It took long enough after a rainy April, but spring has finally sprung. And, along with the sunny skies and the daffodils comes the traditional spring housing market. Sellers know that it’s the busy season, so they clean out their closets, put out some flowers, and bring their properties to market. (Read this for five ways to sell your home fast.)
Buyers, meanwhile, are excited by the new inventory, and so they run around shopping, knowing that they’ll have more properties to choose from than at any other time.
It works out for everybody … except sellers who miss the boat.
Why You Should Sell Before August
Wayne Gomes, a real estate agent in Burlingame, Calif., put out a report urging sellers to get on the market now to get the best possible prices. “Sell before August if possible,” Gomes said in the report. “June and July are better months to sell your home, apartment building, commercial real estate, or any investment property.” Is this just real estate industry puffery? Gomes argues no, pointing to prices in his area as measured by the Case-Shiller housing index: up 3% in June, up 5% in July, down 3% in August.
(For how exactly a real estate agent would go about getting your house sold, click here.)
If You’re Selling Now, This Is Your Big Shot—Make It Count
Make sure you do the following:
- Wash your windows. After the heavy rains seen in some parts of the country, windows can get streaky and muddy. Get out the squeegee and clean the panes. While you’re at it, wash your screens as well. If the windows need to be disassembled a little in order to be properly cleaned, it’s worth paying a handyman to do this. If you only have the time or money to do one room, do the living room.
- Clip your grass. One of my old college friends in Atlanta once sent me a note that said, “Sheesh, our neighbors just put their house up for sale, and they didn’t even mow the lawn!” This is a big, bad mistake. Many house hunters will drive by a property to see how it looks from the street even before they drop into an open house. You want your home to look neat and inviting. A HomeGain.com survey found that the cost of landscaping a property averages around $540, while the return to the sellers is around $1,932.
- Air out your place. A house or apartment closed up for the winter can smell musty, even if there are no serious mold or mildew problems. Go ahead and open a couple of windows and run a fan to get a nice shot of fresh air in. Also, while you’re at it, make sure your can’t smell your pets. No matter how much you love them, you don’t want a cat box smell, the stink of a doggy sofa, or just the smell of pet food to be the first thing that greets a potential buyer. Ask a neighbor or a Realtor to do a sniff test if you’re not sure.
- Watch your pricing. Since you know this is the time to sell, give yourself three or four weeks to decide if you need to chop your prices (namely, if you aren’t seeing any offers you like within that time). If you know you have some wiggle room, you want to offer that to potential buyers in the spring, not in August while they’re all at the beach.