Selling Your Home first appeared in the Florida Times-Union
Most people realize Spring is typically the best time to sell a house. The weather is inviting, the flowers are blooming, even in North Florida, we are recovering from cabin-fever. Jacksonville has some other factors that affect the residential real estate market as well. Military families typically move in the Summer and Winter, after schools let out; and corporate relocations can happen anytime. Although Winter is traditionally a slower market, house hunters tend to be more serious and the available housing inventory does sell. The market is also picking up, with the first increase in activity since last Summer!
If you are thinking about selling your house, the guidelines in the following paragraphs will help. Look with a critical eye at the curb-appeal of the exterior. Trim the shrubbery, and mow and edge the lawn. Clean the driveway and yard, and put fresh mulch in the beds. Plant seasonal flowers, to add a splash of color. Consider touching up the trim and front door with fresh paint. This will all contribute to a better first impression as prospective buyers arrive at your home.
Apply the same critical eye to the interior. Complete any small repairs, to prevent unnecessarily alarming interested buyers with minor issues. Chipping paint, or a dripping faucet can distract buyers, and make them look for other defects. Deciding to buy a house is an emotional decision, and your prospects should be able to concentrate on the charm and character of your home. Money spent on these repairs will contribute to a smoother sale, and better sale price at closing. You can choose to explain how little effort it would take to repair an item, or fix it, and not cause additional concern.
Clean up, and clear out! Your kitchen and bathrooms should sparkle. Otherwise, those walking through your home will wonder about other deferred maintenance. Start boxing up your knickknacks and collectibles. Any clutter detracts from inspecting the main features of your property, and distracts buyers. Removing extra pieces of furniture will expand pathways and create a feeling of more room. Clearing out closets will allow buyers to see their dimensions, and not create a sense that you lack storage space. You need to start packing anyway, and storing your valuables will protect them from breakage or loss as you open your doors to the public.
Consider hiring a design professional. “When staging a home, a designer will see things that the homeowner has learned to overlook. The bottom line is to offer the best advice to the homeowner to accomplish their mission of selling their home in the quickest time and for the maximum dollar.” says Bobi McGinnis, an Interior Redesign Industry Specialist (I.R.I.S.) with Heart Strings. “A potential buyer's first impression can impact thousands of dollars on the selling price. If the home seems to be suffering from neglect, then the perception of the home suffers. Remember... you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Hold an Open House! Your neighbors want to see your home, and they may have friends who want to move nearby. Serious house hunters will see your “For Sale” sign as soon as you stake it in your yard, and an Open House will be a great time to invite everyone inside. Have your pets stay with a friend during the event, and make sure they are at least contained for other showings. Have visitors sign a “Guest List” as they enter your home. You’ll be able to follow up later, and arrange second showings with this information. Turn on lights in every room (with high wattage bulbs) to highlight your clean, beautiful home. Bake cookies or simmer mulling spices to fill the air with an inviting aroma. Open blinds and drapes, turn off the TV, and play soft background music to set the right atmosphere.
By using these ideas as a checklist, you can minimize your time on the market, and maximize the return on your investment. The real estate market fluctuates, and the process can be frustrating, but paying attention to small details will set your home apart. The goal is for prospective buyers to see the wonderful qualities of your house, and not stumble on irrelevant items. Good luck accomplishing your goals this year!