If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, get to know it. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.
Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage. Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.
Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads. If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the system's pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.
Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
Shut off the automatic controller.
Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.
Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.
Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts. Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions.
If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage; it may be time for a roofing replacement.
If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground. Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.
A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar -- called a boot -- that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.
Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks. Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.
Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.
An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.
Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.
Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees -- when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.
To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.
Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500. Your fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.
Who could have imagined that a global pandemic would be a catalyst for one of the most dramatic upswings the real estate industry has seen in recent years.
As homes became our office spaces, classrooms, and mask-free sanctuaries, many Americans realized they needed a new setup. This hyper-focus paired with record-low mortgage rates inspired many buyers to step into the market — far exceeding the available inventory of homes.
Still, even with skyrocketing demand, homeowners selling in a seller’s market should do their due diligence to ensure they’re selling their home for the best price possible. We’ll share seven tips to make the most of today’s hot seller’s market.
High buyer demand and low housing inventory create a seller’s market. As mentioned above, several factors have inspired the current housing sales boom:
Record-low mortgage rates
A pandemic-driven desire for more living and outdoor space
Inadequate inventory, partially due to the lack of building materials and labor slowing down new construction
A seller’s market often means bidding wars, higher prices, and faster sales for homeowners. And while this is all good news for sellers, you’ll still need to be strategic if you want to sell your home for the most money possible.
1. Cut your budget for cosmetic upgrades like staging and renovations
In seller’s markets, we encounter many clients who overinvest in getting their home “market-ready.” With fewer properties to choose from, eager buyers are more willing to overlook outdated interiors and cosmetic issues than they would in a buyer’s market where beautiful homes are a dime a dozen.
Don’t spend the money! If you insist on making any updates, go for carpet and paint because they are the cheapest repairs you can do to yield the most value for the price. If you put in a brand new kitchen, for example, you’re not going to increase your sales price by $10,000 because you renovated it.”
Here are some quick and easy ways to make your home more inviting without spending a lot of cash:
Paint the main living areas a neutral gray or beige.
Set a few pots of colorful flowers near the front door.
Store loose items in decorative bins.
Hide electrical cords and wires out of sight.
Put photographs, mementos, and other personal items away.
In a seller’s market, homeowners are often pleasantly surprised to find their property sells much quicker than anticipated. When making plans to list your home, prepare for your next move at the same time. Pre-pack whatever you’re taking to your next home, and donate, sell, or toss whatever you don’t want. Clearing out the clutter will open up your room and make your home appear more spacious too!
You should also begin searching for your next home as soon as you’re ready to sell. If you haven’t started looking for your next home, have a backup plan in place in case your home sells quickly.
You may consider renting for a bit so you can take your time finding the right property. You can also negotiate a seller rent-back so you can remain in your home as a renter after you sell it.
Even in a seller’s market where bidding wars are common, you need a nuanced pricing strategy to ensure you sell your home for the most money possible.
While it’s tempting to reach for the stars with a high listing price, note that overpricing your home could turn off informed buyers and leave your home sitting on the market. And even if a buyer agrees to a sky-high price, they may not be able to close if the appraisal comes in low since lenders won’t typically approve a loan larger than a property’s appraised value.
On the flip side, if you price your home too low, you might not sell your house for as much as you could given the hot market.
The goal is to find the sweet spot: a price that reflects a home’s fair market value based on the size, floor plan, and condition. Your real estate agent will round up recently sold comparable homes, or “comps,” in Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) to determine how much your home is worth in the current market.
Listing a home at around $10,000 to $15,000 below fair market value is a common strategy in a seller’s market to create a bidding war. It’s a good way to generate lots of offers and get a fast sale at or over the listed price.
Buyers sense they are getting a good deal and are willing to put their hat in the ring, especially in a competitive seller’s market where there are fewer options to choose from. Just don’t go any lower than a price you would be willing to accept if you hypothetically only received one offer.
Bidding wars are common in a seller’s market. With fewer options to choose from, buyers flock to desirable properties that check most of their boxes. As a seller, you’ll need to evaluate your offers and respond carefully to leverage the best deal possible.
Three ways to handle a multiple offer situation:
Accept the best offer. This works when an offer is head and shoulders above the rest. For example, say you receive a cash offer that’s significantly higher than the other offers which the buyers require financing. Not only is this buyer’s offer higher, but it’s also more likely to close smoothly without a lender involved.
