The amazing show of colors that Mother Nature displays may be the first thing that comes to mind during the fall season. But many people never realize that many home buyers are ready for a new house in autumn making it a perfect time to sell.
The old adage that spring is the hottest time to put your house on the market was always driven by the fact that families wanted to get everything settled and moved in before the kids started back to school in August and September.
“But there are many demographics that don’t worry about the school year,” says Anslie Stokes Milligan, realtor at The Stokes Group with McEnearney Associates in Washington, D.C. “For instance, we have trade-down buyers who are selling the family home they lived in for 20-30 years in the suburbs. They want to move back into the urban area that is walking distance to the museums, the Kennedy Center and to restaurants.”
There are also always buyers who are moving to a different part of the country and need to find a house quickly.
Sellers can count on people who are in a hurry to buy a house in the fall because they are anticipating the approaching holiday season. They dream of the big fireplace for their kiddos’ stockings and a big dining area for family and friends.
“We also see a lot of lateral buyers. If they lived in a $1 million home in Bethesda, then they are looking for a similar cost condo in the D.C. proper,” she says.
Right now in the U.S. capital just like many parts of the country, a housing shortage keeps prices high. In fact, she had a client trying to buy a $688,000 home with 11 offers. It sold for $750,000.
“But in a more balanced market, fall can give sellers the opportunity to not have so much competition with everyone else that was listing in the spring,” she says. “They can stand out because there aren’t as many new listings coming on.”
Also, thanks to the internet, people can find your home any time of year. Those who want to buy a home in the fall will know exactly what they are looking for and where to look for it. Make sure the photos of your home capture all the fantastic parts that will entice potential buyers.
Selling your house in the fall can also be a good idea because some people are looking to buy for tax purposes. People want to get into a home before the end of the year to take advantage of the many tax breaks that come along with buying a house, Milligan said.
If you do decide to sell in the fall, here are some ways to make sure you get the best price and best buyers:
Focus on curb appeal for autumn
“We always encourage our sellers to make sure the lawn looks as good as possible. Get it reseeded and pull out all the spring and summer plants that have died,” Milligan explains.
By putting in some colorful mums and other fall annuals and colors, your house is going to look its bestt. But don’t go really crazy with Halloween or Thanksgiving decorations while the house is on the market – it could turn some buyers off.
Make sure the interior has sufficient lighting
When the days are short and there are evening showings in the fall, Milligan encourages sellers to have at least three sources of light in each room even. For instance, a living room should have floor lamp and two table lamps.
You might even want to invest in a few battery-operated candles that offer a flickering, romantic light that doesn’t come with the danger of fire. Also, be sure that your existing light bulbs are working.
Clean, clean, clean
Make sure your windows are sparkling for potential buyers. Getting rid of all the clutter will definitely help with enticing people to buy your house. While cleaning, make sure you target every surface including doors, walkways, countertops, porches, bathrooms and carpets.
Highlight fall features of your home
If you have a cozy family room with a fireplace, light the fire for an open house or a showing, Milligan explains. “Highlight this room so they will spend a little more time there and check it all out.”
Also, put pillows and blanket throws on the couch and chairs to invite people in. Bake some chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon rolls to have that smell linger in the kitchen.