Spring is typically the busiest season for real estate. The blooming flowers, lack of snow, and the desire to be settled into a new home before the school year begins and the cold weather hits again motivates both buyers and sellers. But if you had been planning to buy or sell (or both!) a home in 2020, you're likely wondering how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting things. The good news is – you CAN still buy or sell right now. Things are just operating a little differently than usual.
To get tips from a true expert, we spoke with Jacqueline Hillgrube from Coldwell Banker Hearthside, Realtors. Jacqueline has been our Bucks Happening List Winner for Real Estate Agent for the past 3 years in a row.
Happenings Media (HM): What are the top things homeowners could be doing right now to prepare to sell? Repairs, decluttering, gardening … what else?
Jacqueline Hillgrube (JH): Start with the outside – curb appeal sets the tone. Then go inside. Check for peeling paint, stains on drywall, loose trims, anything peeling. A can of paint goes a long way. It is the biggest bang for your buck. Remove any deep color palettes especially in the front of the home (living, dining and foyer). Go a shade of white.
Move to the heart of the home. If repainting is not in your budget and it is deep in tones, find some white pillows and throws to diffuse. Remove additional accessories in your home, stick to no more than 2 items on your tables (3 if it is a collection). Review your lamps, you would be surprised if you put a modern light next to an older sofa. I have done several FaceTime walk thrus and was able to help the clients get ready to sell.
Remember your buyers will open the closets and drawers. Take a room, a closet, your storage area … and clean and organize. Set a goal and go after it.
HM: If homeowners want to use this time to possibly fix up an area of their house, what do you usually find to be the most cost efficient in terms of grabbing the attention of potential buyers? (Kitchen, bathroom, new appliances, etc?)
JH: Paint your home neutral, homogenize your flooring, update your appliances to stainless steel. In terms of dollar return, this is the best bang for your buck. Especially since all Americans are feeling the effects of restricted incomes.
Photos from Jacqueline's current listing in Lower Makefield.
HM: How are the stay-at-home orders affecting house showings? What can homeowners do to help get the word out that they're selling?
JH: Agents are NOT showing homes. However, a seller can engage in a FaceTime walk thru with a buyer. In addition, Virtual Tours of the home can feel like you are actually walking the home. It is extremely important to pay attention to the quality of pictures, the quality of your virtual tours, your mattaports that allow for a buyer to tour the home from their home, and the public remarks that engage the buyers.
HM: Is it better to wait until this is all over to put your house up for sale? Or do you find that people are still looking to buy right now?
JH: I would not wait at this time. Now is the time that Buyers are sitting home glued to their computers. If you can get quality pictures of the home, get it out on the Broker platform. Our iPhones, iPads etc. are amazing. And by all means, let the buyers know there is more to come, with a FaceTime private tour and chat with the sellers.
HM: How about for people looking to buy right now? What tips do you have for them?
JH: Be patient, scour the feeds that you are on. Make sure you're asking your agent to be speaking to their colleagues on what is coming up, what are they not putting on the broker feeds and social media due to lack of pictures? Ask if you can drive by…. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!
HM: How are you handling the stay-at-home orders? How are you available to clients, and what services are you offering during this time?
JH: I am driving the neighborhood, I am mailing marketing pieces in my farming areas, but especially where my clients have interest. I am calling and emailing my colleagues on up and coming properties. And what are they doing? Speaking with our amazing officer on zoom weekly. My phone is always on, calls to listing agents are constant, my social media platforms are fully engaging but not just on real estate, but DAILY LIFE AS a REALTOR who is sheltering in place but working constantly for her clients. I am working harder now than when Covid was not here…. If we can remember back then?
I have taken 2 listings and sold 2 homes in the last 2 months.