Everyone knows that buying a house is so much more fun than selling one. A seller usually has to put time and money into making improvements to attract the right buyer (improvements the seller will not even get to enjoy), as well as worry about how long it will take to sell the house and how to get top dollar out of the sale.
With Mt. Lebanon’s real estate appreciating 10 percent last year—more than anywhere else in Allegheny County—most houses aren’t sitting on the market for long. And as many happy sellers will attest, a good real estate agent is often the key to helping prepare the house, price it, list it and show it, potentially resulting in a great offer and a timely sale.
We asked five local real estate professionals to talk about the Mt. Lebanon real estate market and share some tips that can help sellers get good prices for their homes.
Stage the inside of the house
► Paint rooms and remove wallpaper. A neutral color
palette is recommended.
► Update light fixtures, door knobs and other hardware.
► Organize and declutter (including the insides of cup boards and closets, because buyers will look there).
► Clean thoroughly; be sure your home has a fresh smell.
► Less is more. You want to create a minimalist environment that allows prospective buyers to visualize how their furnishings will fit in. Helpful tip: Get a storage unit and store half your belongings off-site, including personal items and photos.
► Hire a professional cleaning or organizing service.
Prepare the outside
► Paint the exterior if needed, and pay particular attention to the front door.
► Mulch flower beds and add flowers and other plants to improve landscaping.
► Hire a professional gardening service if necessary.
Sell your house
► Prepare your home for sale before listing it.
► Listen to your agent regarding price.
► Have a pre-inspection, so that you can address repairs beforehand.
How long, on average, would you say it takes a house to sell?
“Certain factors have a direct correlation to length of time on the market: price, condition, location and season. In the spring market in Mt. Lebanon (March to June), a correctly priced home will sell in less than 30 days in the ranges from $150,000 to $400,000. In the higher ranges, it may take 30-60 days.”
JoAnn Robb (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services)
What can you do if you are physically unable to prepare your house for selling?
“Moving can be a very difficult process, but is more challenging to someone who must move due to a life-changing event, or simply because they cannot manage their home any longer. In this situation, I recommend a service that includes organizers to deal with the contents of the house. They can ship some items to family members, take other items to the new smaller space home and sell or donate the rest.”
Maria Lane (Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services)
Do you really need a professional stager?
“Staging can be done by the Realtor if the home has been decorated well and only needs a few changes. If the house needs furnishings, then a professional stager can bring in furniture. I often use a stager to make changes in how the furniture is placed.”
Sandy Goldstein (Keller Williams Real Estate Professionals)
How important is the online listing?
“Good photos are of the utmost importance in today’s market. The majority of buyers search for a new home online. If by looking at the pictures, the house doesn’t appeal to them, they will delete it from their list.”
Mary Ketchum (Howard Hanna Real Estate)
When should you start talking to a realtor?
“It’s never too early to establish a relationship with a strong realtor, who can be invaluable in providing market insights, suggesting tips for preparing your home for sale and addressing any questions you have regarding the marketing and sales process. That way, when it comes time to launch your home on the market, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.”
Susanne Wagner (RE/MAX Premier Group)