Ah, summer. We dream of it: vacations, beach outings, pool time, lazy days and relaxing in the AC when the temp is sizzling outside.
But what’s not “chilling” is the hot real estate market during the busy summer selling season.
According to the Real Estate Information Network, our local multiple listing service, “June 2018 recorded a 16.24 percent increase, with 2,956 homes going under contract vs. 2,543 in June 2017.” Additionally, Hampton Roads’ residential median sales price rose 4.35 percent, from $230,000 to $240,000, year to year from May 2017 to May 2018.
With today’s market in mind, sellers can find inspiration in the “dog days of summer” to make their homes appealing to potential buyers. Likewise, buyers should consider the home features that will best suit their lifestyle, making the house a haven come summer … or fall, winter or spring!
Now is the time for sellers to highlight in-demand, warm-weather amenities, e.g. outdoors spaces like porches and decks, in-ground pools, arbors and pergolas. Run outdoor overhead fans on high, and stage the porch, patio or deck with a welcoming pitcher of lemonade and glasses to entice potential buyers to “sit a spell.” Make sure outdoor furniture cushions and pillows are clean, and brighten the spaces with perky, heat-resistant flowers. Dog bowls and beds, too, can help invoke an inviting space outdoors.
Indoors, sellers should crank up the air conditioning so potential buyers will not want to leave. August brings buyers in one of the hottest months of the year, so sellers will want to keep them there – and comfortable – for as long as possible to explore the house’s offerings.
Speaking of the “dog days,” I ask new clients many questions about what they hope to see during a home search. Interestingly enough, even more than “bedrooms and bathrooms,” the response I ironically get is, “living spaces for my dogs.” Likewise, sometimes sellers will elect to feature their dogs in a home’s listing photos. During one recent sale, the buyers said, “We can imagine our dogs frolicking in the nice, large backyard under the trees, reminding us of our home in Oregon.”
While potential buyers are lingering in a home’s appealing outdoor spaces and air-conditioned indoors, they should take a moment to ponder an important lifestyle question: “What is it that I like to do while at home?”
Why? Because life balance in home and community starts with knowing how you want to spend your free time. For example, a passionate cook might want a huge kitchen (whereas a small, galley kitchen would bring frustration), or someone into fitness might want an in-home gym in the garage or a spare room.
While touring a listing, potential buyers should also take a minute to carefully consider the home’s structure and layout to determine whether the space matches their lifestyle.
Here’s an example of why this is important. Once I was showing a three-story house to a woman and her greyhound. I ended up being a “dog whisperer” of sorts as I carried the dog down, step by step, because the dog was ill-equipped for staircases. Good to know before signing the papers.
And, of course, potential buyers should consider location. Home is more than just a place to rest your head. If you are drawn to the country, head there with your Realtor, or even consider city living that “feels” like country – perhaps a home set well off the road on a large, tree-filled lot.
If you, as a buyer, desire restaurants and culture to be close enough without requiring a car, make sure your Realtor knows this. If you hate gridlock, specify that you want a short commute. If you enjoy hiking and biking, tell your agent; a home near a state park might be your ideal location.
Remember, location can impact virtually everything about one’s lifestyle. As a buyer, consider whether your potential home’s location is well-suited to everything you enjoy. Your priorities are how you want to live your life – both inside and outside your home and within the community – and will help determine that location.
Now is the time to seize the “dog days of real estate” to achieve homeowner bliss – or to sell that home before moving on to the next lifestyle adventure.
– Cindy Caskey, CRS, ABR, SRES, SFR, MRP, e-PRO, is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty in Virginia Beach and a member of the Hampton Roads Realtors Association. Realtors are real estate agents who adhere to a strict code of ethics and work to protect and preserve private property rights. All Realtors are real estate agents, but not all agents are Realtors; go to www.isyouragentone.com to learn more. For more on HRRA, visit www.hrra.com. Contact Caskey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-642-1001.