"Do we really have to do that?" the Seller asked. "None of that was done when we bought the house." (True.)
Uhhh, when exactly was that?
We understand that when Realtors show up "recommending" a long list of items to attend to, our suggestions are rarely met with enthusiasm and zeal. (Why would they be?) And it wouldn't be too far afield to admit that there's something innately offensive about Realtors® explaining why it's important to "neutralize" the design to make it more current. (It's because we're usually selling to a younger generation.) We also acknowledge that selling real estate has become a HUGE and inconvenient production often involving many moving parts that quite frankly, weren't required two decades ago when you bought the home, well before Instagram, Meta, and Tik Tok became the vessels for mass marketing.
"Can't we just sell without all the fanfare?"
Yes, you absolutely can . . . as long as you're willing to take LESS!
However, if top-dollar is the desired goal (as it is for most Sellers), the bulk of the home-buying public prefers a property that is "turn-key." especially in a world that is fast approaching 8% with respect to interest rates. The thinking is that if Buyers are paying a premium, they might as well get the house of their dreams. (BTW Buyers: "Perfect" doesn't exist - so you can throw that expectation out the window.)
To be clear, anyone who has ever owned property knows that ALL homes require ongoing maintenance; that's just the nature of the beast. Hence, 10 or 20 years down the road - when Sellers decide to sell - most homes will have a noticeable amount of deferred maintenance that should be addressed prior to bringing the property to market. At the very least, there's going to be a fair amount of painting. Put another way, if you are on the sell side of the equation, it's not too early to reach out to your Agent NOW if your desire is to sell anytime in 2024.
Too often, prospective Sellers wait until January to contact our team, and while that's all well and good, for those who have taken a proactive approach, we're already lining up painters, stagers and vendors to work through the winter months with the intention of being among the first active listings to come out of the gate come January (well ahead of the pack). In my experience, getting a running start is highly beneficial.
While it's correct to assume that the spring market often brings the best results, it's important to note that in Northern California, the spring market comes earlier than most Homeowners believe. (In Main or New Hampshire, you might be looking at June.)
Because very few houses come to the market in November and December, there's typically huge pent-up demand and little competition as early as January and February. Thus, these months often produce some of our best and most surprising results. (Assuming we're not inundated with rain, It's always better to sell in the sunshine.) In other words, the perfect conditions to sell are when "supply and demand" work in your favor. (This is true for Buyers as well.)
Given that the housing market is softening, that 84% of Buyers are choosing to wait, that housing affordability is at a 40-year low, that mortgage applications are also at a multi-decade low, that many insurers have fled the state, and that days on market (DOM) has nearly doubled, Sellers may find themselves on the short end of the stick for the first time in more than a decade, SIMPLY because it's far more expensive to buy and carry homes in the Bay Area. Consequently, the more emotionally engaging we make your property, the more inviting, and the more desirable, the better off your results will be.
But if you prefer to sell "As Is," you needn't do anything more than fill out your disclosures and sign the listing agreement. Moreover, because all homes are NOT created equal, we'll concede that there are some houses that are better off without the fanfare, as long as you understand that you are likely to see a lower return as a result.
Hey, I'm just the messenger (and the negotiator, the project manager, the marketer, the presenter, and the advocator . . . ). What you do is entirely your business. But at the end of the day, no matter how much you love your home, and no matter how special you believe it to be, selling a property should be a business transaction first and foremost. Wouldn't you agree?
How can we help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 750 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.