Great that you’ve decided to put up the For Sale sign, and hopefully with a great agent for you.
However, is your house ready to be placed on the market NOW? Take a look at some key questions and tips below in order to maximise the opportunity to sell at the highest price. While traditionally spring is the best time to sell, that’s not to say the other months are not suitable for selling at all. The key concept here is comparative advantage – In which season will your house stand out more than others?
(If you are looking at ways to add tremendous value on a budget to your home after you decide to sell, read here.)
When does your house look its best?
Generally, houses look the best in spring (September to November – which is now!). In spring, the weather is lovely and your garden is going to look abundant with life. Swarms of activity buzz in the streets as sellers, buyers and real estate agents crawl out from hibernation to welcome the spring sales season.
Many streets in St Heliers will have cherry blossoms blooming. Visit some parts of Melanesia Road (St Heliers) to see for yourself! Everything appears more vibrant, and with presentation of paramount importance, sellers feel the warmer months can assist in a successful sale. That generally gives buyers a good feeling about the house. Late spring is also the time where families are looking for their next home in anticipation for the new school year in 2019.
In spring, everybody wants a good buy, and everybody wants to sell. Typically the marketplace is flooded with inventory. It is well known that there is more on the market in the spring than any other time of the year. This contributes to properties getting less views and staying on the market longer than other seasons.
PRO TIPS TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE STAND OUT WHEN SELLING IN SPRING 2018:
- Wash windows inside and out. Polish all mirrors and shiny surfaces (for e.g. door and cupboard hangers). Sparkle sells homes. A potential buyer may not realize why your home seems so inviting but will feel drawn to it if the windows are spotless and your mirrors reflect sunlight. Make an effort because your buyers will notice the smudges.
- Kill mould and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof, or driveway accumulated over winter.
- Focus on the outside areas and get them up to scratch. That means pressure washing your pavers or staining your decks. Do not ignore the backyard if it is visible from the street or another driveway.
- Style your house with bright colours to suit the spring season, such as decorative throws and cushions. Yellow flowers stimulate buying urges. After winter, everybody (including me) is anxious to see the first signs of spring. Yellow tulips and daffodils induce feelings of happiness and contentment.
- Put an umbrella stand at the hallway entrance. Spring weather in Auckland is often unpredictable. I literally drove through rain, perfect weather and rain in a span of twenty minutes along Tamaki Drive on what is supposedly a fine spring day. Thanks Met Service!
If your property is near the beach (e.g. the popular St Heliers Beach/Kohimarama Beach) or has an outdoor spa pool, then summer might be a good season for people to appreciate the amenities nearby and the facilities you have. Summer is also a much better time to showcase your house if it is south facing, shaded by a lot of trees and feels dark and cold.
If your house has too many west-facing windows and gets particularly hot in the afternoon, you might think twice about trying to hold inspections then. If you haven’t got a choice, remember to cool the house down way in advance so that it will be a perfect temperature when the buyers looking at your house.
Christmas can be a great time to buy a home (if there are any out there). Few buyers are out looking at homes during Christmas week, so the chance of multiple offers or any competition whatsoever is very low. For you as a seller, this necessarily means you should avoid selling over Christmas.
PRO TIP WHEN SELLING IN SUMMER
- Try to conduct open homes during times where the sun is pouring into your living room so that buyers can see the full potential of your house. In New Zealand, it has been shown that “each extra daily hour of sunlight exposure is associated with a 2.4% increase in house sale price.”.
In autumn, we watch leaves explode in vibrant colors as sale signs pop up in yards. People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop.
If there happen to be some autumn trees on your property or near your street, then the colour diversity might just attract buyers to your house. If the weather cooperates, autumn can be a fantastic time to sell with less stock and more buyers still out looking before the winter chills.
PRO TIPS WHEN SELLING IN AUTUMN:
- Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don’t let overgrown vegetation block your windows or path to the house. Cutting down outdoor bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your beautiful home.
- Create Autumn Curb Appeal. The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums, and they bloom for a long time. I also like marigolds for fall. Both chrysanthemums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my favourite home selling colour. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. But feel free to put in any other flowers you love and showcase the house’s personality.
