Traditionally, we tend to think of spring and summer as the prime time to put your home on the market, when families are trying to scoop up properties before the next school year.
But listing your home during those warmer months is not always possible. Maybe you’ve found a new job in another city. Or perhaps your home simply wasn’t in selling shape when summer rolled around.
The fact is, jumping into the market earlier in the year isn’t always the best strategy, either. The autumn season in the Washington area is still a surprisingly active time for buyers – even if the pace of transactions isn’t quite as frenetic as the summertime.
The mild September and October weather that we typically enjoy in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia region works in the seller’s favor. For many folks, skipping from one open house to another is a more pleasant experience in the fall rather than in the hotter, sticky summer months.
If you’re looking to attract first-time homebuyers, fall may actually be the perfect time to enter the market. That’s because more couples than ever are getting married – and finding a new home together – now. October actually surpassed June last year as the most common month for weddings for the first time. Because these couples don’t typically have to worry about getting kids settled in before the school year, buying later in the year isn’t an issue.
Inventory still low
There are several reasons for optimism when you look at the current market fundamentals, too. For example, many buyers have seen a long stretch of declining year-over-year inventory levels in the Washington metro area. However, with our over 30 years of experience and relationships in this area – we have been able to maintain high levels of inventory!
The result: homes have been virtually flying off the market (in June, the median time on the market was just 12 days in the DMV). That means sellers have been able to hold firm on their pricing. The average home received 98.5% of the original list price in June – a sure sign that sellers are in a strong position.
Now, if history is any guide, the pace of sales will decrease somewhat in the fall. But the relatively low number of listings heading into autumn will likely help sellers. Last September, the median time on the market was 24 days in greater Washington – still a pretty brisk pace.
In other words, don’t expect the changing seasons to turn this into a buyers’ market overnight.
It’s also worth noting that interest rates have been on the decline of late, which tends to give buyers the confidence to start looking. At the time of this writing, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage came with a rate of 3.90% nationwide, representing a 6-week low.
Staging for fall
Selling a home quickly is always a lot easier when you present it well. But in the fall, there are several special considerations that you’ll want to keep in mind.
1) Boost curb appeal. First impressions are key. And when that initial impression is a lawn that’s piled high with leaves, it could signal an owner who’s not on his or her game. Regular raking can go a long way to boost curb appeal. To convey a little flare, think about adding some seasonal décor outside your home, like a nice wreath.
2) Add seasonal charm. There’s nothing like the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spice to evoke the feeling of autumn. A lightly scented candle or some potpourri can give your home a sense of warmth that buyers look for this time of year.
3) Light it right. The days get shorter in the fall, so the last thing you want a potential buyer to find when they open the door a dimly lit home. Be sure to open the blinds throughout the house to brighten things up. Adding some lights to darker area of your abode is usually a worthwhile investment.
4) Mind your furnace. Any good home inspector will check the HVAC system before filling out their report. When they do, you don’t want your furnace – now coming out of hibernation – to give off a funky smell. Check it beforehand and, if need be, have it cleaned before putting out the “For Sale” sign. A fresh filter always helps, too.
Are you ready to put your home on the market, or start the search for a new property? Call on Washington’s realty experts ‒ Talk to Ray!