With interest rates at historic lows, there are plenty of prospective buyers looking to dip their toes into the property pool. Autumn is a great time for sellers. Why? To begin with, as we move into the milder months of April and May the hottest days of summer have ended. Potential buyers are likely to be more inclined to attend open houses if the weather’s cool and fresh.
Many buyers may have made New Year’s resolutions to purchase a home during the year. If you can show off your property during the first few months of the year, you’ll target these and more buyers. Despite what we’re led to believe about spring sales, there are many potential buyers out looking for the perfect property to suit their needs right now.
Lots of people also take extended holidays from their busy schedules during Christmas and early January. This gives them more time to research the market and feel confident about their buying decisions. They become buyers who are more prepared and ready to go.
Notes for a successful Autumn Sale
Once you’ve made the decision that an autumn sale is right for you, you’ll want to keep Anzac Day and the school holidays in mind. These could be distractions for potential buyers, who may have planned to go away. By May, days are already getting shorter and the weather will be cooling down.
8 tips for attracting the autumn home buyer
1. Make sure the garden looks spectacular
Your garden must look at its best. Include planting flowers that will bloom in autumn to contrast with the changing colours of shrubs and trees. Buy mature plants rather than seedlings if necessary. How many times do you see a property that sold because the buyer fell in love with the garden?
2. Clean up the yard
Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn to give a clean and tidy appearance. Don’t let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Pruning bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cut away summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Also, autumn-flowering plants give a cheery welcome like no other to prospective buyers. Plant in pots and place on the steps and along the sidewalk. Your nursery will advise you of the best plants to use in your local area.
3. Decorate your home with an Autumn theme
You don’t need to go crazy or spend a lot of money, but simply create a home that looks warm and inviting as the weather starts to cool. The days are starting to shorten, so make sure there is plenty of light in the house if you have an afternoon showing. An arrangement featuring autumn colours (pine cones, nuts, orange candles, leaves from the garden) with a hint of cinnamon stick fragrance is a good start.
4. Tone down your colours for Autumn
Sellers can get away with swathes of darker colours in summer, when sunlight illuminates the home. Not so during evening inspections when it’s no longer daylight savings time. Paint rooms in very neutral colours such as whites and beiges. Avoid the darker colours that are okay in the summer months when you’re not having to concentrate on brightening up a room.
5. Dress the Windows
Rain and wind from over the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by the time autumn comes. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level. To sell a home, your windows need to sparkle. Sometimes kids and pets smudge the window panes and weather can dirty the outside window ledges. So wash the windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens and spray them down.
6. Bring in the light
When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights if need be. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture, and for goodness sake, turn off the TV at inspection times.
7. Get a handyman/woman
Fix those little jobs you haven’t had time to do. Like the dodgy door handle, the mould in the bathroom. A loose door handle could be a deal-breaker for a buyer inspecting their sixth home in an afternoon. Often small details, like adding new kitchen doorknobs, resurfacing kitchen benches and even painting outdated splashback tiles can lift a home.
8. Clean out the fireplace
Ah, nothing smells like autumn than smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. However, be prepared. Chances are you haven’t used the fireplace – wood or gas – since last year. If the fireplace is filled with cobwebs because it hasn’t been used for months, vacuum it out and wash it down. You could arrange knickknacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs. Get a chimney sweep to service the heating beforehand. If you have a gas fireplace, light it before buyers come through. The same goes for a reverse-cycle air conditioner. Turn it on and make sure all is okay prior to showing potential buyers.
It’s true that people are more active before the doldrums of winter set in and therefore you may tap into a greater pool of buyers. It’s also important to realise that every real estate market is impacted by dozens of other factors, such as the state of the economy, mortgage interest rates and local supply and demand. But it’s also worth remembering that a well-presented property that is not over-priced will sell … so why not give autumn a go?