“It’s a bit of a mad rush,” said Chris French, an architect, about his efforts to get a head start on the spring market.
There are plenty of good reasons spring is the traditional start of the real estate season: Sellers’ yards look more photogenic. Buyers are more apt to take a fall-in-love-with-the-neighborhood walk in warmer weather. And a summer move is preferable for families with school-age children.
It may be weeks or months until most spring listings go up, but local real estate experts say now is the right time to get ready. The to-do list is long, from researching agents to painting and planting.
“There are so many things, sometimes you kind of freeze,” says Jennifer Nangle, a Bethesda-based agent with Re/Max Realty Services, the Nangle Group. “It can seem daunting, but so much of it is tidying.”
To help you manage all the tasks, we’ve consulted with local real estate brokers, mortgage lenders, contractors and other experts about the most-essential preparations.
Choose agents, contractors and other professionals carefully.
Many agents have preferred professionals they deal with, including mortgage companies, home inspectors, photographers, stagers, professional cleaners and contractors.
“We can save people a lot of headaches,” says Rachel Valentino, a Bethesda/Chevy-Chase-based agent with Keller Williams.
Some real estate teams offer packages of services, which might include professional photographers and designers or discounts on movers and home warranties.
Although buyers generally get home inspections, some sellers also arrange for a pre-listing inspection. (Nangle and some other agents recommend it.)
“They don’t want any surprises,” says Joseph C. Walker, a home inspector and president of Claxton Walker & Associates, based in Annapolis.
In addition to giving sellers important information — how many years left before a roof needs to be replaced, for example — an inspection provides a thorough to-do list.
“That way there aren’t a lot of things that could clog up the sale,” Walker says. “The seller isn’t trying to make repairs at a panic pace.”
Here are some other tips for sellers:
Gather paperwork and do the math. Now is the time to crunch numbers. What are the comparable sales? What do you owe on the mortgage? How would making various repairs improve your bottom line?
If you don’t decide to make a particular upgrade — replacing a worn floor, for example — Nangle recommends getting estimates for the work.
“I think it’s a good idea to get photos or illustrations of how it would look, and show the numbers,” she says. “It gives [potential buyers] an idea of what can be done.”