In a market with such tight inventory as Richmond, you’ve likely heard a lot about bidding wars and abbreviated selling times, especially in popular neighborhoods like The Fan or in the West End. But as the frenzied spring market is now in the rearview mirror, we’re preparing our sellers (and ourselves) for the slower season, when just slapping some iPhone photos of your home onto an MLS listing isn’t going to cut it anymore.
I’ve seen it begin already: The “Price Reduction” emails are flooding in and I just recently picked up a client whose less than stellar experience with another agent had them anxiously wondering if their house, which only had one showing in a month, would ever sell. (Spoiler: It’s now under contract!) In the fall market, a lot more thought needs to go into preparing a home for sale.
So let’s get one thing straight. It is your agent’s job to generate demand for your home. If your home is struggling on the market, they should serve as a competent advisor in figuring out why and then assist in fixing the problem. Of course, some homes are tougher to sell than others, but there are always ways to emphasize and capitalize on the elements of each house that make it desirable.
The key? Minimize the negative qualities and accentuate the positives. Of course, lowering the price is sometimes necessary, but not until other options have been exhausted.
Key strategies to take into consideration:
Let’s start with the basics: The MLS photos and remarks.
The Multiple Listing Service platform is often the first place a potential buyer or their agent will interface with your house, so if the photography and remarks are lackluster, you’re not going to get very far. You should ask your agent to see the photos that are being used to list your home, and you should offer input/feedback on the narrative as well. If you’re not happy with what you see, chances are potential buyers won’t be either.
Have you ever heard someone say “kitchens and bathrooms sell houses”?
Sure, it’s a cliche, but there is a lot of truth in it. Don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money into these areas, but be honest with your agent about your budget for updates. It’s their job to suggest tweaks that will make an impact, and you don’t need to break the bank to make a meaningful difference! A few hundred dollars spent on new hardware or a fresh paint job goes a lot further than you might think. Keep in mind, buyers typically make value assumptions in multiples of $5,000 or $10,000. Your objective is to keep them from emotionally subtracting value from your home. These are the types of decisions your agent can guide you toward.
Think of your front yard and backyard as two more rooms of your home.
Sadly, we can’t count them as such on your listing, but if you give them some TLC, they’ll pay off in their own way! We all know curb appeal is vital to a good first impression, but you don’t need to turn your yard into a botanical garden in order to impress buyers. Start by limbing up your trees as high as you can reach (in fact, hire your tallest neighbor instead) to make a yard feel more expansive. Along with some fresh dark hardwood mulch, you would be surprised at the instant difference you can make! Again, low dollars invested, high rate of return.
People say the three L’s of real estate are ‘location, location, location’, but let’s throw ‘lighting’ in that mix.
Great lighting can transform a home, especially in a time when everyone seems to want a “nice open floor plan with tons of natural light” (says every single buyer on HGTV). No matter your home’s layout, the careful selection of bulbs based on both brightness and color can give each room the desired effect. Use warmer lights and lamps in bedrooms to create a homey feel, and nice bright LED’s to maximize the kitchen and baths. In large fixtures, make sure every socket has the same kind of bulb so light is dispersed evenly, and keep in mind that today’s energy efficient bulbs allow you to crank up the light output without overloading a fixture originally designed with wattage limits for incandescent bulbs. Updated lighting is another way to pack a big punch in the way of increasing appeal without spending big bucks. After all, cavemen buyers are few and far between.
Color. Do I even need to elaborate?
Sure, buyers should be able to look past paint color, but that doesn’t mean they will, and with so much emotion involved, people are prone to walk away from a home based on a gut feeling that they can’t even pinpoint. So while having multiple colors throughout your home can be a good thing, you’ll want to replace any strong, polarizing colors (or wallpaper) with something more universally appealing to help generate that warm fuzzy feeling they’re looking for.
But these decisions shouldn’t all fall on you…
There is a lot to consider, but here’s the thing: If you hire the right agent, they’ll guide you through it all and help you make meaningful adjustments that, in combination with a competitive sales price, will draw attention to your home, no matter the season. If you’re seeing figurative tumbleweeds blow in front of that “For Sale” sign, your agent should be there at the ready with solid recommendations (and maybe some light bulbs) to help you make the most of the cards in your hand.