Pleasant weather and richly hued foliage make fall one of the most beautiful times of the year. If you're selling a home, take advantage of it! As your summer plants start to fade, replace them with vibrant mums or other fall-blooming flowers. Tasteful autumn decorations -- like pumpkins, tri-colored corn or a wreath on the door -- can also enhance your home's curb appeal. But don't think the beauty of fall lets you off the hook when it comes to lawn maintenance. Be sure to keep falling leaves at bay with frequent raking, and patch up any brown spots in the grass.
Without breaking the bank, get a few fall-colored decorations for inside your house as well, like inexpensive window treatments or seasonal dinnerware. Fresh decor will make your space seem current and well-maintained.
#2: FALL BUYERS: Time Your Home Purchase to Get a Great Deal
Spring and summer are known as the peak seasons for real estate activity, but if you're looking for a bargain, you may want to put your house hunt on hold until August or September. While the selection of homes on the market might not be as plentiful as in the spring, you'll have less competition from other buyers. Plus, sellers will be more motivated and willing to negotiate, so they may be more willing to respond to lower offers.
#3: FALL SELLERS: Think Like a Buyer
Buyers have the mindset that fall sellers missed the boat and are desperate to unload their homes. After all, why didn't you sell in the spring when buyers were out in full force? Fall house hunters are looking for bargains, so don't be surprised or offended if you receive lowball offers. Instead, be prepared to make counteroffers and negotiate until you can settle on a price you're satisfied with.
#4: FALL BUYERS: Find Motivated Sellers
While some fall home sellers are just testing the market, others are on a deadline to close a deal before the holidays. If you're looking for a bargain, you definitely want to work with homeowners who need to sell fast, as they may be willing to come down in price to make a quick sale. To locate these motivated sellers, look for homes that have been on the market for a long time or have had price reductions. Online listings often provide this information, or you can ask your real estate agent.
#5: FALL SELLERS: Freshen Up Your Listing Photos
If your home has been on the market since spring or summer, don't make it obvious with your listing photos. Photos from the previous season make your listing seem dated, so add brand-new fall shots to make it look fresh and new.
#6: FALL BUYERS: Explore New Construction
If you're looking for a bargain on a brand-new home, house hunting during the fall is the way to go. Builders usually start discounting their inventory or offering incentives around September to sell as many homes as possible before the end of the year. When spring rolls around, prices on these homes go back up as demand rises, so take advantage of them while you can.
#7: FALL SELLERS: Price It to Sell
Overpricing is a bad move for sellers in any season, but it's particularly risky during the fall. Homebuyers are looking for bargains during this off-peak season, so if your home is priced too high, they won't give it a second look. Command their attention by pricing your home competitively -- possibly lower than comparable homes in your neighborhood. Setting your listing price just right could lead to a bidding war, resulting in a higher sales price for you. A top-notch real estate agent like JANICE BOKOR AT PRUDENTIAL FOX & ROACH REALTORS IN PENNSYLVANIA & NEW JERSEY can help you price your home correctly.
#8: FALL BUYERS: Look for Fall Maintenance Issues
Shopping for a home in the fall gives you the opportunity to look for red flags that may not be noticeable during other seasons. For instance, when touring a home, take a look at its gutters and downspouts. If they're overflowing with leaves, you know the seller hasn't taken the time to clean them. If they're not keeping up with their gutters, what other home maintenance items have they overlooked?
#9: FALL SELLERS: Be Flexible
You just got home from vacation, the kids are heading back to school, and the holidays are right around the corner. Fall is a busy season -- but not just for you. Homebuyers' schedules are just as hectic, so if you're serious about making a sale, be adaptable when it comes to showing your home and holding open houses. This might mean opening your home to strangers on weekends or weeknights.
#10: FALL BUYERS: Make a Strategic Offer and Save Cash at Closing
Shaping a solid offer in the fall requires some skill. While sellers may be more willing to respond to lower offers, you don't want to completely turn them off with bids way below their asking prices. Unless you have a thorough knowledge of your local housing market, you'll want to hire a great real estate agent to help you make an offer and navigate the tricky negotiating process to get a great deal.
Once your offer has been accepted, you can save even more cash at closing by asking your lender about seller concessions. Also called seller contributions, this is an agreement in which the seller pays part or all of your closing costs. Seller concessions typically range from 2 to 9 percent of the purchase price; the specific amount your seller can contribute depends on what type of loan you get and how much you borrow from the lender.