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A Year in The Life of a Home Seller

Seasons change... and so does your to-do list, if you’re planning to put your home on the market this year

As the seasons change, so do the responsibilities of a home seller. There are subtle differences between selling in the spring and selling in the fall that are worth noting—and plenty to fill your to-do list in other seasons, too. If you’re planning to sell your house this year, keep these seasonal suggestions in mind.

Spring

Spring is the high season for real estate so make sure your house is ready to go on the market. If you prepared properly and got a pre-inspection in the winter, you should already know what needs fixing. Hopefully, you’ve already taken care of the major elements. As far as the smaller stuff goes, repair what you can and be prepared to negotiate on what you can’t. If you already know your home’s weaknesses, you won’t face any nasty surprises when the offers start coming in. The rest is simple. Clean up, de-clutter, and make sure your yard looks clean and well maintained. As far as the actual sale goes, you’ll want to know your ideal closing dates and all the conditions of sale before you enter into negotiations. Decide ahead of time what you’re willing to compromise on and what’s a deal breaker.

Summer

Sold your home? Perfect. Now it’s time to pack up and move. Get the kids registered for school, settle in, and you’re good to go. If you have a long closing, take the opportunity to do some fixes on your new place before you move in. If you haven’t sold your house yet and you’re listing in the summer, be sure to take people’s comfort into account. You want people to feel good when they walk into your house, so make sure you’ve got air conditioning. If you have central air conditioning, rent some portable units for the open house (it should be clear in the listing these do not come with the sale). And while you’re at it, make sure to have cold drinks on hand. It’s a small thing but it’s a part of the experience that people will remember. As far as outside areas go, play up the outdoor lifestyle as much as you can. Set up seating areas on the front porch or backyard, and if you have a pool, make sure to call attention to it and make it look inviting.

Fall

If you’ve already sold and you’re in your new house, it’s time to prep for winter. Do an interior and exterior perimeter check and look for any gaps or cracks that could result in energy loss over the winter and do your fixes.If you still have to sell, you’re in luck—fall is the second best time of year to sell, but the buyers are often made up of older people and millennials, not families. Be sure to play up the aspects that appeal to these types of buyers. For instance, if you’re selling a three-bedroom house, stage one as an office to show that it’s a multi-purpose space. Also, since it gets darker earlier in the evening, try to have viewings during the day. Houses look better with natural light, so avoid showings at night. I also highly recommend raking the leaves and cleaning up the yard. While fall leaves can look pretty on the lawn, all people will be able to think of is the amount of yard work they’ll have to do if they buy the house.

Winter

Winter is a slow season for real estate, so take this opportunity to do your research and get prepared for the busy spring market. If there are any major fixes or upgrades you want to make, now is the time. If you plan to stage your house for selling, investigate your options and the logistics. Keep in mind, you’ll need to store all your excess furniture if you don’t already have a new home. I also recommend that you find a listing agent and get a pre-inspection. If you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you’ll be in good shape come spring. If you must sell your house in the winter, price aggressively and be prepared to negotiate. With fewer buyers looking to purchase in the off-season, you may need to entertain some lower-than-expected offers. Be aware of this so that you’re well prepared when negotiations begin.