Selling A House This Fall? Five Tips To Help Homeowners Close The Deal

With fall upon us, temperatures are cooling off but the real estate market is heating up. For people hoping to sell their homes before the end of the year, the clock is ticking. That’s because the market slows down significantly after Thanksgiving due to the holidays. And in parts of the country where all four seasons exist, the winter weather can keep sellers on the sidelines until March.

Faced with the short fall real estate season, there are steps sellers can take to increase their chances of closing the deal before December.

1. Don’t over-price your home: The fall real estate season lasts only about eleven weeks, and it is much shorter than the approximately six-month spring/summer season. While there are fewer homes on the market, there also aren’t as many buyers out there. Most families with children aren’t looking to move because they’re settling back into the school year. With that in mind, it’s very important that you price your home reasonably to attract the limited buyer pool.

2. Focus on your landscaping: In parts of the country where all four seasons exist, many properties look nice because of blooming trees and plantings in the spring. In the fall, Mother Nature isn't as cooperative. Leaves fall, gutters fill up, and keeping up the curb appeal of a property becomes more challenging. Sellers should make sure their grass looks great. Fall is the perfect time to rejuvenate grass from the hot summer. Start on that project in late September, and the lawn will green up beautifully. Second, keep leaves off the lawn as much as possible. Third, invest in mums and two or three medium-size pumpkins for the front stoop in October.

3. Be flexible about possession timing: One reason that many buyers purchase in the fall is that they want to be in their new house for the holidays. Even though you might want to spend one last holiday season in your home, you must be flexible in order to secure a contract. You need to be ready and willing to move on short notice. That means making sure you have temporary or permanent housing lined up before you put your home on the market.

4. Offer incentives to buyers: In addition to the down payment, a buyer also needs to put considerable funds into the transaction; state/county transfer taxes, lender fees, settlement attorney and home inspection fees. These expenses can often add up to about 2% of the purchase price. To help soften the blow, sellers should consider offering to pay a certain amount of lender-approved expenses for the buyer. This enables buyers to hold on to more of their money and invest in home improvements when they move in. This incentive could well be the deciding factor that sways a buyer to make an offer.

5. Be prepared to act quickly: In order to avoid keeping your home on the market through the winter, you must be motivated, flexible and creative. Buyers can be put off by a house that has been up for sale for an extended period of time. There is a risk that some of them will assume that the home hasn’t sold because it has significant flaws. To make sure your home doesn’t become shopworn in the eyes of the market, you must understand the best pricing and presentation strategies. That requires doing your homework about the comp prices for homes in the area and listening to the advice of your real estate agent. If you have a well-thought-out game plan and are ready to act quickly on your agent’s recommendations, you can lessen the chances of carrying your home well into 2019.

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