
#3 Leaf and Limbs ~ While it can feel like an impossible task to stay ahead of falling leaves and the debris that falls into your yard and gutters during autumn rain storms, you just have to give it your best shot. When a buyer pulls up to a home that has a mess in the front yard, all they can see is the work required to clean it up. They will totally miss the fact that you have a lovely yard. If you don’t have time to keep it tidy, hire someone to do it for you. This cannot be stressed enough!
#4 Cheerful Welcome ~ The leaves may be falling or already gone, but fall flowers are lovely and welcoming and can inject a shot of color to contribute to a positive first impression. Replace your summer planting beds with mums or pansies, and add some in a pot or two by the front door. The impact will be immediate and provide an amazing amount of bang for the buck.
#5 Light Up the Outside ~ Most buyers have an immediate, gut response to a home when they pull up to the curb. It’s critically important that you have a positive response initially, or you are fighting an uphill battle as they go through the house. The difference between a dark home and one that is enhanced with outdoor lighting is striking. While there are expensive options that deliver a big WOW effect, there are also a host of other less expensive options that can still help your home stand out from the competition and make a positive first impression.
While the above tips are unique to selling a home in the fall or winter, you also need to keep in mind the time tested advice Realtors give to their seller clients no matter what time of the year they put their homes on the market. Declutter, take care of deferred maintenance, and replace or refinish worn out flooring. Following all these guidelines, selling a home in the fall should be as successful as selling a home in the spring or summer.