Looking to sell? What are you waiting for?

If you thought about selling your house this year, now may be the time to do it. The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist of realtor.com, in a recent article revealed that:

“Would-be buyers face a dilemma: There will be more homes on the market over each week of the next three to four months, but there will also be even more prospective buyers. We are entering the busiest season of home buying with the lowest amount of inventory in three years. To be competitive, buyers should get pre-approved for a mortgage and be ready to act quickly if they find a home that meets their needs.”

Smoke goes on to say:

“Listings are growing as they normally do this time of the year, but because demand has been growing faster than supply, homes are selling faster. So the monthly trend is the normal seasonal pattern, but the year-over-year decline is reflective of demand being stronger than supply for more than a year, which is resulting in fewer homes available and faster-moving inventory.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.


DIY Curb Appeal

The landscaping is a major part of a home’s curb appeal. Depending on where you live, landscaping can also be a crucial part of helping to control wildlife, and reducing energy costs by providing things like shade. There are many ways you can change your landscaping without breaking the bank too. The following five upgrades can all be done for less than $1,000.

1. Fertilizing the lawn

Fertilizing the lawn is a fast and low cost way to help improve the way your whole yard looks and feels. At the end of a long winter, fertilizer can help revive your grass, helping it green up faster, and providing a more lush surface. Some fertilizers can also kill weeds, which can further help improve your lawn’s appearance.

Cost: The average coast of fertilizing your lawnis $0.03 a square foot, assuming a 6,000 square foot lawn. The total range of costs is between $0.02 a square foot for a DIY job, to $0.04 a square foot during peak season.

Money-saving tips

  • Fertilize your lawn early in the season to take advantage of lower prices, and to maximize your lawn’s growth.
  • Water your lawn regularly early in the morning to help prevent it from drying out, which will help your fertilizing go further.

DIY Considerations

This job is entirely suitable for DIY. All you need is a spreader, and the ability to walk over the entire area of your lawn.

2. Tree Planting

Planting new trees on your property has a lot of advantages. Trees help prevent soil erosion, while also providing shade and cleaner air. The right trees can also help you improve your home’s curb appeal, and complement the rest of your landscaping at the same time.

Cost: The average cost of planting trees is $106 per small tree delivered and planted, with a minimum of five trees. The total costs range from $75 a tree for five small trees delivered off site and planted DIY to $2423 per large tree delivered and planted with a minimum of five trees.

Money-saving tips

  • Check with utility companies before planting to ensure the trees will not be in the way of power lines, as this could result in additional expenses to trim or remove the trees.
  • Check with your town or state to find out about programs which provide shade giving trees for free in sunny areas.

DIY Considerations

This job may be suitable for DIY, but assumes the ability to dig a hole large enough for each tree. Equipment such as mini-excavators can help make this job easier, but do increase price.

3. Stain Your Deck

The deck is a major part of your home’s curb appeal, as well as enjoyment of the property. Sun, wind, rain, hail, and snow can all pay a heavy toll on your deck’s appearance, however. Over time, old stain may fade, crack, or peel, exposing the wood below to the elements, which in turn can mean the rotting of the wood on your deck itself. Applying a new coat of stain can help maintain not only your deck’s good looks, but also its integrity.

Cost: The average cost of staining your deck is around $2 a square foot, including labor and equipment such as pressure washers and the stain itself.

Money-saving tips

Most older decks need to be power washed before staining; consider renting a power washer yourself to do the cleaning before having the deck professionally stained.

DIY Considerations

This job is entirely suitable for DIY; be sure to rent the proper equipment before hand, and to put on at least two coats of stain to ensure the job lasts.

4. Fountain Installation

Fountains add a lot of interest and tranquility to your yard and landscaping. The sound of running water is often enjoyable for many people using the space, while the look of a fountain can increase your curb appeal. There are many different types and styles of fountain available, which can increase your chances of finding one that fits your needs.

Cost: The cost of a fountain installation depends largely on the type of fountain you’re installing. The least expensive option is a standalone bird bath, which costs between $150 and $300. Another inexpensive option may include a wall fountain with costs ranging from $600 to $1,200.

Money-saving tips: 

  • Consider adding a fountain at the same time as other landscaping is being done to help lower the labor costs of the project as a whole.
  • Purchase a fountain kit that makes installation easier, lowering the overall costs.

DIY Considerations

Whether not your fountain can be installed DIY is largely dependent on the type you are having installed. Kits and things like bird baths are easier to install than fountains which must be crafted or poured on site.

5. Fence replacement

Fencing can not only enhance your landscaping and curb appeal, it can offer a lot of other benefits as well. Pet containment, privacy, and creating a safe place for children to play are all great reasons to consider installing a new fence or replacing your old one.

Cost: The average cost to install a new fence is $13.26 a linear foot for galvanized steel chain link fencing. Total costs range from $7.02 a foot for a DIY installation to $28 per foot for a redwood split rail fence.

Money-saving tips: 

  • If you’re replacing an old fence with a new one, consider doing the tear out of the old fence yourself. This can significantly lower the labor fees on the new installation.
  • Fencing prices are also largely dictated by the material that the fencing is made of. Choose the fencing that best meets your functional needs first, then consider looks to make sure you get the lowest cost fence for your yard.

DIY Considerations

Fence installation can be difficult for those that do not have the experience or necessary tools. Digging the holes for the fence posts can be difficult and time consuming, and in most cases it may be best to leave this job to professionals.

Don’t Sell Alone!

In today’s market, with homes selling quickly and prices rising, some homeowners might consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five of those reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 89% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 20% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Results Come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 44% on the internet
  • 33% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspaper

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $210,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $249,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $39,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.