The fall real estate market is almost always a hot season. Families have returned from summer vacations. Kids have gone back to school. The holidays aren't upon us—at least not yet. We are set to enjoy 75 to 80 days of normalcy, and that's a great time to sell a home.
In parts of the country with four seasons, we watch leaves explode in vibrant colors as for sale signs pop up in yards. People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop. It's not just sweater weather that creates static electricity in autumn; it's the scurrying of agents diligently working to pop a few more sales into the hopper before third-quarter sales results are posted.
When selling a home in the autumn, you'll want to be sure your front lawn looks neat and tidy when potential buyers arrive at showings. Create yourself a to-do list and set the whole family to work outside.
Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don't let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cutaway summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.
The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. Marigolds are another idea for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color. Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. Accent with pumpkins or other types of squash.
Rain and wind from over the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by autumn. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level. Your windows need to sparkle to sell a home. Maybe your cats routinely rub their little noses on the inside glass while walking along window ledges. You'll need to wash my windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens and spray them down.
You want the air inside your home to smell fresh. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? You can buy 90-day furnace filters. Check the HVAC system before you need to turn on the heater. Besides, the buyer will ask a home inspector to look at your HVAC. If you discover problems with your furnace, it's better to fix them before your home goes on the market.
Ah, nothing smells like autumn than smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. However, in some parts of the country, burning wood indoors or outdoors is outlawed. In Sacramento, we have certain days when we are not allowed to burn wood in the fireplace. If you have a gas fireplace, light it when buyers come through. If the fireplace is filled with cobwebs because it hasn't been used for months, vacuum it out and wash it down. Some home stagers arrange knickknacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs.
In addition to cleaning out the fireplace, you should also take a quick peek in your bathrooms prior to hosting a showing. If there are mildew marks in the bath or shower, you're going to want to give the whole bathroom a good cleaning before inviting in prospective buyers. This is because buyers, these days, are especially tuned into how problematic mildew and mold can be in older bathrooms.
Speaking of autumn scents, you might set out freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Prop open a cookbook to an autumn stew. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.
When thinking of autumn music, beyond "See You in September" and "California Dreamin'," polka music and accordions come to mind. German beer festivals are often held in October. But that doesn't seem appropriate for autumn home selling unless you're entertaining a frat house. A home seller is better off with Enya's "The First of Autumn" or George Winston's new age piano album "Autumn."
You don't need to dump a lifeless sofa when you can accessorize its dullness with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows. Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. After you've cleared away the clutter and depersonalized each room, bring a few autumn hues to each room by placing bold-colored accent pieces in odd groupings such as 3's and 5's. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.
Above all, 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. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture, and for goodness sakes, turn off the TV.
Maybe you could leave a guestbook by the door for people to leave comments about the home? Gathering buyer feedback can be crucial. And buyers will feel more compelled to leave you a note if you give them something in return, like tiny packets of candy corn or those snack-sized candy bars. Or you can go all-out and leave a tray of individually wrapped caramelized apples, tied with a curling ribbon.