The summer months see the housing market’s peak in activity, so it is a great time to sell your home. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged if your home is on the market and you haven’t yet closed a sale. There are still plenty of opportunities to sell in the summer, and you will see fewer competitors than during the frenzied spring season. Make sure you are maximizing your chances by taking advantage of the outdoor and indoor features that buyers will look for in warm weather. Chances are there is something you can do to make your home a more attractive purchase.
Have Great Listing Photos
Make sure your listing has great photos attached that reflect the current season. Photos of your house in the snow, no matter how glistening, will turn off summer buyers. In many cases, the first photo makes the prospective buyer decide whether he wants to seek more information about the listing. Nearly nine out of 10 buyers will not seek more information about a property if it does not post a listing photo.
Most agents will agree that the quality of the photos is more important than quantity, but you should try to have a photo to go with every main point in your listing. Make sure you have attractive exterior shots and choose photos that highlight outdoor areas. Focus indoor attention on the living room, kitchen and master bedroom.
Do not use photo editing tools to alter the appearance of your home. Photography-savvy buyers will immediately recognize, and be wary of, disingenuous pictures. And you are likely to disappoint others when they arrive to look at the home if they have a different impression of what they would find.
Read this article for a guide to avoiding listing photo mistakes.
Create Curb Appeal
Think of your curb appeal as the powerful first impression your home will give viewers when it first comes into sight—all the way to your front door. When it comes to selling your home, it is OK to compare yourself to others. Your yard should have unique touches, but not stand out significantly from the rest of the block.
Make sure driveways or walkways are free of dirt and debris. Power washing the driveway and sidewalk around your house can give your property a polished look that will attract buyers. Power washers are relatively inexpensive to rent and easy to use.
Prospective purchasers also will look more closely at your porch and patio during the warmer months. If you don’t have a deck, set up small table and chairs to create the illusion of an outdoor room. This will show that your home is an inviting place that welcomes guests, and buyers who plan to spend time outdoors will see that there is a comfortable place to do it.
Check out this article for more ways to enhance your curb appeal.
Prepare the Yard
After last spring — which was a wet and chilly one — you can expect to find some dirt and debris in your yard. Perhaps you’ve raked dried leaves and branches, and disposed of garbage that wandered onto your property. But take a second look and make sure you cleaned the yard thoroughly, which could include pruning tree branches or shrubs. Overgrown vegetation may block the windows or path to the entrance, which reduces the sunlight that travels into your home.
Lawn maintenance is key if your house is listed for sale. Make sure the lawn is freshly mowed and weeded at all times—about twice per week to be safe. If your exterior has little-to-minimal landscaping, consider planting some relatively mature flowers or shrubs.
Read this article for more tips about caring for your lawn during the summer.
Wash the Windows
Open the curtains and blinds during your showing. This will give you another opportunity to show off your outdoor view, while brightening your home inside and creating a pleasant ambiance. Buyers will be drawn to your home when it lets in more sunlight, but also more aware of flaws. They may not notice an occasional, tiny smudge, but it is better to be rid of them completely.
Clean your windows thoroughly—both inside and out. Make sure all coverings are clean, dry and newly pressed. Wipe dust off the blinds or toss them into a soapy bathtub for a quick wash. If any of these need upgrading, now is the time to invest.
BobVila.com has some additional tips for cleaning your windows.
Keep it Cool with Color
You should change your decoration scheme to complement the season. Add vivid blue decor items for a calming effect that will make your visitors dream of a relaxing day at the ocean. Replace dark-colored accent pillows and throw rugs with brighter, summer hues.
Check out Martha Stewart’s 60 ideas for decorating your home in the summer.
If you have a pool in your backyard, your home is automatically suited to sell in the summer. Owning a pool is not essential in the Baltimore area, but if you’ve got one then why not make it a selling point? Highlight your pool during showings, which means it must be clean and free of debris. Lining up lounge chairs and umbrellas along the poolside is a great way to give it a resort feeling.
