Homeowners who have been sitting on the sidelines mulling whether or not to jump into the market, housing experts offer the following advice: jump in.
Existing home sales jumped 6.5% in August to the highest level in four years and homebuilder confidence also climbed to its highest level since 2005 for the month. Whether the market continues to thrive once the Federal Reserve begins tapering its monetary policy remains to be seen, but experts say buyers are looking to act fast to take advantage of low mortgage rates, so sellers should be ready.
“It’s been this way for awhile, and there are more and more homebuyers and in many cases not enough inventory,” says Stephanie Bellanova, a broker-owner at ERA Central Realty Group in Central New Jersey says. “This is a push for sellers who want to get in there.”
If you’re looking to list your home, here are a few things you can do to get your property ready to list:
Think Like the Buyer
Discrimination Still Exists in Housing in More Subtle Ways
Boomers in the City: Questions to Ask Before Relocating
All-Cash Offers: Sign of Stability or Long-Term Drag?
Death of the Suburb: Why Americans are Flocking to Cities
Is 27 the New 18? Living at Home with Mom and Dad
Real Estate’s Hot New Commodity: Parking Spots
Broke, Unemployed and Living in Mom’s Basement: Millennials Change the Dating Game
Are Open Houses a Waste of Sellers’ Time?
Many homeowners aren’t able to identify potential flaws in their home, says Bellanova.
“Look at your house through the buyers’ eyes,” she recommends. “We are blind to the things we pass every day, like a stain on the carpet. Put on your buyer’s hat—it can really help you see things you don’t normally look at.”
Many of the things that make a property feel like “home” to its current owner may turn off potential buyers, adds Adam Leitman Bailey, founder of New York City-based realtors Adam Leitman Bailey P.C.
“The things that you think make it a great place to live look like trash to the average buyer,” he says. “They need to envision themselves in that space, not you living there.”
Tip: Open all blinds to let natural light in the space when showing a home, Bellanova recommends.
Invest for Bigger Returns
Many buyers aren’t looking to invest in a “fixer-upper,” says Leitman Baile, so taking care of issues like broken air conditioners, leaky faucets or tiles on the roof, can go a long way in attracting more buyers and increasing a home’s value.
“All of those things can sometimes cause buyers to walk away, because they don’t want to deal with the problem or over estimate the cost of repairs,” he says.
Even investing a few thousand dollars for fresh paint in and on your home, can bring major returns. “It’s amazing how a little bit of money in the home pays off so much more,” he says. “I have seen $5,000-to-$10,000 in painting bring in an extra $100,000.”
Focus on the Kitchen, Bathrooms
These rooms are what sell homes, according to Keith Robinson, chief operating officer, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie. When putting your home up for sale, this is where you should pay extra attention and even spend a bit of money to make sure they’re up to date and clean.
“The more you can do to maximize those areas, the better you are,” Robinson says. “If you haven’t recently remodeled, you should find a smart economical way to show it as well as possible. They have the most fizzle and sexy—a bedroom is just a bedroom.”
Boost Curb Appeal
Many sellers spend the majority of their time readying the inside of their homes before listing, but Bellanova cautions not to forget the outside of your home.
“Impressions begin from the moment [potential buyers] get out of their car and are walking to your front door,” she says. “Make sure the bushes are trimmed back, everything is weeded and mulched, the doors and entryways are painted and more. The walk up to the house needs to be fresh.”
Have the Right Team in Place
Be sure your brokers are effective and can move quickly, says Leitman Bailey, as many buyers are making offers within 24 hours of viewing a home.
“You would be surprised at how many deals are blown because people don’t have their calls returned, or contracts don’t go out before the weekend,” he says.