Late spring is the busiest time of year for the residential real estate industry, meaning the months leading to the peak in May are crucial for homeowners looking to sell. Between prepping interiors, exteriors and every detail in between, area real estate experts understand what it takes to make homes move in the market.
For many, it’s about moving as quickly as possible.
“As we enter the spring 2019 market, inventory is meager,” says Blake Anderson, marketing director at Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty. “This low inventory drives the competition, creating the potential for multiple offers and a quick sale. The seller gets peace of mind sooner, while the buyer can start making memories in their new home.”
Others in the industry echo this sentiment, emphasizing that the time to start preparing often arrives earlier than one would think.
“Buyers who want to make a move turn their attention to the market right after the holidays,” says Kathy Beilein, president at Laura McCarthy Real Estate. “Coming to market before the supply catches up with the demand increases a seller’s chances of selling – and selling well. Early in the spring market, buyers have no idea what homes will be coming on that will meet their needs, so when they find a home that does, they tend to act.”
Timing is key in many cases, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. Having your home market-ready – clean bathrooms, a clean kitchen, attractive landscaping, etc. – is essential for first impressions.
“You only get one chance at introducing your home to the market, so make sure that your home is ready,” Beilein says.
According to Margo Begley, vice president of marketing and creative for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate, a move-in-ready home helps inspire confidence in the client.
“It makes them feel that a move would be easy with minimal upkeep,” she says. “It also assures buyers that the home they are considering has been well-maintained and is in good shape.”
One key to interior preparation is the color palette. With more neutral tones, prospective buyers find it easier to imagine their own furnishings fitting into the space, much as an artist views a blank canvas. However, not every buyer has an artist’s eye, so in some cases, sellers have to give them a nudge.
“Look for grays to be popular this year with neutral metal accents that add a fresh, chic touch,” Begley says. “Neutral colors also allow the sellers to add seasonal accents more easily, keeping your home looking fresh and up to date while it is being marketed.”
Unsurprisingly, trends in interior decoration can be likened to the fashion industry.
“Like they say, one day you’re in; one day you’re out,” Anderson says. “Eclectic clutter is out, and refined interiors are in. Clean lines, open spaces, white surfaces, gray walls, sustainability and technology are pluses. For every designer, there is a different opinion. It’s always best to use furniture and color that make you happy.”
All things considered, many homeowners can attest that most styles come and go, but as Begley puts it, four factors always matter.
“More important than decorating trends is what I like to call the four C’s of home preparation: having your home in the very best condition, clean, cared for and clutter-free,” she says. “These never go out of date.”
Begley is adamant that it’s well worth your investment to take measures to shore up these details. Other, smaller updates to lighting and hardware can be appealing, as well, resulting in a faster sale, but larger-scale projects should be approached with deep consideration.
“Rarely will the money spent on updates be recouped in the sales price, but the goal is to get the home sold in the seller’s time frame, and sometimes this requires a significant update,” she says. “An experienced Realtor can help a home seller make this important evaluation.”
Begley suggests that springtime sellers searching for the right real estate agents should take the time to meet with different individuals to discuss goals and expectations. At the end of the day, the agent you select should be considered a member of your own team.
“There are a lot of good real estate agents available who are deeply committed to their clients,” she says. “A good Realtor has experience, knowledge, dedication and care.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate, 636 Trade Center Blvd., Chesterfield, 636-537-0300, bhhsall.com
Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty, 8301 Maryland Ave., No. 100, Clayton, 314-725-0009, dielmannsothebysrealty.com
Laura McCarthy Real Estate, 29 The Boulevard, St. Louis, 314-725-5100, lauramccarthy.com