Alexandria VA Homes for Sale: October 2015

We Want to List in the Spring...No Hurry, Though

What do you mean, no hurry?  

It's almost November!

And you know what that means?  The holiday season is right around the corner, followed by winter, which means cold weather and probably some rain and snow, given the el Nino weather pattern the weather gurus are talking about...

Before we know it, seriously, the Spring Market will be upon us. 

And while to the average unsuspecting mortal this means you have months upon months to start making plans to put your house on the market, in all reality, it's time to plan NOW. 

Yes, now.  Well, okay, at least soon. 

Why now (or at least soon)?  Because if you start planning now:

  • you actually do have time to plan - at your convenience; 
  • you have control over when everything gets done;
  • you have time to find the right help (if needed) for your projects; 
  • you can take the time to shop sales (who doesn't like saving money?);
  • you will not run out of time, leaving important projects unfinished, which could affect not only the price you ultimately get for your house, but also lengthen your days on market.  And no one wants that. 

Unless you are living in a pristine-show-ready house that could literally go on the market tomorrow (I'm sure they exist), most of us need some time to take stock of how our homes would appear to others and tackle some projects.

Before you rush out, though, and start buying cans of paint or ordering new carpet, I have some words of wisdom to impart.

While it is absolutely fine to start decluttering and hauling things off to the local Goodwill store, please do not make plans for any home improvements before you hire a real estate agent. 

After all, who knows better what buyers are looking for these days than those of us who are in the trenches day in and day out, seeing what houses are selling (and which ones are lingering), observing what buyers are responding to (and what they are rejecting)?  There is nothing more heartbreaking for a listing agent than to walk into a house with thousands of dollars of very taste specific brand new updates, all of which were done without today's buyers in mind.

Not only can we make suggestions as to what updates or improvements you can make to get the most bang for your buck, but that is part of our job we truly enjoy - and we love sharing the knowledge we have gained from years of experience with our clients.  Plus, as an added bonus, we have great contacts with local contractors and service providers.

So, what if you're anxious to get started and aren't really ready to think about hiring an agent?  Well, while, of course, I would argue you should hire an agent at the very beginning and leverage their experience at this stage of the process (because it is part of what we do), if you really want to put that off for a bit, well, there are plenty of things you can do of which even the most persnickety of agents would approve:

 Declutter, declutter, declutter.  If you have magazines, books or junk mail sitting around, while you wait for a chance to read it, go through it, see if you can live without it and trash it.  Or give it to a friend who may like to have the latest issue of Bon Appetit (and has time to cook!).  A garage full of broken small appliances or unused sports equipment?  Whatever, time to toss.  

Ditto for clothes you no longer wear (but eventually I will!  I just need to lose 10/20/30 pounds.  Seriously!) or bed linens you have not put on the bed in the last decade...if you are a pack rat by nature and not by necessity, it's time to shape up.  If you cannot bear to just throw things in the trash bin, no problem. There are many worthy causes who would love to have your gently used hand-me-downs.  So, help others while you help yourself and put your house on a diet.  Think about it this way - you have to pack eventually, because you are moving, right?  Go ahead and get started.   

Think model home. Think clean surfaces. We've all been in them and swooned over the beautiful furniture, the to-die-for accessories, the perfect window coverings...why do you think builders spend a small fortune staging their new homes?  Because that's what sells new homes.  And it will sell your home, too.  

Right now, you're just getting ready of as much clutter and "stuff" as you possibly can so that you're prepared when the time comes to get your house ready to go on the market.   

Take a critical look around at the basics. While you are decluttering and getting rid of things, take a good, critical look around...not at the house you have lived in for the past few years, but at the house as a stranger would see it.

What do you see?  Peeling paint and faded hardware on your front door?  A front lawn that is losing its battle against weeds?  Missing shingles on the roof?  Gutters hanging askew? Mildewed siding? You don't want that deferred maintenance to come back and bite you when buyers make the assumption your  house has not been as well maintained as your competition down the street. 

It's time to make a list of those items you can and are willing to tackle.  With time to do some research on what you will need to spend to get those gutters cleaned and the siding power washed, I think you'll find there are lots of improvements you can make that won't cost you an arm and a leg, but will pay big dividends in how prospective buyers see your home.  You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive landscaping, but it is amazing what a difference a few bags of mulch and a few big pots of flowers can do.

Once you've gotten your house decluttered and gotten the deferred maintenance taken care of and are ready to hire an agent, you will be in great shape to hear her or his suggestions for paint colors, flooring, and any other updates that you may need to make to be sure your house puts its best foot foward when it goes on the market.  


From Northern Virginia to the Northern Neck, we provide you with stellar service (just read what some of our former clients have to say about it) and top notch market knowledge to help you sell your current home or buy your next dream home.

 Visit our website to search homes for sale or for more information on how we can work together to reach your real estate goals.

Comment balloon 13 commentsSusan Haughton • October 23 2015 04:07PM
We Want to List in the Spring… No Hurry, Though
What do you mean, no hurry It's almost November! And you know what that means? The holiday season is right around the corner followed by winter, which means cold weather and probably some rain and snow, given the el Nino weather pattern the… more