Homebuying and selling typically peaks in the spring and summer months, but listings put on the market during the fall season can certainly move the needle too.
Fall buyers tend to be more serious; chances are, they’re moving because of a job relocation or other family situation so they need to get settled quickly. There are also others looking for bargains in what has been a busy market, hoping to score a deal while dealing with less competition.
Having less competition can also work for listings that have gotten lost in the shuffle, as there are likely less comparable properties during the fall season and, perhaps, a better chance to sell for close to or above market value.
But agents and sellers beware: Just because there might be less competition doesn’t mean you should overlook key points of the listing and showing process.
Here are some common mistakes agents and sellers make when putting listings on the market in the fall and how to avoid them:
Forgetting About Seasonal Changes
Fall is romanticized for its foliage, football and hot cider, but it’s also a sign that winter is coming.
That means shorter days and less sunlight, which makes staging for listing photos, open houses and showings a bit more complicated.
If possible, try to take listing photos as early as possible during the home-selling process to take advantage of whatever outside greenery and natural light remains. For open houses and showings, it’s even more important to turn on every light and open every curtain so there’s as much natural light as possible.
Also: Don’t forget to have sellers do a test run on the furnace after its long summer hiatus. The last thing prospective buyers want is to walk into a musty-smelling house.
Negating Curb Appeal
Not many homeowners tend to their flower beds and pots once plants begin dying for the season, but that doesn’t mean the outdoors doesn’t still need some TLC – especially when the house is up for sale.
There’s no seasonality when it comes to curb appeal, and first impressions still rule the day.
Encourage sellers to clean flower beds, rake leaves and clear the gutters – basically, everyone’s least favorite fall activities. Also remind them (or take the onus yourself) to sweep or blow the drive and walkways clear of leaves before every tour.
Halloween decorations can be downright spooktacular and pumpkins and cornstalks are classic autumn staples but, as during other times of the year, it’s best to take a less-is-more approach when it comes to prepping a show-ready listing.
Some light fall-centric decorations and candles can help set the mood, but the goal isn’t to sell a house that looks and feels like home during the fall; it’s to sell a house that feels like home during all seasons.
Not Reading the Market
Yes, inventory is typically lower in the fall compared to the spring and summer. But real estate is always hot, regardless of the season.
Be knowledgeable about seasonal and yearly trends by consulting local housing stats and knowing your market. Don’t price to sell in late October if your market historically doesn’t slow until mid-December.
Although fall might not be an ideal time to list a property, it’s still an agent’s job to do all they can to help their client reach the best possible outcome.
Not Taking the Listing off the Market
That said, sometimes it’s best to take control of the situation if it isn’t going your way.
If it gets to be Thanksgiving and a listing hasn’t sold, chances are it’ll be extremely tough to sell before the calendar flips to the new year.
Obviously, it all depends on the seller’s situation. But if they’re able to hold off on selling for another month or two, discuss the positives (and negatives) of taking a step back and relisting in January, February or an even better selling season.
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