FeaturesTop FeaturesTop Stories

Should You Sell Your Home Now?

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Sellers benefitt from sky-high prices; experts offer tips to get even more for your home

Is it worthwhile to sell your home and downsize? Area real estate agents say the market is still in the seller’s favor, making it a good time to consider moving, especially if the next home is not as costly.

“It can be very difficult to predict what will happen, but the market is still hot,” said Richard Sarkis, real estate agent with Howard Hanna in Rochester. 

He said that people selling a home listed at $250,000 can expect to sell it for $325,000 to $350,000 because of the market’s low inventory.

“Some agents will say you don’t have to do anything to fix it up because we’re in a hot market,” Sarkis said. “But that can change. You want to make your house the best it can be. The cleaner it is, you’ll get the most for your time. The market is changing daily. The more perfection you put into your house, like some elbow grease, you’re only going to get the money back and more.”

Those who do nothing usually receive less than their neighborhood’s sales prices.

Although real estate agents receive a commission from the sale, Sarkis said that working with an agent is worthwhile because the professional can help sellers receive a higher sales price.

To get the very most for the home, sellers should consider upgrading the most important areas of the home: the kitchen and bathroom.

“If you don’t have the money to update, maybe paint it and upgrade the counters,” Sarkis said. “If you have the money, put it into the bathroom and kitchen.”

Touches such as contemporary style, granite counters and clean lines predominate, along with low maintenance landscaping, attract today’s buyers. Sarkis recommends ramping up curb appeal by power washing the decks, mulching the landscaping, trimming trees and bushes and sprucing up the flowerbeds.

Make sure the pricey essentials are up to date: roof, furnace, hot water heater, foundation and wet basement. Save any receipts to prove what you have had done.

“When staging the house, less is more,” Sarkis added. “No tchotchkes. You want people to focus on the dimensions and lines, not your artwork and furniture. You can have artwork, but have one picture on the wall, not seven. Declutter the mantle and display just one piece of art. Family pictures are a deterrent; remove them. The fridge should be clean and organized and people open it up, and the cabinets. It gives an idea of how people care for their house.”

He tells clients to rent a storage unit for their extra things.

Homes should also receive a deep cleaning, especially to eliminate odors such as mustiness in the basement and pet odors in carpets. Most people do not think their homes smell, but outsiders will.

“Ask a friend or real estate agent to come through the house and see if they can sense odors,” Sarkis said.

Michael Fallen, agent with Norchar Real Estate in Rochester, said that typically homes sell for more than the asking price within two weeks of listing.

“The ‘days on market’ is now at record lows, but that’s a little distorted because we’re doing delayed negotiations,” Fallen said. “There’s low inventory, so it is a sellers’ market. In the summer, a lot of people will be looking even with the rates going up.”

This means that the sellers list the home with a timeframe for showings, look at all the offers at once and then decide which offer they accept. This strategy can help sellers efficiently accept the best offer possible.

To get the most for a home, Fallen recommends using a real estate office that can offer 3D photography that can create a virtual tour. Buyers can view it online in greater detail and even measure areas to see if their furniture will fit. High-end or waterfront property may warrant drone videography or photography.

“We also work with a home stager to make sure the house is presentable,” Fallen said. “A lot of people want an outside area, like a patio or deck to sit and relax.”

Installing a small area of patio paver blocks and a firepit is not costly but a significant backyard upgrade compared with the expense of a pool. Some buyers do not want a pool because of its upkeep, so it is not worth installing one. Sellers with a pool should make sure it is in tip-top shape.

Think about compiling a photo album showcasing your home’s landscaping through the seasons. Seeing the spring tulips, daffodils, forsythia and crocus may woo a gardening buyer, for example.

“It lets people see what the property will look like,” Fallen said.

While these extra touches are not necessary, receiving an extra $10,000 to $20,000 for your efforts can help you settle into your new home.