Autumn leaves on trees in front of house

Many consider spring to be the time of year when your home's exterior will look best, but sellers can also take advantage of warm fall colors. (Getty Images)

As many people return to a sense of normalcy following the summer months, their real estate needs once again become a priority. Both buyers and sellers need to adjust their plans for tackling the real estate market to make success in purchasing or selling more likely.

Here's what you need to know to make the most of an advantageous fall real estate market.

[Read: Is a New Condo Your Best Bet to Become a Homeowner Now?]

Time Frame

Compared to the spring market, which is considered to typically last from March through June, the fall real estate market’s prime time is just September and October. The beginning of a noticeable increase in activity will typically correlate to the start of schools, which varies depending on local school calendars.

Sellers: Take into account the shortened window of time when pricing your house. While selling quickly is always preferable, especially if you can do so for top dollar, it will be even more important now.

The same goes for price decreases should you need to implement them – rather than waiting a month or two, you will want to consider dropping the price quickly depending on activity level and overall interest.

Buyers: Depending on your specific time frame, you may need to be prepared to pull the trigger quickly on making an offer, as the largest influx of homes will be in a shorter period of time. To ensure you can make this decision comfortably, spend extra time researching neighborhoods, comparable sales and all potential properties to educate yourself on the overall market.

Less Competition

Sellers: Comparable sales determine market value. That said, pricing your house is also directly affected by other properties on the market. The potential for multiple offers, bidding wars and inflated house values makes spring alluring, but more houses in direct competition can necessitate pricing your house lower to attract plenty of prospective buyers.

Buyers: While sellers love the idea of multiple offers driving the price up, this is a situation you’ll want to avoid if possible. You may feel some pressure knowing the abundance of listings will not last several months, but let the fact that there are fewer buyers to compete with act as a measure of consolation.

Interest Rates

Sellers: Following Donald Trump’s election to the presidency at the end of last year, 2017 saw mortgage interest rates rise into the low- to mid-fours, but they have continually dropped over the past few months back to around 3.88 percent. While purchasers may not feel the pressure created from rising interest rates, they will have increased buying power offering sellers a larger pool of prospects.

Buyers: Interest rates this autumn are phenomenal. One of the reasons the spring 2017 market heated up earlier and lasted longer was the pressure buyers felt from quickly increasing interest rates. Rather than waiting to react when they begin to creep up again, recognize these are historically incredible rates which shouldn’t be passed up.

[Read: How to Identify the Right Buyer for Your Home.]

Curb Appeal

Sellers: One of the many reasons spring is revered as prime time for selling real estate is how beautiful and vibrant a house appears when the grass is at its greenest, flowers are in bloom and foliage is abundant. That said, fall has just as much, if not more charm and color.

Research creative decoration ideas on sites such as Pinterest and Houzz to implement throughout your house. You can also use pumpkin spice candles and fragrances to give a hint of fall scents as prospective buyers tour your home.

In the days leading up to the listing pictures, refresh mulch and replace dying annuals with season-specific plants like chrysanthemums so your yard retains that pop of color.

If you're leaning toward listing your house in the later stages of fall, consider having your photographer take exterior shots now while there is still plenty of color. Once the interior is show-worthy you can finish up with the rest of the photos then.

Listing Period

Sellers: Depending on your motivation and location, you may use the fall months as a testing period to see if you can get what you want, or need, by listing for a while and then taking it off until spring if necessary.

Be sure to check with your real estate agent to find out how long your house needs to be off the market for the days on market (DOM) to reset in the multiple listing service, or MLS, which is where agents market the properties they represent. For example, many areas require a house to be withdrawn for 6 months to reset the DOM.

Should you list your house September through October, you would need to wait until May to relist, otherwise your house would show up starting at day 61.

[See: 8 Potential Headaches to Be Aware of Before Becoming a Homeowner.]

Desperation

Buyers: The beginning of the fall market is an excellent time for you to scope out houses listed in the stagnant summer months which have been sitting for a while and may have sellers reaching a higher level of desperation.

These houses may leave you asking why it's still there and what's wrong with it. Instead, recognize the prospective buyer pool may have been much lower given the time of the year and you may be able to find a diamond in the rough for a discounted price.

Tags: real estate, housing market, housing, home prices, new home sales, existing home sales, pending home sales


Ray Boss Jr. is a full-time, licensed Realtor for Re/Max Realty Group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with over 11 years of experience working with clients ranging from first-time homebuyers to investors, sellers and renters. You can learn more about Ray by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

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