As the fall home-selling season opens, real estate agents recommend that homeowners spend some time and money preparing the house for sale so that it sells promptly and at the best price.
With mortgage rates toping 7%, agents say D.C.-area real estate is starting to see more balance between buyers and sellers, following a period of very aggressive buying and rapidly rising prices.
“There are a lot of things that people can do, like staging a home, making sure that it’s clean, that it has a good curb appeal, that the gardens are taken care of,” said Alison McDowell, a real estate agent in the Bethesda, Maryland, office of Compass.
It’s important that your property makes a really good first impression.
“When you’re selling a home, you get the most traffic in the first week that house is on the market … I liken selling a house to planning a party, where you want the big reveal to go off without a hitch,” McDowell said.
Research shows that careful prepping pays off.
According to McDowell, some renovation work like painting, refinishing floors and updating kitchens and bathrooms can score home sellers “up to four times the return on their investment for every dollar they spend on fixing their house up … prepping your house for sale can really help it sell faster and for a higher price.”
But not all homeowners may want to go through major fix-up work before selling their home. McDowell said that prepping can be modest, and much depends on the house and the desires of the seller.
She recommends that sellers work with an agent to assess where they can invest to get the biggest bang for their buck. These don’t have to be huge investments, she added.
“It’s not a given that somebody would have to paint a house to be sold … but sometimes a coat of paint can make a world of difference,” McDowell said.
For those who really want to invest in the hopes of getting top dollar in the sale, staging the house to sell can provide the seller with a strong advantage.
“Sometimes, people have a hard time conceptualizing the space … and it might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes staging in small places will make the space look more usable and bigger because people will be able to picture what it looks like with an actual bed in the space or with a desk in the space or with furniture in the space,” McDowell said.
Stagers can even consult homeowners to work with the furniture that’s already in the home.
“You want people to be able to picture themselves in the house … you can do anything if you had an unlimited budget, but not many people do, so … pick and choose what will make the biggest impact when selling the house,” McDowell said.