How to Reap the Rewards of an Appreciating Housing Market
As many were getting ready to sing "Auld Lang Syne" to 2012, the housing industry was excitedly saying "hello" to the headlines indicating an auspicious 2013. For example:
Home Prices Hit a Milestone: Growing Demand, Shrinking Supply Buoy
Housing Market; 'Tide Has Changed' Wall Street Journal, 12.26.2012
Home Prices Could Jump 9.7% in 2013, J.P. Morgan Says, Wall Street Journal, 12.24.2012
Home prices post biggest annual jump in two years, CNNMONEY 12.26.2012
While that is indeed good news for this year's home sellers, a bit of advice is needed before one mentally re-adjusts personal net worth skyward. There are certain steps a seller must take in order to reap the rewards of an increasing market. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. The Price is Right. It takes a professional to help balance the variables between the latest comparable home sales in a neighborhood, increasing buyer demand, and shrinking inventory. Work with your real estate agent to get a good handle on comparable sales, home specific amenities and improvements. The goal is not to match the last sale but to surpass it and you'll need solid support to get there. This is a time where a delicate balance is needed between capturing every dollar of appreciation and having valid support for the buyers and appraisers.
2. Fix-it first. A home that is well maintained and has no outstanding issues reflects highly with today's buyers and will result in solid offers. A home inspection by a reputable inspector prior to listing will go far (look for ASHI certified inspectors). That little list of home fix-its? Well, fix-it before your home goes on the market. Today's buyers do not want to inherit your left-over problems. It creates unease and opens the door to the great unknown, such as "I wonder what else they have let slide."
3. Declutter, clean, purge, shine. Another truism is that we often do not see what is front of our face. This is never so true then when it comes to where we live and our stuff. When it comes to staging my first words to sellers when it comes to staging is that "the way we live in a house is not the way we sell a house,” and my second is “yes, it really does make a vital difference". A buyer needs to feel the flow of the rooms, see the features- not see your photo collection of family thrice removed throughout the house. And do not forget the exterior. Clean siding, doors, invest in new hardware, spruce up the mulch and trim the hedges. First impressions are hard to beat.
4. Photographic Staging. With your left over energy from packing, cleaning and fixing take your digital camera or cell phone camera and take pictures of your rooms at different times of the day. Today's buyers are on-line and if they cannot see the appeal of the rooms they are not going to get off the computer, into a car and visit your ho-hum house. It needs to tantalize. Rooms need to be viewed as coherent and interesting. Think layers, complementary colors, focal points, a wide angle lens and correct lighting. Work with your agent to do this before the professional photographers come for pictures.
5. Hype the lifestyle. Talk with your agent about the latest in trending buzz words. Yes, truly, there is such a thing as trendy buzz words. Is it walkability, efficient living, green appliances, golf-course living, no yard maintenance, top rated schools? How about urban chic vs. open floor plans? Play like Bobby Flay? Your house needs to standout and above the normal chatter.
All indications are positive for the 2013 housing market. Take the time to make the right steps to insure your home and your investment can make the most of this opportunity.