It is a recognized fact that our behavior is influenced by the seasons. We may be more active in the spring, moody during the winter months and a little bit lazy during the hot summer. When marketing homes for sellers, my advice on its presentation will vary depending upon the season. During the fall I might advise clients on techniques to highlight the dining room and kitchen with displays representing the fall harvest; at Christmas, perhaps a festive display of lights to warm the living and family rooms. The spring and early summer require a bit more focus on the outside of the home.
The objective is to accent the home’s features where buyers will have an increased seasonal interest thus selling the home faster for a higher price. These marketing nuances are likely not necessary when homes are selling within days with multiple offers but the real estate market today is not as fast paced as it was a year ago.
If you want to sell your home this year, you had better get started. Sixty percent of all homes will be sold between May and August. Putting your home on the market at the beginning of this selling season will expose your home to a larger number of homebuyers before they start focusing on a new school year. Our mild spring weather offers sellers an opportunity to address areas of their property where homebuyers will focus.
Landscaping will likely look better this spring than it will in July. Water-use reductions due to the drought will have an effect on the amount of watering that goes into lawns and landscaping, affecting the appearance. Despite all the media hype about water conserving homeowners who are tearing out their lawns and planting cactus and rocks, most homebuyers are attracted to lush green lawns and flowers.
A home is more than covered space. More homebuyers at this time of year are focusing their attention on the outside character of a home. Free from “Spare the Air” days we endure during the summer’s heat, buyers will linger on decks, patios and around the pool. Sellers should pay special attention to these areas. Get out the patio furniture, clean up the pool and paint the deck to ensure that a potential buyer has a pleasant, relaxing experience.
Years ago, during an Easter Weekend, I was showing homes in El Dorado Hills to some Bay Area buyers. One particular home on my tour that morning was pretty ordinary but the backyard pool and landscaping were exceptional. My clients made a quick pass thought the house but after entering the back yard I could not get them to leave. The alert seller noticed their keen interest and brought out a pitcher of lemonade and some cookies. She invited my clients to relax for a few minutes and get a feel for the home. By Monday we were in escrow.
Spring is a special blessing for rural property sellers. The fields and oaks are green. The gravel roads are not as dusty as in the summer or as muddy and rutted as in the winter. Walking property lines and inspecting horse facilities during the spring is much better than any other season. If a rural home seller has animals and spring arrivals, make sure they are on display with mom and easily seen by buyers who may be visiting the property.
Another time I was showing rural properties to a family of four. The price cap they gave me excluded a larger more expensive home on the same street but as we drove by, on the way to the less expensive home, one of the children cried out, “Oh mommy look at the baby lambs. Can we buy that home?” They did.
It doesn’t always cost lots of money to make a home more attractive. Often the small details will yield big dividends. Here are some examples: Open a window to allow fresh spring air into the home. Place a scented flowering plant near the entrance. Open appropriate window covering to allow more natural light into the room or to capture a special view. Fresh flowers and/or a display of garden vegetables or fruit will always attract positive attention. If there are neighborhood parks, bike or hiking trails in the neighborhood, have the information on display. Pools and hot tubs should be uncovered during showings. Turn on a water feature if you have one and make sure your dog’s area is free of litter.
Spring buyers will be paying more attention to what’s going on outside the home. Often, sellers will focus all their attention on the inside of their home and neglect the outside. Staging and de-cluttering the front and backyards is just as important as the inside living areas. Overgrown shrubbery will make a yard look smaller. Scattered garden hoses and children’s toys will clutter a yard. Rural properties, if possible, should have accessible property corners and easily identified lot lines. Barns and stables should be clean and open.
Like all of us, homebuyers feel more positive and energized during the spring. They look forward to working in their own yards and gardens, visiting with friends on the patio and watching as the beauty of nature unfolds on their own property. Sellers who enhance the anticipation of this experience will be rewarded for their efforts.
Ken Calhoon is a local real estate broker who can be reached at [email protected]