Autumn is increasingly becoming a hot sales season, ranking just behind summer in the annual hierarchy. Many people travel less and kids are in school. There can be a bit more urgency to sell in the fall, with the holidays looming and days-on-market stacking up. This can lead to some deals for buyers and easier negotiations.
There are a few things a seller should know about selling homes on the market in September, October and November. This checklist should help you as you prepare to get that property off the market by Thanksgiving.
1. Keep it neat
Leaves, limbs and dead plants are one of the biggest killers of curb appeal, and in the fall they are plentiful. You may want to hire a service, if necessary, to pick up leaves (not just mow over them) at least once a week while they're falling heavily. Switch out browning summer flowers for pots of hardy mums or marigolds. Some "fall decorating" is acceptable, but keep it tame. Not everyone loves the cornstalk-and-scarecrow motif. Keep exterior Halloween decorations tasteful and minimize the amount of time they are out, though a family atmosphere certainly will appeal to a number of clients.
2. Keep an eye on the details
Fall is a good time to give a listed house a good exterior scrub. Summer rains have probably streaked the windows, you may want to get them professionally washed. Sweep and perhaps even rearrange outdoor entertaining areas. With the focus switching from barbecues to fire pits, to optimize and show off the versatility of their outdoor space. Now also might be a good time to update the photos on the home's online listing, as well, to show its versatility and give those who may have passed on it once another reason to consider the property.
3. Safety first
Fireplaces, wood stoves and furnaces can make a home comfortable and cozy when the weather turns chilly, but they are also some of the biggest safety hazards in a home, and certainly potential stumbling blocks when it comes to inspections and negotiations. You may want to have your chimneys swept, fireplaces tested, wood stoves inspected and furnaces serviced before they are put into use (that means do it now). Remember to keep the paperwork. Potential buyers will like to see that these things have been done prior to sale.
4. Court the senses
Of all of the seasons, fall has the most obvious color palette, inspired by the leaves and plants changing all around us. Shifting a listing's decor can be as easy as buying a few new throw pillows for furniture, switching out runners and centerpieces on tables or adding a nice hanging arrangement on the front door. Deep reds, oranges and yellows are ideal. While you're at it, switch out those floral-smelling plugins for candles or burners that evoke fall. Stay away from pumpkin, but almost anything apple and/or cinnamon is nice! If you're holding an open house, choose an easy-listening album or instrumental artist. Bake treats that match the season as well... pumpkin flavor is just fine here.
5. Consider the sun
No matter where you live in the United States, there is going to be less sunlight in each day as the fall goes along. And when Daylight Savings Time ends, it's really going to get dark early. Take this opportunity to invest in lighting. Make sure interior lights are positioned to really shine from the street, and that they're bright enough to stand out. Exterior lights should be timed to come on before dusk, so potential buyers out checking listings can see the property at any time. And remember to make sure your For Sale sign can be seen after dark!
6. Remember: Winter is coming
Depending on where you live, your winter preparations should probably begin mid-fall, if not earlier, especially if you want to keep your home on the market through the holidays (but that's a different article altogether). That means stocking up on items like ice-melting salt, making sure your roof is in proper shape to avoid ice dams and leaking, checking your insulation, and cleaning out the garage to make room for automobiles. You'll have enough to do once Thanksgiving gets here. Don't add these tasks to your December to-do list!