Fall is one of the best times to sell your home, thanks to less competition and ease in home decorating.
Just like pumpkin spice lattes, changing leaves and shorter days, a slowdown in the housing market is a signal fall is upon us.
Pending home sales slumped in August, down 7.1% from July, with all four regions of the U.S. posting month-over-month and year-over-year declines in transactions, according to the National Association of Realtors. Year over year, pending transactions fell by 18.7%.
Several factors, including shifts in inflation, the job market and uncertainty around the Federal Reserve’s next move, are contributing to the highest mortgage rates in a generation. Unsurprisingly, this is weakening homebuyers' appetites.
With summer vacations over and kids back in school, autumn can be a challenging time to secure a new home. Many homeowners and homebuyers are preparing to hunker down for winter.
While home sales typically drop in the fall, that doesn't mean you should wait until spring to list your property. Fall can be a fantastic time to sell your home for these three reasons.
1. Last Hooray Before Winter
Winter in the colder northern regions across the country is the slowest time for homebuying and selling. Who wants to pack up their home and move in feet of snow or near-freezing temperatures? Fall's milder temperatures make it an ideal time to get settled into a new property. It's also a unique window to capture last-minute buyers who are still house hunting.
"Fall tends to be the last bit of significant activity for the Denver metro market before winter," says Amber Edouard, a real estate agent with West+Main Homes in Denver. "Some buyers decide to try again next year and other sellers think they’d rather wait for the spring market, leaving an opportunity for those who remain diligent."
It's true there are generally fewer people searching for homes in autumn, but there are also fewer homes for sale. The key to capturing the remaining buyers out there is to make your home stand out.
"With any home sale, it's all about presentation and providing the buyer with value," Edouard says. "When listing a property, good staging and providing the potential buyers with a cozy vibe do go a long way as far as helping them feel comfortable in the space and envisioning themselves living there."
However, she says, buyers have become discerning.
"Since the current interest rates are significantly higher than the insanely low rates we saw during the pandemic, many buyers don’t have extra money for a fixer-upper and only want to enter the market for a property that is nearly turn-key," Edouard says. "Specifically for fall, the amount of homes for sale tends to drop a bit, providing better odds for the seller. If you price the property right or even slightly under market value, you have greater potential of getting list price or even multiple offers."
Not every market experiences the same slowdown in fall and winter. In the warmer southern states, like Florida, winter is more like the peak summer season.
Southern weather at this time of year isn't as hot, humid or rainy. It's a great time to get your property on the market when there is less inventory. More listings pop up in the winter, which gives buyers more options and room for negotiation. If you list before the peak season in fall, you can often get a better sales price for your home, especially if it's in good condition and staged well.
2. It's Easy to Make Your Home Feel Extra Cozy
One of the best reasons to sell your home in the fall is how easy it is to make your home feel warm and inviting.
Consider having a naturally scented candle or diffuser oil that gives off a light fall fragrance like freshly baked apple muffins or pumpkin cookies when showing your home. These common fall scents can set the mood and make your home feel extra cozy with fall's crisper cooler weather. However, it's important the scents are not overpowering. If it's too strong, it can actually put off homebuyers.
Charles Fischer, broker associate with the Fischer Group EXP Realty in Melbourne, Florida, advises potential sellers to start with a deep cleaning and decluttering, which he says is even more important now.
"Buyers are imagining how they will 'live' in your home," he says. "Try to reduce the personality 'footprint' from family photos and keepsakes that we all love but can create clutter and distract a buyer."
For example, instead of a family photo, hang a neutral landscape painting, cute botanical poster or quaint wall art quote. There are a lot of appealing decor swaps you can make for little to no cost. The key is to not have anything that draws attention away from the selling features of the home.
Choose subtle fall decorations like natural leaf garland around your fireplace mantle or staircase railing. Consider adding a few pumpkins, natural grasses like hay or other small fall landscaping additions to the exterior of the home. A fall door mat or wreath can set an inviting tone for a potential buyer entering your home for a showing.
"Fall decor is great," says Fisher, "but avoid excessive Halloween items like inflatable lawn decorations. I have found that some buyers are turned off by them."
To improve curb appeal, Fisher suggests that sellers "green up the lawn, plant fresh flowers and weed and mulch landscaping."
3. Low Inventory and High Demand Are on Your Side
Home sellers considering selling in fall 2023 have a unique advantage. In most markets, supply remains extremely low, with homebuying demand surpassing the available inventory. According to the U.S. News Housing Market Index, national housing supply is at 2.1 months, far below the average six months considered a balanced housing market. Homes are moving quickly in cities like San Jose, California, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. In San Jose, which Redfin identifies as the most competitive city in the U.S. for home sales, homes sell after an average of 11 days on the market, compared to 27 days last year. In Fayetteville, homes are selling after seven days on the market, on average, compared to eight days last year, according to Redfin. In hot markets, sellers are seeing multiple offers if the home is priced well and in good condition.
Mortgage rates are one of the biggest deterrents for buyers today. As of Oct. 5, the average 30-year-fixed mortgage rate was 7.68%, but the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts mortgage rates could be as low as 6% by the end of 2023 and 5% by mid-2024, which would heat the housing market up again. The Key to Selling Fast This Fall
To make the most of your home sale in the fall, approach the season realistically. Know what your market is doing right now and the challenges you may encounter if you list in the fall months.
Because the number of buyers actively looking in fall starts to taper off, it's important that sellers do not overprice their property, Edouard says, so they can attract as much interest as possible.
"When a property is overpriced and the number of days it sits on the MLS begins to accrue, its novelty and buzz also tend to go downward," says Edouard. "Although price improvements can help bring the interest back, it's always better to get it priced right the first time to get the most for the seller."
In Florida, Fischer says prices have remained relatively stable and buyer demand is high, at least in the central, east coast part of the state.
"It's important sellers are realistic with their pricing," he says. "Perform a presale appraisal and inspection and use that number to guide your pricing."
A qualified and experienced real estate agent can help you make the most of your home sale in the fall, but a lot of the prep work to make your home stand out comes from you. Declutter, do a deep clean and get your home show-ready with minimal and intentional fall decor. If you pair those efforts with a proper asking price, there's a good chance your home will sell quickly and for top dollar this fall season.
Source: U.S. News