Oct 13, 2010

Selling a Home During the Slow Season

That slow season is now. Yes, it's October, and the homebuyers of the world are ready to settle in for the winter, keep their kids in the same school district, and avoid loading a moving van during a rainstorm. (I've done it, and it's not fun.) Now is traditionally a time when the real estate market goes into hibernation, and even more since it was already sluggish.

But, just as unusual circumstances may force you to sell right now, there are always a few buyers still circulating, and steps you can take to attract them. For starters, check out the interesting and timely advice from Inman columnist Mary Umberger, on "5 Tips for an Autumn Home Sale."

I'll add a few tips here, most of which assume you won't be living in your house while it's on the market.

The first is to keep an eye on those cobwebs. Spiders can spin up some impressive Halloween decor in just a few hours, and there's nothing that makes a house look more forlorn -- especially as the dust gathers.

Another is to keep the heat on. It kills me to say this, given the waste of energy involved, but if a house isn't at least at 63 degrees when people walk in, they'll be shivering, and in no hurry to stay for long.

The third is to make sure your open houses emphasize coziness, as appropriate to the season. The old stager's device of putting a pie into the oven at around 200 degrees, in order to make the place smell good, works really well now. And if the pie doesn't completely dehydrate, you may even get to eat it when the open house is over.