All About ReDecorating

By Brendel Hightower
McClatchy Newspapers

Home sellers usually share this belief about fall: As the leaves come down, so should their For Sale signs.

But some real estate agents say removing a home from the market could be a mistake. “Buyers don’t have a month when they say they’re going to buy. They buy when they need to buy, and that need happens 12 months out of the year,” said Glen Silvenis of RE/Max Crossroads in Belleville, Mich.

Agents say fall often brings out the more serious shoppers who need to find a home right away. Additionally, there may be less competition because many sellers aren’t willing to stick it out through fall and winter.

And with slipping home values, sellers run the risk of fetching a lower price for their home if they take it off the market and relist in the spring. Agents say sellers should use fall as a time to regroup.

For starters, they should look at the price of their home…and whether it is competitive. “Take a good, hard, honest look at what’s on the market right now. You want your house to be the best value,” said Patricia Phillips of Real Estate One in Southfield, Mich.

Dana Johnson, an economist from Comerica Bank, agrees, noting that the economy will continue to be soft nationwide. “You have to price things realistically,” he said. “This continues to be a buyer’s market.”

Sellers should also use the off season to their advantage. Putting up fall decorations…. like a wreath on the door…and setting a few mums on the porch can bolster a home’s curb appeal, agents say.

Fall is also an ideal time to get rid of clutter and embark on home improvement projects neglected during spring and summer. Agents suggest sellers tear down old wallpaper, update the carpet, paint and do a thorough cleaning. In pricier homes, seller should consider higher-end upgrades like adding granite countertops, wood floors and ceramic tiles.

Hiring a stager…those who specialize in eliminating clutter, decorating and rearranging furniture….is also a good idea, said Karen Jolley of Buckley Jolley Real Estate in Brighton, Mich.

Julie Sirrine, 42, and her husband Dan, 43, are making the best of the season. They would have preferred to list their 2,300 square foot, four bedroom house in Howell, during the spring, but the family is moving to Minnesota because of a job transfer.

“We had to put our house on the market now. With this situation, we can’t wait,” Julie Sirrine said. The couple bought the house for $252,000. five years ago. It’s now listed for $244,900. The pair hired Kathi Presutti, owner of RE:Style in Brighton, to help with staging their home. In addition to removing clutter and reorganizing furniture, the company is helping the family add seasonal flowers, select new wall colors and improve lighting throughout the house.

“A stager is more important than in the past to rise to the top of competition,” Jolley said. “You might as well keep the house looking new, even while living in it.”

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