Change out listing photos, landscaping to
capture more eyeballs
Here's a sure giveaway that a home has been
lingering, unwanted, on the market for an uncomfortable amount of time: At the
height of summer, the exterior photo -- taken when the house was first listed
for sale -- shows snow on the ground.
Seasonality counts in marketing a
home, and it's especially true now, in the fall.
Five things to keep in
mind if you're trying to find a buyer when autumn leaves begin to
1. Those annuals and perennials might have looked glorious in
July, but now they're reduced to ragged brown stems and a few clingy leaves --
and they all have to go. Melody Herr, who is president of Selling
Impressions in Farmington Hills, Mich., and is the Michigan state president of
the Real Estate Staging Association, a trade group, recommends not only a
thorough clean-out of last summer's blooms, but replacing them with a few
chrysanthemums in order to add brightness to the yard.
And need we mention raking leaves? It might take
repeated efforts to keep up with the leaves, but the yard will show better
without them, she said.
2. Holiday decorations
are always an issue in home staging, but usually the argument revolves around
not overdoing the Christmas spirit. Fall has its own issues, Herr
"Halloween is great for kids, but I would limit it," she said. "If
it's done in moderation, it's all right. It can be overwhelming" to buyers, who
might find too many goblins around the house to be distracting or even
Thanksgiving is less an issue, Herr said, because it's a
"neutral" holiday, with limited decoration.
3. The days are getting
shorter and your rooms are getting darker -- and darker rooms don't show
well, she said.
The simplest fix is to turn on more lights, and Herr
suggested swapping out the lightbulbs to ones that project a warmer rather than
a cooler light.
A more labor-intensive solution: "If a house is dark
inside, we might recommend lightening up the paint colors for fall," she
Also, consider how clean the windows look if the house has been
listed for some time and you haven't taken a close look at them lately, she
"Make sure you do a good fall cleaning," Herr said. "People think
of cleaning in the spring, not necessarily in the fall."
4. Fire up
the hearth. Although buyers traditionally love fireplaces, they might be
more attuned to their charms at this time of year, when a chill is in the
Of course, lighting the fire would have to be timed carefully to
coincide with a scheduled showing, she said, and there are obvious safety
considerations if no one will be in the home until the agent and buyers
But -- this goes back to pointer No. 3 -- fireplace ashes are a
no-no for showings. If you're using your fireplace for any reason this season,
you'll have to stay on top of the ashes.
5. Get a new set of listing
photos -- showing off those mums and that leaf-free yard -- if your for-sale
sign has been there for months.
"You really want to keep those
pictures as current as possible," Herr said. "And if your house isn't for sale
but you're thinking about putting it on the market next year, take pictures
throughout the seasons" that are available for buyers to peruse.
put it on the market in winter, and buyers can't always visualize what it would
look like in the summer months," she said.