How To Prep Your House for Sale This Fall

Today’s housing market is different than it was just a few months ago. And if you’re thinking about selling your house, that may leave you wondering what you need to do differently as a result. The answer is simple. Taking the time upfront to prep your house appropriately and create a solid plan can help bring in the greatest return on your investment.

Here are a few simple tips to make sure you maximize the sale of your house this fall.

1. Price It Right

One of the first things buyers will notice is the price of your house. That’s because the price sends a message to home shoppers. Pricing your house too high to begin with could put you at a disadvantage by discouraging buyers from making an offer. On the flip side, pricing your house too low may make buyers worry there’s some underlying issue or something wrong with the home.

Your goal in pricing your house is to gain the attention of prospective buyers and get them to make an offer. And with price growth and buyer demand moderating, as well as a greater supply of homes available for sale, pricing your home appropriately for where the market is today has become more important than ever before.

But how do you know that perfect number? Pricing your house isn’t a guessing game. It takes skill and expertise. Work with a trusted real estate advisor to determine the current market value for your home.

2. Keep It Clean

It may sound simple but keeping your house clean is another key to making sure it gets the attention it deserves. As says in the Home Selling Checklist:

When selling your home, it’s important to keep everything tidy for buyers, and you never know when a buyer is going to want to schedule a last-minute tour.”

Before each buyer visits, assess your space and determine what needs your attention. Wash the dishes, make the beds, and put away any clutter. Doing these simple things can reduce potential distractions for buyers.

For more tips, check out this checklist for preparing your house for sale. Ultimately an agent is your best resource for tailored advice, but this list can help get you started.

3. Help Buyers Feel at Home

Finally, it’s important for buyers to see all the possible ways they can make your house their next home. An easy first step to create this blank canvas is removing personal items, like pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings. It’s also a good idea to remove any excess furniture to help the rooms feel bigger and make sure there’s ample space for touring buyers to stand and look at the layout.

If you’re unsure what should be packed away and what can stay, consult your trusted real estate advisor. Spending the time on this step can pay off in the long run. As a recent article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

Staging is the art of preparing a home to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers in your market. The right arrangements can move you into a higher price-point and help buyers fall in love the moment they walk through the door.”

More Tips to Help Sell a Home in Autumn

Clean Up the Yard
You'll want to ensure that your front lawn looks neat and tidy when potential buyers arrive at showings. Create a to-do list and send the whole family to work outside.

Rake up dead leaves and debris from your lawn. Don't let overgrown vegetation block the windows or the path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs back will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cutaway summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.

Create Autumn Curb Appeal
The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. Marigolds are another good idea for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, a number one home selling color. Plant them in pots, then place the pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. Accent with pumpkins or other types of squash.

Dress the Windows
Rain and wind from the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by the time late fall rolls around. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level. Your windows have to sparkle to sell your home. Maybe your cats routinely rub their little noses on the inside glass while they're walking along window ledges. Wash your windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens, and spray them down.

Check the HVAC
You want the air inside your home to smell fresh. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? You can buy 90-day furnace filters.

Check the HVAC system before you need to turn on the heater. A buyer will almost certainly ask a home inspector to look at it. Some buyers will waive a home inspection contingency when they make an offer on your home, but this number is dropping, so you should anticipate having an inspection on your home. NAR indicates that 27% of buyers waived this contingency in July 2021, but that dropped to just 19% by December 2021.2

Note: It's better to fix problems with your furnace before your home goes on the market.

Clean Out the Fireplace
Nothing smells of autumn quite like smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. Unfortunately, burning wood indoors or outdoors is outlawed in some parts of the country. You can light your gas fireplace when buyers come through if you have one. Vacuum the fireplace and wash it down if it's filled with cobwebs because it hasn't been used for months.

Some ​home stagers arrange knick knacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs.

About Those Bathrooms
Take a quick peek in your bathrooms prior to hosting a showing. You're going to want to give the whole bathroom a good cleaning before inviting prospective buyers if there are mildew marks in the bath or shower. Buyers are especially tuned in to how problematic mildew and mold can be in older bathrooms.

Prepare Autumn Edibles
Speaking of autumn scents, you might want to set out freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or simmer some hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Prop open a cookbook to an autumn stew recipe. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.

Set the Mood With Music
Think beyond "See You in September." German beer festivals are often held in October, but polka music and accordions aren't appropriate for autumn home selling. You'll be better off with Enya's "The First of Autumn" or George Winston's new age piano album "Autumn."

Use Autumn Accent Colors
You don't have to dump that lifeless sofa. Accessorize its dullness with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows instead. Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. Bring a few autumn hues to each room by placing bold-colored accent pieces in odd groupings, such as threes and fives.

Note: Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles. Stick in a few leaves from the yard.

Turn on the Lights
Above all, bring in the light. The sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows when days get shorter. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, and push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and those in closets. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.

Offer Parting Treats
Gathering buyer feedback can be crucial. Consider leaving a guestbook by the door for people to leave comments about the home. They'll feel more compelled to leave you a note if you give them something in return, like tiny packets of candy corn or those snack-sized candy bars. Or you can go all out and leave a tray of individually wrapped caramelized apples, tied with a curling ribbon.



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