Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa’s Home Sale Tips

The real estate myth that “no one buys a home during the Holidays” is debunked every time another property is sold between turkey dinners and gift wrapping. These past weeks have been exceptionally busy at the office and based on the most frequent questions sellers and buyers ask, I offer Santa’s list of “do’s and don’ts”.

1. “What’s that smell?” Homes have aromas. Some are fresh and new. Some are old and stale. Some harbor animal or smoke odors. Some still have the fish dinner from last night hovering when a buyer is due to visit. There are steps a homeowner can take to clean the air but one must not draw attention to the remedy. If the home is vacant or needs freshening for other reasons, open windows and doors to air the home. During the colder months be sure to time such “airing” so that the home is warm and inviting in time to be shown. Use air fresheners sparingly and be careful when spraying over solid floors to avoid causing slippage. If you use aromatic candles, extinguish them at least twenty minutes before the showing and PUT THEM AWAY. Many buyers understandably assume that lit candles are being used to “hide” odors. A soft, clean scent rather than a strong fragrance should greet the buyer as the door opens.
2. “How about my pets?” I love mine and you love yours but a buyer may not share our devotion to our pets. The buyer, in fact, may have serious allergies or be afraid of pets in the home they wish to see. It is always best to take your pets for a long walk or ride when your home is being shown. I will not soon forget the demonic feline that greeted buyers and me as we climbed the stairs to the second floor. Standing on its back legs with front paws and claws reaching out to do facelifts on everyone, this hissing, growling guard cat saved that second floor with its beautiful bedrooms and baths from ever being seen or sold. On another occasion, a two hundred pound Mastiff with the best intentions appeared just as the front door opened. He cocked his head in a curious position and watched as the buyer ran screaming back to the car. The seller had assured the Realtor that his beloved buffalo would be behind a gate. He was. He simply walked through it in his excitement to make a new friend.
3. “What should I do about my Christmas Decorations?” By all means, put them up. Christmas decorations are warm and inviting and their very glow suggests a happy home and heart. That said, I have a brother who makes it his mission to get a bigger tree every year. Because we have had many decades together, and based on the fact that his wife and children could barely enter the room last year, his living room walls and ceiling will have to be removed this year. As I write, he is in the process of accomplishing the engineering marvel necessary to achieve this year’s “Rockefeller Center” goal. Please keep this insanity in my family and not yours when the goal is to sell the home. Passageways must be kept free and easy to maneuver so that your Realtor need not bring along a buzz saw to show the property.
4. “Is it best to wait till the Holidays are over or until spring to put my house on the market? That depends. If your goal is to sell your home for the most money in the shortest period of time, the answer is to list it now. The buyers are buying now. The rates, although still low historically, have increased steadily over the past few weeks as of this writing. Generally higher rates mean less borrowing power for a consumer to buy your home. The other critical component is that home prices are not increasing despite the rhetoric that occurs during political campaigns. Waiting with the hope of “getting more” for your home in the near future is unrealistic according to every reliable survey in our industry. Know that having your home on the market can be stressful for you and it requires work to keep it in good showing condition. Minimizing stress during the holidays may meet your needs more so than optimizing the chance for sale during this period. As for waiting until spring, know that the fall and spring markets have been described as “more active” in the past, but the market changes of the past few years have affected all trends to the point where an age old home selling rule emerges; “It only takes one buyer.” If that one buyer does not see your home while you are “waiting to put it on”, he will buy another property on Christmas Eve or in the middle of a January blizzard. He has. She does. He will.

Speak to your Realtor about your thoughts and needs. Make this very important decision about your largest asset with the professional help that is invaluable. Kevin, if you are reading this article, and you are thinking of selling your home before Christmas, you may have trouble reaching me. My cell phone has been acting up recently………no, really……it has been……..

Broker/Realtor Janet Hilton is a former practicing attorney and critical care RN who with her husband retired Lynn Fire Lieutenant George Hilton own and operate Country Crossroads Realty at 28 Bay Road, South Hamilton, MA. For expert advice and services in the buying and selling of real estate, call 978-468-5910 or visit THE OFFICE IS A DROP OFF CENTER FOR TOYS FOR TOTS ……..Our Own Realtor/Marine Lloyd Smith may be reached at 978-853-7655 for more information.