Spring officially starts on March 20, and this winter has made many of us here in Lewes quite ready for some warmer weather. Let’s be honest – we are beach lovers here! Especially if you are trying to sell your home, or considering it, erratic weather can be a bit stressful. The good news is, just as you can enjoy a walk on Lewes Beach year round, there is truly no one ‘correct’ season of the year to sell your home. Further, our local inventory (the number of homes available for sale) in Lewes continues to be remarkably low right now everywhere – from Lewes Beach to in-town Lewes to Gills Neck Road neighborhoods. This news makes the market more competitive for buyers, and is generally good news for sellers.
As a point of reference, the “average days on market” for homes East of Route 1 in Lewes was 160 days in 2017 and shrunk to 81 days in 2018, according to data from the Bright Multiple Listing Service (which is the new MLS for all members of the Sussex County Association of REALTORS®).
So far in 2019, the local real estate market has seen some “March Madness.” Several homes have gone under contract within days of being listed; while others have stayed on the market a bit longer.
So, what is the secret to selling a home quickly and for the highest price possible?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Choose a REALTOR®
Contact a real estate professional (or a few!) for a listing presentation and consultation. Since selling your home is one of life’s largest milestones, both financially and emotionally, it is worthwhile to research your prospective real estate agent through online reviews and sales history, and make this listing presentation an interview to hire the best person or team for you.
Most local REALTORS® will bring you a competitive market analysis to give you information on what properties have sold recently in your area, and at what prices, as well as what your competition would be when you list your home. This information will help you arrive at the best price to sell your home in a reasonable amount of time in today’s real estate market.
Considerations like your home’s location, distance to the beach or access to the new bike trails, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, quality of your kitchen appliances, age of your roof and HVAC systems, and professional landscaping all factor into a home’s value.
2. Prepare your home for sale, inside and out
It is not always easy, but try to take an objective look at your home inside and out. Daffodils are popping up, but early spring still makes ‘curb appeal’ – that first impression of a home’s exterior – a little bit of a challenge.
Inside (in any season):
- Declutter! Getting rid of anything that is not useful day-to-day is a trend right now for a calming living environment. Fortunately, this trend is also a great way to prepare your home for sale! Several great local professionals and stagers are available in our area, which your real estate agent can refer to you, if you need help.
- Once you have made more open space in closets and reduced knick-knacks and clutter, freshen your paint, including baseboards and doorway trim, with a neutral paint color. We live at the beach! A coastal palette is popular with buyers.
- Replace switch plates, especially in high-traffic areas
- Make sure all light-switches and outlets work
- Clean carpets – or replace worn down carpets entirely
- After the snow (hopefully no more!) - tackle everyone’s favorite: windows!
- Clear up sticks in your yard
- Make sure paths to the front door are clear
- Clip back beach grass and shrubs – even leafless landscaping can look neat with a “fresh haircut”
- Rake over flower beds and put down fresh mulch
- Power wash mildew on siding, fencing, outside showers, etc.
- Replace mailbox and house numbers if yours are oxidized or dated
- Consider replacing exterior storm doors if they are dated
- Put a few potted plants at your entrance (tulips are back!)
- Make sure exterior lights are in good shape
3. Order a Home Inspection
Although it falls under the buyer’s responsibility once your home is under contract, getting a home inspection in advance as the seller will save you time, money, and unpleasant surprises in the long run. The cost varies and depends on the size of your home, but on average, a home inspection costs around $400 - $500 – money well-spent to avoid a delay after you have already accepted a contract for sale.
4. Spring into a New Home!
Warm weather, blooming landscaping, and lush lawns definitely enhance curb appeal, but you can get a jump on those early bird homebuyers this season by making your home stand out as fresh and neat. And if you are looking to relocate yourself, check to see if the sellers have taken some of these suggestions.
The real estate market is roaring into gear so far in 2019. Hopefully these tips will make your sale as gentle as a lamb!