Deeded Interest: Spring sweat
Spring has sprung here in the mountains (at least by virtue of the calendar) even as I look out my office window to flurries. Nonetheless, the new season beckons change and preparation. Time to put away the skis and winter toys and bring out the bikes and camping gear. For some, getting the house ready in time for summer also is something to get excited about. For others, spring cleaning, honey-dos and yard work just stand in the way of all the fun we enjoy here in Colorado. But those who do take the time to evaluate the condition of their property (likely their greatest single investment) and make a few repairs and improvements, significant reward awaits. And for those intent on selling this summer, getting down and dirty is essential.
Granted, spending your hard earned money on something other than a week on the beach isn’t easy, but take it from me, the longer you wait to replace that roof or paint the house, the more you’re likely to shell out in the end. Unfortunately, most homes do not come with a scheduled maintenance plan, but all responsible owners should have an idea of what needs to be done and when. The goal should be to protect your investment and invest in your enjoyment. Making the changes you envision will make the home more enjoyable. And when the time comes to sell your home, the work you do along the way will pay dividends from the curb to the kitchen. If you’ve let things go, you’ll either have to scramble to get them done before you list or pay for your procrastination when forced to accept a lower number. Studies show and statistics prove homes that are landscaped and manicured outside, and clean, functional and attractive inside bring in more money than those that aren’t. Captain obvious.
As I type, I am keenly aware and a bit stressed about the tasks that need completing at my own home and, yes, how much time and money they will take to complete. Some projects can wait but in the end, we all know what needs to be done. Tackle the big ticket items first but overall try keeping it simple. Tidy up. Get rid of the clutter. If you don’t have healthy plants and flowers in the yard, start digging. If the carpet needs a scrub and the windows need a shine, get going. Think in terms of what buyers like to see and what might have a tendency to turn them off. And if you’re not sure what to do, consult your broker who likely has an opinion or suggestions. If you’ve got older decor or are selling a vacant home, strongly consider staging. It’s extremely effective and cheaper than you think. Offering a seller’s credit also is an option.
Another issue critical to your return on investment is timing. Here in our valley, our market tends to be cyclical. There are typically more showings in the winter and summer as more tourists are here playing around and dreaming of the mountain lifestyle. More recently this trend has been challenged a bit by savvy buyers of the opinion offers in the offseason might coerce panicked sellers to accept a lower price. That strategy proves true for the fatigued or faint of heart but here in this valley, unfortunately, very few need to or are in a hurry to sell. And even though sales activity can occur in the fall or spring, there’s no doubt that “showtime” is always the high season when either the snow glistens on the rooftop or Columbines are coming up in the yard. Yet another reason for sellers to get out there and work up a sweat.
For buyers, either in the area or shopping online, now is a good time to go touring or tune in to your feed. Spring is when the majority of new listings debut, trotted out to the masses in time for summer. Later this month, the Aspen Board of Realtors will host its Spring Tour, which highlights active offerings from Basalt to Carbondale, including Old Snowmass, Ruedi and Redstone. The idea is to give brokers a one-time opportunity to view all available inventory in one fell swoop. By the way, there’s also a Fall Tour for Aspen, Snowmass Village and Woody Creek. But many potential buyers may not realize they, too, can participate so long as they are accompanied and represented by a local broker. It’s a great opportunity for the general public and one that’s not generally taken advantage of.
Whether you’re shopping or selling this spring, you’d be wise to remember a saying popular among brokers, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still going to look like a pig.” Sure, there are tricks and shortcuts to making sure your home is ready for primetime, but savvy and discerning buyers will always see through poor patchwork and make-shift repairs. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself, just make sure it’s done right. The goal is to make a strong first impression, get ahead of the competition and set yourself apart. Think of what you’d want to see and, more importantly, what you wouldn’t. If you can manage to create that, you’ll see the result in your bank account and be well on your way to your next opportunity.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a real estate agent with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Real Estate with more than a decade of experience with buyers and sellers. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.