Ready, set … it’s the spring selling season
The snow has melted, the clocks have “sprung forward” and the longer daylight hours mean home buyers have started to come out of the woodwork.
Are you ready, Mr./ Ms. Homeowner, to showcase your showing- ready property?
Whether you realize it or not, we are pretty lucky here considering what it costs to live in other areas of the country.
According to the March issue of a regional business magazine, Dalton’s overall cost-of-living is 9.9 percent lower than the U.S. average Cost-of-Living Index, with our housing a whopping 24.1 percent below the U.S. average! If that’s not something to boast about, what is?
If housing is such a good buy in our area and more buyers are coming into the market, you ask, why hasn’t someone bought my property? Selling a house is all about marketing and you need to ask yourself, “Who is most likely to buy my house?” Will it be a young family? A down-sizing 50to 60-year-old couple whose children have graduated from college or married?
If you were either of these buyer types, what would you be looking for?
Does your house fit the profile of those buyers?
If you last updated your kitchen before the 1990s, you have décor that will rarely appeal to today’s buyers, young, middle-aged or older. Even if they could live with your grandmother’s floral wallpaper, they won’t likely have the money left over after closing to pay someone to take it off and re-do the ripped sheet rock. And that sweet young stay-at home mother with two small children will have no time to do it herself. That 20s to 30s young family needs a home that fits their needs now, so if you have any chance of selling your family homestead to a new, young family, it had better be ready. Likewise to those down-sizing purchasers, they have had their fill of college and redecorating expenses and they don’t want to do it again. Even if an older couple knows “how” to do it, they don’t “want” to do it.
But maybe your house is in top shape, updated and clean as a whistle. Why won’t it sell? Why isn’t anyone looking? Sometimes there are no good answers. I wish I had a crystal ball to help sellers. All of our subdivisions seem to go through cycles, sometimes they’re “hot,” other times they’re “cold.” So much depends on things over which we have no control, like local and national economic conditions, leaving patience and accurate pricing the only things we can affect.
Taking a broader view sometimes helps. National statistics report that more than 80 percent of today’s home buyers look online for several weeks before ever contacting a Realtor. This means that there are many potential purchasers out there already looking online for a home. How does your home look online? Do your online pictures show fall leaves, Halloween pumpkins or your extravagant Christmas decorations? Maybe your listing’s pictures were taken last summer and the grass is gloriously green. Have you checked the calendar lately?
Online sites may not post days-on-market, but it’s easy to figure out how long something’s been on the market by the listing’s pictures. If you want to show what your house looks like in different seasons, leave them on a table in the house or only add a few to the listing as supplementary photo shots.
Taking new photos allows you to showcase your house and any changes you might have made since it was listed. Maybe you’ve moved and the property is now vacant. Even if you had the house beautifully decorated, vacant house photos may showcase the house more accurately. You can always leave a few items to add color or pizzazz, like a pot of seasonal flowers at the front door, or a few pieces of furniture artfully arranged. There are some homes that look much better totally vacant, devoid of their owner’s mismatched belongings.
Sometimes having a professional “stage” a home with updated accessories or furniture is worth the money and helps buyers visualize a home’s possibilities.
If you’ve sold a home before and think you can manage another sale this spring without the help of a professional Realtor, let me be the first to warn all potential for sale by owners that major closing changes are coming later this summer. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new disclosure rules will completely change the home-buying process as it’s known today with the implementation of new disclosures and forms beginning Aug. 1.
Realtors and closing attorneys are already preparing for the changes and have raised concerns about its implementation. Without professional guidance, potential closing delays, contract cancellations and purchaser defaults could occur. Entrusting your single most important asset into the hands of a professional Realtor will become even more important as we move toward these new regulations.
Carolyn Roan is the former president of the Carpet Capital Association of Realtors and a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Kinard Realty.