10 Tips for Selling in the Fall

So, if you're preparing to sell your house this fall, think about:

  • Curb appeal. Fall can make or break you when it comes to curb appeal and the all-important "first impression." Leaves turning shades of crimson and gold can add extra appeal to the total look of your home's exterior. On the other hand, leaves strewn about your front yard can decrease your home's visual appeal during that first impression.

  • Celebrating the season. Add a fall wreath to the front door. Have a few huge pumpkins and fall display in your front area to welcome visitors (would-be buyers).

  • Scents of the season. If you're a smoker or have pets, make sure the nose doesn't know. Eliminate all such offensive odors. If you're holding an open house, or know you'll have a lot of potential buyers looking on a particular day, bake an apple pie. Nothing is more inviting than the scent of apples and cinnamon wafting through the air.

  • Letting the light in. A dark house is a big turn off. Open up the blinds, let the light in and turn on the lights during the day. And turn on all those accent lights and lamps.

  • The fireplace. The hearth is still an important feature to most buyers, especially as days grow colder. Make sure yours is clean. Place a log in the fireplace. Or, consider placing an attractive candelabra or candle-holder that holds numerous candles in the fireplace for a decorator's touch.

  • Hiring a home inspector. Once a buyer makes an offer, they will hire someone to conduct an in-depth inspection of the house. Some sellers like to do this before they put their house on the market so there are no surprises down the road. If anything comes up during the seller's inspection, the seller can get it taken care of before putting the house on the market. The American Society of Home Inspectors says a typical home inspection includes drainage conditions, exterior surfaces, decks, chimney, the roof, windows, doors, plumbing fixtures, furnace, air conditioner, insulation, ventilation, electrical, heating, and plumbing systems.

  • Tidying up. If you have a lot of furniture or other "stuff," put some of it in storage. Put away all those knickknacks and paper piles.

  • Allowances. If you have carpet, wood floors or cabinets that have seen better days, consider offering an allowance right off the bat. You'll want to discuss this with your real estate professional. There are pros and cons -- you don't get to have that "wow" first impression if you put in those floors or cabinets yourself before you sell. But you might be short on time and don't want to run into the holidays -- plus buyers may like the idea of picking out their own flooring.

  • Your asking price. Don't insist on setting the price too high, especially if you're on a timeline. A house priced appropriately will be taken more seriously and will ultimately sell more quickly than one that's overpriced.

  • Talk to the professionals. Now's also a good time to interview real estate professionals. Ask about their experience, find out how well they know the area you're eyeing, and talk to references. Once you have someone lined up you can follow his or her additional recommendations and begin the final phases of preparation before your house goes on the market.

The trick to getting your house ready for sale is to look at it first through a buyer's eyes. Why? In general, buyers do not see the house through the sane eyes as the seller. The seller has years and memories tied up in the house. Buyers are looking for a sound structure at a good price. These days, the typical buyers is interested in value. How much house can they get for their money. Drive or walk around your neighbourhood or community and take a good look at other houses, regardless of whether those houses are for sale. Go home, stand across the street, and look at your house and yard. What makes your house better or worse than the others? Then accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and do not mess with the in-between. As you improve the exterior, it could add as much as 10% to the sale price of your house.