By Brandon Scott
The market has been one sided giving sellers the upperhand. Before inflation showed up to this party, the biggest concern, for most buyers, was if the home would appraise above the list price. Inflation is impacting real estate completely differently than other consumer goods.
Hedging your money in real estate, especially in an inflationary environment, has always been a safe bet.
Inventory is starting to increase, meaning more homes are available. The next logical question is will values and/or prices adjust, and in what direction? My prediction is that waves of sellers will emerge, asking themselves, “have I missed the window of selling at a higher price?” I believe that opportunity still exists to maximize the return on selling your home but that all begins with presentation.
In this new emerging market, inflation is creating a new type of buyer, and understanding their psychology should help most sellers see even higher returns; when they pivot accordingly. Here’s what I am seeing, today’s buyers have learned from the period of historically low interest rates and they’re approaching this transaction with an underlying ‘annoyance’ that they “didn’t purchase when rates were lower.” Plus, they’ve seen their friends & family that paid over asking price for a home and they want to do everything in their power to avoid overpaying. We find ourselves with a group of buyers that are willing to pull the trigger, they have an increase in inventory, and they are going to be more discerning on the type of and condition of property they’re willing to purchase.
Selling your home is a personal decision and regardless of the reason, presenting a place that others want to visit and buy is extremely important. In fact, it’s critical to helping a seller achieve the attention needed that generates an offer. Here are my recommendations on what sellers should consider to prepare their homes to be put on the market.
Before we dive into the list, it’s important that, as a seller, you begin to accept that your property is transforming. It’s transforming from a home, a place where you created memories, into a house, an asset that needs to be presented, leveraged and sold at the best and highest value. Notice I said value, because anyone will pay a price for a property. I want your goal to be to attract the right buyer(s) that value the property and they’re willing to pay for it.
Let’s dive in.
Have an assessment
Timing is never going to be right so you should stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Many people have to sell their home and there’s little time, money and motivation to make any updates or improvements to the property. Having a relationship with a Realtor and building a recurring schedule to meet with them during the year will ensure that you have the opinion of a certified market expert. This gives you time to consider those improvements, and make them, while you’re living in the property and have the time to enjoy them. Plus, given advance discussions with your Realtor, the improvements you’ll make will return back to you when the home goes on the market.
Improvements are one part of owning a home but routine maintenance is another. Turning a blind eye to work that needs to be done now creates a breeding ground for buyers to nickel and dime you out of your net earnings. Performing routine maintenance ensures the life of your systems and appliances, but also lays the groundwork for home improvements. The cost of delaying or deferring maintenance can cost you thousands more and lead to even larger issues. Remember, at some point a professional will walk through your home, test those systems and report out on them. The cost of doing nothing now will certainly cost more later.
I discussed this earlier but ensure that you’re making renovations that add practical value to the property. Adding a fence, for example, is a great way to improve and increase the value of your property. Even the type of fence makes a difference. Let’s assume that you end up being in a home for 10 years, does it make sense to get a vinyl or an oak fence? The fence will add inherent value but, what improvements offer a higher level of return given the cost. In this example, I’d say the oak fence would offer a larger return, given my experience with appraisal reports. Finally, I’ll add the difference may be small but, if done timely, you’ll enjoy the purchase well before you sell the home.
Landscaping & Decor
Believe it or not, curb appeal is real but it doesn’t stop there. People want to have a front and backyard experience. Having a well manicured lawn draws in buyers that want to transition your house into their own home. A buyer wants to know they are moving into a place they can almost immediately call home. When the lawn and decor are overlooked, buyers hone in on that and they are unable to envision family gatherings and celebrating their new accomplishment of buying a home. More practically, Covid has created a desire amongst buyer for a home with some space. Even with a small yard, a strategic layout can distract from the size but invites buyers. Now, this doesn’t mean spending an obnoxious amount of money on plants you can’t even pronounce. Rather, landscape with a purpose. Remember, you’re filling the space for your enjoyment now and the new buyer just receives the benefit of what you’ve done.
Next Phase Planning
Every seller should have a fairly clear idea what they want to do with the next phase of your life. Trust me, I understand if you feel that it’s none of your Realtor’s business. But for many sellers the next phase of their life will require a Realtor to guide them, give them information, connect them with professionals and/or manage this new aspect of life. Granted, it’s not truly the scope of your Realtor to specialize in these areas post-closing but he or she should be a resource to help begin that planning. Prior to listing your home, take a moment to think about life after the sale of your home and incorporate that, or a presentation of it, into your line of questions when you interview a Realtor
Selling a home is a deeply personal decision but making sure that along the way the home you created has been loved, enhanced and is more than ready to be shared with another family that will value what you’ve put into it.
Brandon Scott is a licensed real estate agent in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. His license hangs with Keller Williams Capital Properties in DC. He’s been involved in the mortgage finance industry for the last 22 years in various fields. You can reach him by email at [email protected]. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel at RealTeaDMV