- Turn on the lights. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open all the shutters and tie the curtains on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
If you have a nice and inviting fireplace, fully insulated house and other interesting features that make your house comfortable and warm, then winter is actually a great opportunity for your house to stand out in comparison to others.
Those west-facing windows that were a problem in Summer are now your selling points. Get your fire crackling way before the open home so that buyers can feel comfortable as they walk through the house. A great house in winter is an even better one in warmer months!
PRO TIP WHEN SELLING IN WINTER
- Create a Mood. You want rooms to appear warm and cosy. Have candles burning in the rooms. Turn your bathroom into a spa by hanging plush robes on the door. Add luxurious throws to your sofas and beds. Turn on the music, such as jazz or classical.
Will there be buyers around?
This is crucial. Your house can be looking pretty but there must be people around to look at it. There is a perception that there are more buyers looking in the warmer months because people are outside and might just pop by into an open home. However, you could be attracting curious onlookers that are just wasting your time.
In cooler months, the buyers who do come through are more likely to be serious as they are braving the cold to look for their new home. These buyers are generally more motivated and keen because they are desperate to find their dream house. You also face less competition as the traditional belief is that winter is a bad time to sell.
Should I sell during the school holiday periods?
Another debate centres around the school holidays. Some people think that there will be less buyers during the school holidays because families are away having their vacation. Others feel that school holidays mean parents have more time to look at properties and attend auctions mid-week.
The key question to consider is this: what sort of buyers does your house attract? Downsizers and retirees might still be actively looking at houses during the school holiday periods. Houses suitable for families with older children and teenagers may benefit from being listed outside of school holiday periods to maximise the potential pool of buyers.
PRO TIP: If you are selling during in a period of school holidays is to have a 4 week campaign whereby half is during the school holidays and half is before or after such that you can cater to those who stay and those who are away.
Think about the needs of your potential buyers
Think about your house and your reasons for buying it back then. What aspects of the house suited you then and do those aspects/factors (for e.g. a modern kitchen) still exist today? This will help you figure out who your potential buyers are and what they might be doing in particular times of the year so that your house is on the market when they are available and ready to make big decisions.
Some generic ‘buyers’ and their needs (based on what I have observed when selling in the Eastern Suburbs) are summarise as follows. Picture these buyers and think about which categories you are likely to attract.
Will there be too many houses on the market?
If there are less properties on the market, buyers will have fewer choices and are more likely to take a look at your property. The warmer months tend to attract the most number of listings. However, as mentioned above, that may not necessarily be the best time to sell especially if there is too much competition in the market. You want to be the big fish in a small pond.
Having an eye on the median time to sell in your particular suburb can be useful – if the median time to sell is getting longer, that would suggest that houses are sitting on the market for longer periods of time. What may traditionally be a good period to sell may not turn out to be so in such a case. This is because you will be competing for limited buyers with ‘old’ stock.
The most important question to ask
I saved the most important question for the last. Are YOU ready to sell?
Maximising the sale price is just one factor in a multi-faceted issue on whether to sell your home. Everyone wants to buy low and sell high but market forces naturally dictates that this is not possible. Consider your motivations for selling. Is it because:
- your family need more space in the very near future?
- you want to get your kids into a good school like Glendowie Primary or St Heliers School?
- you are looking to downsize to a smaller place and start preparing for retirement?
- you are trying to free up or raise cash to invest in your business or some other areas? There may often be other solutions to this problem.
- you are trying to escape the upcoming demolition and rebuilding of the neighbouring houses and the chaotic traffic this may bring?
This is an intensely personal, yet important, question to ask and it is crucial that any (good) real estate salesperson understands this. This will also help drive the sale price and any negotiation in a smooth and efficient manner if you do choose to sell.
So What's Your Next Move?
Not all houses are built alike and not all sellers have the same motivation for selling. Any time can be a good time to sell for the right reason.
As always, if you are still unsure (and you often will be), contact me for a no-obligation analysis of whether now is the best time to sell YOUR house. I will be happy to provide my recommendation based on the latest market trends and my intimate knowledge of the area so that you can make an informed decision.
Found this post useful and have more questions? Or still confused?
Please get in touch and I am happy to have a chat over coffee! (Contact details below)