Selling a home during the winter can sometimes be a slow process, with sellers typically seeing fewer buyers and lower offers. But this winter is shaping up to be a whole different reality, even a hot seller’s market.
The coronavirus has changed real estate in many ways, and perhaps one of the biggest is the multitude of buyers who put off buying during the first wave of the pandemic and now are expected to flood the market this winter.
That means sellers who are willing to put their homes on the market now could reap the benefits. Here are six ways to make the most of this unprecedented time and enjoy a blizzard of buyers this winter.
1. Price your home on the high end
COVID-19 has created an uncertain economy, so you may think that pricing your home on the low end is the way to go. But that’s not the case.
According to a realtor.com report, the national median home listing price jumped 11.1 percent in September compared with last year, reaching $350,000, and price per square foot rose 13.9 percent.
The bottom line? These days, you’re likely to get offers at list price or even higher. Another plus: The low interest rates could keep monthly mortgage payments low, so buyers might be able to afford a more expensive home.
2. Make your home move-in ready
Buyers are seeking homes that won’t need a lot of remodeling and repair work after they move in, so it will benefit sellers more than ever to make small repairs and upgrades that will increase a home’s value and justify a high offer.
Cleaning up the landscaping and painting are two recommended upgrades. Sellers also would be smart to highlight features that will appeal to today’s buyers. Since the coronavirus, people are spending more time at home, so they are looking to purchase properties with more space, privacy, rooms that can double as home offices or learning spaces, and top-notch outdoor spaces.
3. Make sure your listing provides a virtual tour
The pandemic has made many buyers leery of checking out homes in person unless they see one they truly love. The upshot for sellers? Your listing will really need to shine online—and one of the best ways to do this is by offering a virtual tour.
Sellers might want to consider having a 3-D tour readily available for buyers who don’t want to do an in-person tour. This approach is also more convenient for sellers, since it can help minimize the number of strangers touring their home. Buyers can get a good sense if your home meets their needs without actually stepping inside.
4. Take safety seriously
While virtual tours can minimize the foot traffic in your home, a buyer eventually will want to see it in person. So, it’s a good idea to ensure that you and your real estate agent are doing everything you can to make in-person tours as safe as possible. To do this, restrict the number of showings per day, include gaps between showings and limit the size of groups seeing a home at once.
Requiring masks and social distancing also are par for the course.
When people do have to see your home, leave doors, closets and cabinets open throughout the house to minimize what they have to touch. Also keep in mind that once everybody leaves, it will be up to you to clean and sanitize your house.
5. Don’t accept an offer too quickly
The real estate market this winter is incredibly competitive. With so few homes on the market, sellers are poised to receive multiple offers, sometimes all at once. But sellers shouldn’t get in a hurry and accept an offer too quickly.
Typically, sellers have 24 to 48 hours to accept an offer.
If you jump the gun and say yes too soon, you could be leaving money on the table. Take time to carefully consider each offer you receive. If the offer is too low, you can always counter with a number closer to the asking price.
6. Close remotely if you can
Sellers should try to make the home-buying process as virtual and digital as possible. More buyers and sellers now are able to complete the closing process remotely in most areas of the country, something that wasn’t possible a few months ago.
Pre-pandemic, remote closings weren’t possible everywhere, because some states didn’t allow documents to be notarized remotely. To keep real estate transactions and other business flowing during the Covid-19 crisis, most states issued emergency declarations now allowing for remote notarizations, according to the National Notary Association. Along with limiting in-person contact, remote closings are much more convenient.