Inform buyers of the competition and encourage stronger offers. Typically, real estate agents won’t disclose the offer amounts to competing buyers. Instead, they’ll inform all buyers that other offers are on the table and encourage them to submit their highest and best offer before a set deadline. Some buyers may include an escalation clause in their second offer, indicating that they’ll automatically increase their price above the best competing offer. Escalation clauses tend to stipulate the increments by which the price increases and how high the buyer is willing to go.
Respond to one offer with a counteroffer, and set the others aside until the buyer responds. A seller may opt for this strategy if they receive an outstanding offer but aren’t yet ready to turn away other offers. For instance, maybe you get an offer with an excellent price, but the proposed moving date doesn’t align with your plans. You’d want to counter to see if the buyer can accommodate before committing to the deal.
Thankfully, you don’t have to determine the best response on your own — your real estate agent will be by your side to help.
Most sellers gravitate towards the highest offer. But we caution our clients that the highest offer is not always the best offer. Here are the main components of a strong offer in a seller’s market:
Even if a cash offer is not the highest, it can still be the best for a few reasons. When a buyer pays in cash, they don’t need to prove the home’s value to a lender, taking the appraisal out of the equation. Skipping this step is beneficial in a hot seller’s market where prices are rising faster than appraisers are willing to recognize — you don’t need to worry about a low-appraisal threatening the deal.
A cash offer also tends to speed up the sale. It takes an average of 46 days to close on a home loan. If you sell to a cash buyer, you can expedite your closing date by a month or more.
In Canada, the minimum down payment is 5% for properties up to $500,000, but some lenders may require more. As a seller, note that the higher the buyer’s down payment, the better. A buyer with a large down payment has to borrow less, reducing the risk they won’t qualify for their loan.
In real estate, a contingency is a requirement outlined in the purchase agreement that must be met for the sale to close. If the buyer’s contingency is not satisfied, they can walk away from the deal with their earnest money. As a seller, you want an offer with few contingencies since these slow down the sale and act as “escape hatches” for buyers to back out.
The most common contingencies include:
Appraisal contingency: The home must appraise for an equal or higher value than the buyer’s offer for the sale to close.
Financing contingency: The buyer can back out of the deal if they are unable to secure financing.
Home sale contingency: The buyer only moves forward with purchasing the property if their own home sells.
Inspection contingency: The buyer requires a home inspection and may cancel the sale if the seller does not agree to complete or pay for necessary repairs.
An offer with fewer contingencies is less likely to fall through, making it more appealing. In a seller’s market, buyers are often more likely to remove contingencies, especially if they know they’re up against competing offers.
In a seller’s market, buyers may throw in concessions, or incentives, to encourage the seller to choose their offer. For example, the buyer may offer to cover closing costs that the seller would customarily pay.
In a seller’s market, sellers may sell their current home faster than they’re able to buy their next one. That’s when a flexible moving date or rent back comes in handy. Buyers willing to budge on this point and give the seller some breathing room to house hunt may just push their offer to the front of the line.
Issues with home appraisals can be common challenges that come with selling in a seller’s market. Pricing a home on the higher end of market comps is all well and good, but the home must appraise for equal or less value than the buyer’s offer in order for the buyer’s lender to approve the loan.
“What we’re noticing right now are agents and homeowners trying to push the envelope on value. The inventory is so low, and the demand so high driving prices up. But of course, lenders and appraisers are like, let’s pump the breaks — this seems too high for the area.”
When a property appraises below the asking price, there are a few options to address the gap between the appraised value and the sales price:
The buyer pays the additional funds out of pocket. A seller may offer to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs to free up some of the buyer’s cash to cover the difference.
The seller reduces the sale price to match the appraised value.
The seller and buyer cancel the sale and the seller puts the property back on the market.
The seller and buyer challenge the appraisal with a Reconsideration of Value.
Your agent can advise on what the best strategy is for your home sale:
“As a real estate agent, my job is to educate the seller as to when it’s smart to just put it back on the market or say, hey, this is the best appraisal we’re going to get, so let’s reduce, take it, and move forward.”
Choosing the right real estate agent is by far the most important decision you’ll make when selling in a seller’s market. While any agent can assist you sell your home, only a top agent can win you the best price possible.
They are going to fight for your property value. They know how to address the appraisers to get that value where it needs to be to achieve a good closing. We advise sellers to work with an agent who specializes in listings. With more than 20 years in the business, and more than 34 million dollars in closings last year, Island Homes Group knows from experience.
Low inventory and high buyer demand make seller’s market conditions the ideal time to sell. With a bit of preparation for a quick sale, expert agent guidance, and patience to explore multiple offers, sellers can get the best deal possible for their property.