Lawrence residents Bob and Linda Kerr put their house on the market at the end of April, and it only took 37 days for a buyer to swoop in and pluck it up.
You don’t have to be a real estate agent to know that’s a nice turnaround. Having sold two houses already, the Kerrs knew what they were doing.
“We knew that house sales were down, but we knew from past home sales that the spring market is usually the strongest and the best time to sell,” says Linda Kerr.
And while real estate agents will agree that buyers are more plentiful when it’s warm outside, selling a house in autumn is still very doable.
Jason Robinson, real estate agent with Realty Executives Hedges Real Estate, was willing to sit down and provide a few guidelines for those with homes still to sell as the winter chill starts to set in. His first piece of advice? Have the house ready to sell. It sounds simple enough, but how do you do it?
Cut the clutter
Robinson advises clients to do a walk-through and pick out unused furniture and appliances that could go into storage. That toaster oven you got for Christmas two years ago and haven’t used since? Get rid of it.
“You don’t want your house to appear cluttered,” Robinson says. “If it’s an item you aren’t going to be using for four weeks, it could go into storage.”
Robinson says removing junk from the home will clear up space and help prospective buyers visualize their own furniture arrangements. And when a room is less cramped, it will appear larger.
“We even rented a storage shed to store all of our extra stuff: Christmas decoration, extra tools and garden gear,” Linda Kerr says. “We also boxed up extra clothes out of our closets.”
Craig Brown, real estate agent and owner of C Brown Group, says you still want your home to appear personal — as if it’s lived in — but you want to leave room for buyers to picture themselves in the home. And make sure it’s spotless, too, Brown says.
“Imagine that your mother-in-law is coming over to visit,” he says. “Get it shining like a diamond.”
Fresh paint, manicured grass and reduced clutter are all things Brown suggests, as well as fixing any problems — leaky roofs, broken windows.
Covering all corners, the Kerrs decided to invest in an interior decorator to fetch advice on room colors and furniture placement.
“I (worked with an interior decorator) because the house was still painted with the same color that the builder had picked out,” Linda Kerr says. “Working with the decorator was probably the smartest $60 I ever spent. She was able to help me choose paint colors that complemented the furniture and decorations that I already owned.”
The decorator also helped the Kerrs rearrange furniture to make the home appear more spacious.
Contact an agent
Finally, with the home in good shape, the Kerrs called a realtor. They picked an agent who had already produced good results for them in the past.
“The (Realtors) were very pleased with the condition of our home,” Linda Kerr says, “but like the excellent Realtors that they are, they also made some additional suggestions on improvements that we could still make. Little things like a door that was sticking, trimming some bushes, etc.”