Appealing to Autumn Home Buyers

For years, seasons and school calendars have dictated real estate markets. Many buyers search hard in the spring and early summer so they can find a house and close before the school year starts in September.

As a result, many sellers have held off listing their homes near the holidays and in the winter, favoring the warm spring months to showcase their landscaping and outdoor spaces.

These cycles worked well for decades because families were the most common buyers. But many of today’s buyers are young millennials or empty nesters. School schedules and seasons don’t typically dictate their home purchase time frame. These buyers are active in the fall and even into the winter months, including the holidays.

If you have a home to sell, fall is a great time to list it, despite conventional wisdom. With less competition than in the spring, it may even turn out to be better financially. Here’s how to appeal to the two types of home shoppers that are particularly active in the fall.

Marketing to millennials

For millennials, the market is always on. As long as their smartphone or tablet is within reach, they are active buyers.

Fully connected and attached, millennials will look at listings and analyze data 24/7. Sellers must keep their home in tip-top shape and showing-ready at all times.

Don’t expect millennial buyers to wait around for an open house. Many prefer to see homes they like on their timeframe. Be ready to accommodate them.

Have great listing photos online the minute the home hits the market. Nothing is more frustrating to young buyers than to be notified via text or email about a property in an awesome location, only to find that the listing doesn’t include any photos.

Millennials are visual. Spend extra time on the photo shoot, and make sure your agent hires a professional photographer. Good photos get your buyers in the door. Give them what they want.

Attracting empty nesters

Empty nesters tend to be more old school than millennials. They can be slower and more methodical about a purchase. Don’t rush them.

Many older buyers are looking to downsize, which means they either need to sell their existing home before they buy, or they will need to take a loan against their current home to purchase. Juggling finances means they come to the table with an incredible amount of stress. Give them time to process decisions.

Empty nesters may not be as responsive as other buyers, and may not communicate quickly via text, or even check email during off hours. If possible, accommodate their response times. If they feel rushed or under the gun, no matter how hot your home or how competitive the market, they will walk away.

Don’t forget, someone with five or six decades of life experience comes to the table more informed. Having been through a couple of financial and housing crises, they may be more cautious as they approach retirement and life on a fixed income.

The best salesperson knows and understands his or her buyers. The same holds true for real estate sales. As a seller, prepare to meet a buyer that may be very different from you. Plan in advance to give them what they want. Once you have a buyer on board, learn as much as you can about who they are, and work with them. What works for some buyers may not work for others.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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