If you’re eager to start the new year in a new home and are ready to put your house on the market, don’t hesitate simply because of the time of year.
Sharon G. Aubuchon, a Realtor with RE/MAX Premier Realty, said there’s a long-running notion that the coldest season of the year is the worst time to put your house on the market. Winter can actually be one of the best times of year to sell a home for a variety of reasons, including less seller competition and a higher likelihood of serious buyers.
“I’ve done some of my biggest sales in the winter,” Aubuchon said.
Yet for sellers, a word of caution. Preparing to put your house on the market entails much more than finding a Realtor, preparing and publishing a listing and hosting an open house. Aubuchon has compiled several tips for sellers based on her experience as one of the most successful Realtors in Kansas City, as well as being in the top 0.5 percent of RE/MAX’s 108,000 agents. If you’re considering selling your home, consider this your high priority to-do list for an increased chance at getting top dollar for your house.
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First impressions matter
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can bet that prospective buyers will judge your home by its exterior. Aubuchon recommends stepping outside and looking for opportunities to do a quick and inexpensive refresh. Add new mulch to landscaping, for example. Be sure the area around the front door is clean. Swap out a worn welcome mat for one that’s new and brightly colored. If applicable, keep decorations up-to-date – no deflating pumpkins in the middle of January! Another tip to quickly spruce up your front entry without breaking the bank? Consider a decorative wreath to place on your front door.
Stage, don’t shuffle
Properly staging a home is an art – and it involves much more than simply shuffling furniture in a new configuration. Aubuchon said that she relies on a professional stager to help her clients, a process that often involves replacing existing furniture with more current pieces.
Staging extends beyond a home’s furnishings. One of the most important yet overlooked areas is lighting, Aubuchon said, which she describes as a home’s “jewelry.” A fresh coat of paint can also make an immediate impact. Aubuchon said she has several colors she recommends, and that current trends favor a gray palette. Before you start painting, Aubuchon said to not go too crazy with different colors.
“My stager/designer recommends pulling a paint card that generally has four to five colors on it and using that single card for colors throughout the house,” she said. “You don’t want the house to have too many colors. Instead, you want to create a flow, which also helps the rooms look larger.”
The downside to the winter real estate market? Inclement weather. Yet Aubuchon said that determined buyers won’t be deterred by a snowstorm – and yes, she speaks from experience.
To keep your house clean and free from wintry shoe tracks, Aubuchon recommends adding a large rug in your entryway so that people can wipe off and/or remove their shoes. She’s personally not a fan of the disposable shoe covers and instead prefers that shoes be removed during poor weather conditions.
Don’t overlook your pets
One thing to know about Aubuchon is that she’s passionate about animals. She has three: Sadee, a 3-year old Australian Shepherd rescue; Baby Kitty, who Aubuchon rescued from a home she was showing after finding the kitten trapped in the basement; and Sophia, a kitten left in the street after the mother cat was hit by a car.
That’s why she pays equal attention to pets throughout the selling process. For pet owners with animals that aren’t used to being put in a kennel, Aubuchon said that a showing isn’t time to start confining them because it often proves too stressful for the animal. Instead, consider enlisting the help of a pet sitter to walk your dog during a showing – provided the weather cooperates, of course. You could also consider pet daycare, especially if several showings are scheduled in one day. Whatever solution you decide on, Aubuchon said the important thing is to simply be mindful of your four-legged friends.
“Selling your home shouldn’t stress your pets,” she said.
Lights, camera, action
Once your home is on the market and the showings begin, Aubuchon said it’s important to set the right tone before a showing. Open blinds, turn on the lights and consider playing music at a low volume. Place a plate of freshly baked cookies on the counter or have something delicious cooking in a Crock-Pot.
Two things to avoid? Aerosol and plug-in air fresheners. Aubuchon said many buyers are allergic to these products and, if hit with too much artificial scent, may be worried that a seller is trying to hide something. If you’re a fan of scented candles and/or cleaning products, Aubuchon recommends the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day line, made from plant-derived ingredients and essential oils.
The bottom line: as you prepare to sell your home, make it the “shiny penny,” Aubuchon said. “Don’t waste your time going on the market if you’re not willing to make your home magazine-ready.”
And if you’re stressed by the process of preparing and staging your home, or not sure where to start? Aubuchon offers a full-service approach to real estate with a goal of making selling or buying a home stress-free.
“I describe myself as being turn-key,” she said. “I come in, I do everything. If the house needs to be painted, I get bids. If it needs to be staged, I work with my stager. I’m a people-pleaser. I care about people loving their homes and, for sellers, helping them get top dollar for what’s probably their biggest asset.”
Sharon G. Aubuchon
Contact: 816-863-3003 or 913-529-1414; firstname.lastname@example.org