Check out these helpful tips for selling a home with a pool.
Turn on the Air Conditioning
Plan to dial back the thermostat to a comfortable temperature if you are selling your home this summer. Somewhere in the range of 70-72 degrees is probably your safest bet at pleasing the largest number of people. Remember that it will take time for the temperature to drop to its desired levels, so if you plan to turn off the AC when you’re not showing the home, you will need to adjust the temperature an hour or so before each showing. Just be careful—you’ll want to make sure it’s not so cold that potential buyers will be searching for their sweaters, but cool enough that they won’t want to head back out into the heat.
Upgrade and Update
By no means should you replace everything in your home with its newest version, but your home should not contain appliances that are visibly outdated or don’t function properly. If the buyer gets the impression that he has to perform major renovations or replace a lot of items, it may deter him from making an offer. As the quality of your appliances increases, so does your home’s value. However, you need to consider whether the increase exceeds the investment in new equipment. The highest-yielding returns on modern appliances come from the kitchen.
The master bedroom should appeal to both men and women, so remove any décor that is too gender specific. If the paint has worn thin, refresh it with a new coat. Check doorknobs and light switches to see they look new and work easily. Take the time now to take care of anything you know won’t pass a home inspection, like a leaky faucet or faulty garbage disposal. It usually costs less to fix things before a home inspection, so completing repairs now will save money down the line and ensure a quicker sale.
Check out these shopping tips for your new appliances.
Make Sure Your Home is Realistically Priced
There is almost nothing that will make your home sit longer on the market than asking for too much money. When sellers see a property listed sky-high, most of the time they won’t bother even looking at it. Your home needs to list similarly to comparable properties in your area.Have some faith in the market, and don’t ask for much larger sums than you realistically expect to receive. The Baltimore real estate market in the city, county and metro area has a relatively stable sale-to-list price. Buyers in this market will see that many properties sell for somewhere around the asking price, so if you ask for too much — thinking that you will have room to negotiate downward — you might just have discouraged potential buyers.
Zillow offers these suggestions for pricing your home to sell.
Use Social Media
Your real-estate agent will ensure that your Baltimore home is listed on its website, as well as major real-estate search engines like Zillow and Trulia, which will draw attention from people searching for a home like yours. However, you can spread the word about your home through social sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Most social media sites get more traffic during the summer months. People sign on to post pictures of their vacations, weekend getaways or other outdoor activities. You can use these sites to link to your listing, or even post a video about your home. Chances are good that at least one of your contacts will know someone in the market for a new Baltimore home.
Be Ready for the Show
The more stringent you are with your showing hours, the fewer potential buyers that will walk through your door. You should offer times that are convenient for people’s work schedules, which means quite a broad range of times. Some people like to skip out of work early to enjoy the summer weather, while others are active until later hours because it is still light outside. Always be ready for a last-minute request to show your home.
Being prepared means being squeaky clean—you never want to turn a potential buyer away because your home isn’t in showable condition. That means it is clean to professional standards and that the beds are made, the dishes are out of the sink, the laundry is away, towels are folded, jackets or sweaters are in closets, and more. Even though you likely won’t be home for a showing, greet buyers like you would party guests. A cool pitcher of lemonade in the summer can offer a refreshing treat, while helping buyers enjoy the home a little bit longer.
It’s way too soon for panic mode. Remember that people go on vacation, have to watch over children who are home from school, and are engaged in other summer activities. It just might take time for people to clear their schedule to look at a home, especially if they are not on a time crunch.
Don’t expect everyone who sees your home to bid, and don’t expect that everyone will bid reasonably. On the other hand, keep your ego in check and work with a buyer if he is making reasonable negotiations.
For more advice on selling in summer, contact the expert agents at the Harriett Wasserman Team. I look forward to being part of the team that helps you sell (or buy) your Baltimore home.