By Drew Heasley
The spring market is traditionally the hottest real estate market across the country. For my area in Pennsylvania, the busiest parts of the year are early spring and then again when school lets out. As an agent, you need make sure you and your clients are prepared for these annual peaks.
Your sellers will be asking for a lot of advice to get their home ready to list. My best suggestion for sellers is to not rush to list. You only get one first impression, so tell your clients to take the time to paint that room, replace that carpet, mulch that bed, or de-clutter that basement. Curb appeal is an obvious must-have to get top dollar in the spring. If you have a good eye, you can make these suggestions on your own. If not, the internet is full of ideas, expert landscapers, tips, and before-and-after pictures you can find with a quick search.
Pricing in the spring is also very important. If you overprice, the home may sit and you may have lost out on your best buyers. Clients are always afraid to under price the home, but in a strong real estate market, this can be a great play by creating multiple bidders. Use your local expertise and do your research. Some clients think listing in the spring is an automatic sale. While we may have the largest supply of buyers in the spring, we also have the most competition from other listings. It’s important for clients to understand upgrades that add value and upgrades that help your home sell fast. For example, a finished basement with a wet bar and walkout patio adds value. Hardwood floors, fresh paint, and granite countertops help a home sell fast. If your seller can only focus limited resources on a few areas, this is where your local knowledge will come into play. For my area, the best seller return is on kitchens and baths. Do your research, set your clients expectations realistically, and you will have their home sold in no time.
For your buyers, the best thing you can do is educate them on the local and seasonal market, and make sure you have everything prepared ahead of time. Pre-approvals and conversations with the lenders must be taken care of ahead of time. Financial information forms should be prepped, and consumer notices and other required forms signed and ready. You know you buyers’ price range, so you can run some closing costs estimates when you start your search. Have them looking at sellers disclosures for other properties they are touring so they recognize them. Go over the agreement of sale before you find a property they like. Most of this can be done with a buyer consultation and referring them to a lender you trust. They will have lots of competition so you need to have them prepared, you will have no time to deal with these things when that perfect listing comes up.
Little things will matter when making an offer, like having a larger down payment, having fewer contingencies, and being flexible on settlement date. Find out as much as you can about the sellers. In some cases, buyers have “won” a home because they wrote a personal letter to the seller saying why they loved the house or how they could see starting a family there.
Lastly, please use an escalation clause in multiple offer situations. This is another blog for another time, but if the agent calls for “best and final,” and you don’t send an escalation clause, you are not doing your clients any favors.
As an agent, you have a lot to do to get ready for the spring market. Get your systems in place — some of us rely on systems more than others, but everyone has some things they can do to prepare for what is hopefully the busy season. I like to get my signs in order, prep open house packets, update marketing, restock office supplies, update wardrobe, clean out the car, etc. But the most important thing to do to prepare as an agent for the spring market is to get business. This is a great time to find new clients and help clients who didn’t accomplish their real estate goals the year before. I like to focus on listings in the spring, they sell fast and for top dollar. Also, listings turn into buyer clients via sellers buying another home, open house leads, sign call leads, etc. There are plenty of buyers and lots of sellers out there, so go get ’em!
Drew Heasley is an agent with Keller Williams Exton/West Chester in Pennsylvania. Connect with him on Facebook: facebook.com/chestercountyrealtor, or through his website: searchchestercountyhomes.com.