There are a lot of steps to selling a home. Here’s some advice and tips learned from working with clients on BOTH sides of the transaction. Selling your house means you want to attract a buyer. Knowing how a buyer thinks is really important and can help you sell your home in the least amount of time for the most amount of money.

Step 1.  Decide when to put your house on the market.

The most common and popular time to list, if you’re in a position to time it, is the Spring. In 2016 and 2015 the late winter and early spring markets were very busy with well priced and quality homes attracting multiple offers and strong sale to list price ratios. Listing in January or February has it’s benefits if you can get a jump start on the market.

Why? Because inventory is scarce. The buyer demand builds all winter when no one is listing their property. The properties remaining on the market since the fall can sometimes get a “picked over” feel. A new listing in January, February or March has an eager audience that hasn’t seen much to excite them. Getting in front of the Spring market means you have less competition because of all the homeowners who are waiting until the spring. It means you have more control and leverage over the transaction for those buyers that need to buy now.

While there is no Crystal Ball that will answer the question of when, there are things you can consider.

Time of Year – Newport is a seasonal location and can experience surges of buyers at the predictable time of summer. If your house is in location or neighborhood popular with folks who come to town for the summer, you might want to hold off and go on the market sometime in March or April. For example, is your property “downtown” or near the beach? Is it in a great location for walking to Thames Street, Bellevue or Broadway?

For the more local neighborhoods, those neighborhoods in north Newport, for example, you can list when you’re ready. Buyers for those neighborhoods are likely to be upsizing or downsizing here in town, or to be military families looking for homes.

Current Competition in Your Neighborhood – How many homes are for sale on your street? If there are more than a couple, have they been on the market long or has it been a brisk market with those homes going under contract quickly?

Some neighborhoods are experiencing a renewed interest from Homebuyers in 2016 and 2017. For example the Kerry Hill neighborhood is attracting new homeowners that are looking for affordable properties. Streets like Gould, Warner and Callender with their proximity to the newly revitalized Broadway still offer a lot of opportunity for purchasing a home under $400,000.

Other areas have been and remain popular year round. Streets like Harrison Avenue never go out of style.

Current Competition in Similar Neighborhoods: Buyers usually have a couple neighborhoods they’re considering. For example, they might be restricting themselves to the Point, the Salve Regina area and Eustis. What’s for sale in those areas that are similar to your neighborhood in price, style and desirability? How fast are those houses selling?

Your agent can prepare statistics that you can refer to quickly to help make these decision.

What’s happening in the Real Estate marketing as a whole –  What’s happening with interest rates? What’s the overall picture of the economy in the State of Rhode Island and the US as a whole. What is happening in Newport? Are there a lot of sailing events coming? Is the War College still carrying a good schedule of classes? Is Raytheon and NUWC still and active employer?

Consumer confidence and a stable economy can affect the Real Estate market. Are homeowners leaving money in the stock market or is there a market for cash buyers? Are interest rates stable or are they on the rise? What is the general state of lending? Is it hard to get loans or are restrictions lessening?

Your Personal Needs and Goals: You may be a military family that has orders to an new duty station which means you need to list now. Sometimes family changes require a move; an elderly parent joining your household or a new baby making the current place feel a bit tight. You may have purchased your new home or taken a job out of town.

All of these factors and more can determine when you list your property.

Step 2: Prepare Yourself and Your House:

When you’re selling your house it’s important to make it look it’s absolute best. There are three things to keep in mind to make your house really shine.

1 – Clean Surfaces and Open Spaces –  Decluttering your home makes your property feel and look bigger. Clutter distracts the buyer’s eyes and attention. Buyers who are looking at your family photos aren’t seeing how large your kitchen is or what wonderful light you have coming through all your Andersen windows.  An overwhelming number of buyers are looking for more space, whether it’s living space or closet space. Make all your spaces look as big as possible.

Put away all your personal photos. Clear counter tops of the myriad small appliances that collect there. Toasters, coffee makers, juicers, radios all make your counter space look less than plentiful.  Remove any overwhelming art or excessive number of pictures or prints from a room. Aim to have a lot of white space. Empty closets of out of season clothing so that there is empty space.

Toss or pack collections of anything. You may love your thimble or snowman collection, but they crowd potential buyers out of your space. A buyer should see lots of places where they can picture their own things.

2 – Staging  Make sure each room is staged to show it’s highest and best use. If you have one of those little bedrooms that doesn’t serve a purpose, make it into an office. If you have a breezeway between your garage and house that’s just filled with sports equipment and shoes, invest in organization furniture and make it look…organized!

Dining rooms should be reclaimed from the piles of paperwork, homework and tax receipts. Basement rec rooms should be staged to show their best sides. If you’re moving you have to get rid of all the extra stuff anyway. Do it now and set up each space to reflect what it’s benefit is to the house as a whole. The goal is to avoid the house tour that says things like “this room would make a great den” when it’s being shown full of unused exercise equipment that’s covered in clothes or blankets.

If the room is a bedroom, put a bed in it and a dresser of some kind. Add a lamp. Get rid of the crafting supplies, unless you’ve got the room set up and functioning well as a crafts room.

3 – Clean Houses Sell, Dirty Houses get Discounted: Clean your house thoroughly before you put it on the market, and clean it regularly the entire time it’s listed for sale.

Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink and especially do not smoke in the house. That means don’t smoke ANYTHING in the house, current marijuana laws notwithstanding. Cigarette smoke in a house will cost you in terms of value and selling price. If you HAVE smoked, remove all the furniture that’s been in that smoke, consider repainting or call a smoke removal expert.

Make sure the outside of your house is clean too. Bikes and toys should be neatly stowed when not in use. Any pet waste should be picked up immediately and all pet toys tucked away after play time. Buyers like to walk around the house and in the yard. Stepping in poo while looking at your house will not leave a lasting positive impression.

 (more to come)