Every local market has its own buying and selling cycle, but conventional wisdom tells us that real estate generally hits an upswing in the spring. As the market suddenly gets more competitive, buyers and sellers are more likely to feel the pressure. So here are some quick tips for taking the headache out of spring real estate.
The region makes a difference. Cold weather cities like Chicago, for example, won’t see a surge as early as warmer spots like Washington, D.C. Other factors, like district school schedules and summer breaks, can influence the habits of home buyers and also account for longer or shorter selling seasons. No matter where you live, timing is everything. If you list too early, you might not have many interested parties, but if you list too late you could miss the prime buying period.
Whatever steps you take, try to look at the market from a buyer’s point of view. Do some sleuthing. I’m working with and sponsored by Owners.com, which is a great place to start because you can browse local listings and even price your house with their home value estimator. And don’t be afraid to talk to local sellers. Drop by a neighborhood open house and assess the situation as if you were thinking about making an offer. Then strike up a conversation with the sellers and see what you can learn about their experience (e.g., what they’ve learned about their market, what kind of buyers they’re attracting, who has helped them along the way, etc.). You’d be surprised how much you can learn from just talking to people.
If you’ve decided on a timeline for listing your home, make sure you address the little things sooner rather than later. Spot the missing shingles before potential buyers do. Fix the leaky faucet or chipped paint and don’t forget to inspect your foundation.
If you do the work first, not only will you sleep more soundly, but you’ll give prospective buyers one less thing to pick apart. In a recent survey from Owners.com, 74% of consumers said they anticipate stress from unexpected problems found during an inspection. So before listing, consider getting your property inspected and share the report with potential home buyers. At the very least, it gives you some time to fix necessary issues, puts people at ease and helps you feel more secure about your asking price.
No matter the season, don’t underestimate the power of curb appeal. It all circles back to this simple, often overlooked advice: think like the buyer. I’ve heard time and again about potential home buyers who won’t even step inside to look at the home because the exterior is unattractive. So clean up the clutter on the lawn and plant some fresh flowers. If the front door feels drab, give it an update by adding new overhead light fixtures, updated house numbers, or a fresh coat of paint. Hide or camouflage electric boxes and AC units. Be as objective as possible, and use that eye to make your home better.
So you’ve learned a thing or two about your local market, got a pre-inspection and even gave your house a makeover. Great. Now it’s time to get the word out.
Start by marketing your home on a site like Owners.com, where you can also get your property listed on the MLS (multiple listing service) to reach other potential buyers. Next, make your property stand out with professional photography and a well-written property description. Every house has its “good side” – your job is to capture it. That means avoiding photos where snow buries the garden or a gray sky looms overhead. Wait for a sunny day, and put any new additions or upgrades front-and-center.
As for descriptions, be specific, honest and even a little colorful. Know your audience and use this as an opportunity to “talk” to them. For example, emphasize the home’s open floor plan and entertaining spaces or its standout location. Once you’ve tailored your listing, share it through your social media channels. Be sure not to spam friends or followers – instead, trust your network to help spread the word for you.
Apply all of these tips and techniques, and you’ll find yourself reaching the right buyers in no time.
Photos courtesy of iStockphoto.com
This post is sponsored advertising content with Owners.com. All opinions are my own.