Take advantage of the peak home-selling season.
If you’re thinking spring or summer is the ideal time to put your house on the market, you’re certainly not the only one. Real estate information site Zillow reports home sellers make the most money and sell fastest in the first two weeks of May, with July and June, respectively, serving as the next best months to list your home. While the market may be as hot as the weather this time of year, there are still some key steps you shouldn’t skip — and details you should know about — before selling your property in spring and summer.
There are more buyers.
The change of seasons naturally encourages people to start thinking about options to move to a new home, and for homebuyers who are financially ready, that’s certainly the case. Many buyers may also be excited to move forward with a home purchase knowing that mortgage interest rates aren’t expected to climb particularly high in the near future. In March, the Federal Reserve confirmed its plans to not increase interest rates from the current 2.5% for the remainder of 2019. While mortgage rates vary based on the individual financial history and current market conditions, the Fed’s decision helps many first-time homebuyers start shopping for a home confidently.
There is more competition among sellers.
A seasonal influx of buyers certainly won’t go unnoticed by other homeowners. Many sellers wait to put their house on the market in the spring with hopes of a higher number of potential buyers. But they also choose to hold off because it makes sense to sell, find a new place to live and move before summer ends — especially if school-age kids live in the home. Keep the extra competition in mind as you prepare your house for the market. Consider checking out open houses in your neighborhood to see what nearby homes look like inside, what price they’re listed for and how your home measures up.
This year won’t be the same as last year.
The spring and summer months tend to be the most active for home sales, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always see home prices climb year over year. While some markets are still as hot as ever, places like San Francisco and Seattle have slowed significantly, with home values even dropping slightly compared to recent years when houses couldn’t stay on the market more than a couple days, says Skylar Olsen, director of economic research for Zillow. Even if you live in a more moderate housing market, expect a slower pace than previous years. “It’s still in the whole scope of history a seller’s market, but it’s not quite as extreme as it was,” Olsen says.
Your buyer may be on a specific timeline.
Spring and summer are ideal for many buyers not just because the weather’s nice, but also because the timing gets them moved before fall, explains Dario Cardile, vice president of growth for real estate brokerage Owners.com. That said, if your house goes under contract in early May, the buyer may ask for a delay in closing or move-in until the school year finishes or his current home has sold. Alternatively, a buyer later in summer may be looking to close quickly and move in under a month. Remain flexible to keep the deal running smoothly, and your buyer may be willing to throw in concessions, like covering some of your closing costs or overlooking the old roof.
The market varies from city to city.
As housing markets are shifting, you should expect to see more differences from city to city. “Last year and the year before, everyone’s story was a little bit more similar than it is now,” Olsen says. Tracking national housing information can be valuable, but for an understanding of the housing market and how it pertains to the sale of your home, focus on the local market only. If homebuyers start house hunting later in summer, for example, your real estate agent may suggest holding more open houses, adjusting the asking price or even waiting to put it on the market.
Landscaping can make a difference.
Green grass and blooming trees help your home’s exterior look its best for photos and open houses, but that doesn’t mean you should let nature do all the work. Keep your grass cut, plant fresh flowers and trim shrubs or bushes that have a tendency to grow into walkways. If your grass didn’t return from the winter as green as it could be, you may want to consider new sod to improve your curb appeal.
More days on the market doesn’t spell doom.
No one wants their house sitting on the market for months with little buyer activity, but don’t be afraid of a house that needs a few weeks — or even a couple months — to find the right buyer. The median days on market for properties nationwide ebbs and flows throughout the year, and it changes as conditions shift more slowly to a buyer’s market. Real estate brokerage Redfin reports the median number of days on the market for U.S. housing hit its lowest point last year in June at just 35 days. In March 2019, the median number of days on the market was 49. While you can expect that median to drop again during the spring and summer, you’ll likely see more houses sitting on the market as buyers are more selective.
You may have to lower your asking price.
You may have watched friends and family sell their homes in previous spring seasons with multiple offers on the first day and above the list price. In many parts of the U.S., however, that part of the real estate cycle is over. Instead, you may find your real estate agent recommending a drop in the asking price to ensure the right buyers are touring your property. “That initial list price needs to come down,” Olsen says.
Some staging is required.
As with your home’s exterior, there’s no reason to slack off when it comes to preparing your house to impress would-be buyers. “Staging is one of the things that is very important,” Cardile stresses. That means decluttering the house, emptying closets to make them appear larger, moving some furniture to storage to help rooms look bigger and keeping counters clear and show-ready at all times.
Some projects can be DIY.
It’s common for real estate agents to recommend that home sellers repaint some rooms, clean the carpet and power-wash the deck or driveway. Fortunately, many of these smaller projects can become a do-it-yourself task that requires minimal cash to get your home looking fresh. But taking on a task yourself doesn’t mean it’s OK to get sloppy — especially with paint, Olsen says. “Be careful — use a drop cloth and everything,” she says.
A professional touch on bigger upgrades may see more return.
For certain parts of your home that need work outside your skill set, incurring the cost of a professional will be worth it in the end. “You can upgrade the bathroom on your own, … but that’s also something you can hire a professional to do,” Olsen says. While spending money often isn’t what you have in mind when you think about selling your home, a bad DIY tile job could become a sticking point with buyers, who may be concerned other work was done poorly elsewhere in the house.
Here are 11 things you should know about selling your home in spring and summer:
— There are more buyers.
— There are also more sellers to compete with.
— This year won’t be the same as last year.
— Your buyer may be on a specific timeline.
— The market varies from city to city.
— Landscaping can make a difference.
— More days on market doesn’t spell doom.
— You may have to lower your asking price.
— Some staging is required.
— Some projects can be DIY.
— A professional touch on bigger upgrades may see more return.