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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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How to List Your Home When Nobody Ever Leaves

Amy Cherry Taylor and Associates works closely with clients to take the stress out of pandemic home sales

After a winter of virtual schooling, working from home and limited activities to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many families may be finding themselves ready to move up to a space that better fits their needs as spring approaches.

With interest rates on mortgages at historic lows, homeowners today have an opportunity to trade up to a larger space—potentially without seeing a significant increase in their monthly housing costs.

“There’s a lot of opportunity right now,” said Amy Cherry Taylor of AveryHess Realtors in Spotsylvania County. “If you are not planning to stay in your home for the next three to five years, you have to seriously consider what your options are right now.”

This seller’s market has brought many homeowners multiple offers, less hassle on home inspection reports and more room to negotiate closing dates than they typically have under normal market conditions.

But the conditions of this market and the lifestyle changes that have driven it also make it more important than ever to carefully plan your go-to-market and showing strategy. That’s something Taylor and her team at Amy Cherry Taylor and Associates take pride in doing.

“The planning is more important now than it has been in the past,” Taylor said. “And that’s something we really love doing with our clients. We put their concerns at ease and really go step-by-step so that they will know what to expect and have a plan to deal with it.”

Working around virtual school

The No. 1 concern for many families considering listing their homes right now is the fact that home has become a school, office, gym and entertainment spot 24/7 as outside activities have shut down in the pandemic.

Especially for families with school-age students of multiple ages, online learning sessions can span large parts of a weekday. With careful planning, Taylor said, having a home on the market doesn’t need to come with interruptions to online learning.

“One of the first things we do is take the family’s schedule and work around it,” she said. “We can block out online learning times that the family has to be home in our system so that the owners don’t have to worry about getting requests for showings during times when they just can’t get out.”

She also said that in a spring market, many homes sell quickly, meaning it may only take one weekend of showings to yield a winning offer. 

“Remember that buyers are in the same situation. They understand if the seller can’t show it because of work or school,” Taylor said. “It’s not perceived as being unaccommodating as it once was.”

Clear out for showings

Taylor works closely with her clients to ensure they know what to expect. When a home goes on the market, that could mean a chaotic first weekend with many showings.

It’s extra important in pandemic times for sellers to be out of their home for that time period to ensure buyers feel comfortable, safe and free to speak openly about how they feel about the property. Taylor and her team help clients with children strategize on the best way to stay out of the house without going crazy. 

She said some clients have taken the opportunity to find an Airbnb and take a mini-vacation, or visited relatives when it’s safe. Now that temperatures are warming, outdoor options such as spending the day hiking are becoming more attractive.

“You may have a really busy two to three days where you need to plan to go somewhere,” Taylor said. “It’s not as bad as in past markets, where you’d have showings over a period of months.”

Make it sparkle

Just because it’s a seller’s market doesn’t mean you can throw your house on the market without getting it camera-ready. And with families spending more time in the home, there’s likely to be more clutter lying about that could turn a buyer off.

This kind of staging doesn’t have to be difficult. The Amy Cherry Taylor and Associates team walks clients through the process of getting their home ready for photography and showings.

“We have a room-by-room checklist that clients get prior to going on the market,” Taylor said. “The biggest things to address are clutter, items on the floor, items on surfaces.”

That advice comes with personal assistance with staging.

“When they are going on the market, we give them the checklist, and then we go out right before the photo shoot and help them stage. If they are open to it, we will spend time with them getting the rooms the way they need to be,” she said.

One pro tip Taylor has developed over the years:

“Put a laundry basket on every level of your home. Keep your home to a point where you can run around and pick up the items that have collected in 10 to 15 minutes. Take your laundry baskets to one room that’s out of the way. This makes getting ready for a showing at short notice so much easier,” she said.

Sellers are also being counseled to leave all of the lights on and open all doors that a buyer might want to look into, to limit the need to touch surfaces. Buyers and sellers can rest assured that Realtors in this market are following strict Covid-19 procedures to ensure showing visits are conducted safely.

Outdoors is important

After a year of avoiding indoor gatherings, buyers are more interested than ever in outdoor entertaining spaces. Sellers can give themselves a leg up by putting a little TLC into these areas of the home.

“I have seen properties without decks and patios have a harder time selling,” Taylor said. “We are really paying more attention to staging the outdoor living areas than before.”

This means addressing cosmetic issues such as cracks in the patio, putting a new coat of stain on the deck or adding some furniture, rugs or cushions to your outdoor setup. 

“We help our clients with this all the time. They can even text us pictures of items they’re thinking of adding and we can help them pick things out,” Taylor said.

She emphasizes that her team at Amy Cherry Taylor and Associates understands what families are going through right now and work closely with clients to take the stress and anxiety out of the process of buying and selling a home.

“We have 11 people on my team, and 10 of us are moms. We have 21 kids among all of us. Everybody on my team is going through exactly what these families are going through right now,” she said. “Coming at it from the family perspective gives us a different understanding of exactly what the client is going through, and allows us to help prepare them. We promise you can do this.”

To learn more, visit AmyCherryTaylor.com. 

Emily Freehling
Emily Freehling is an award-winning journalist who helps Fredericksburg Parent and Family's advertisers tell valuable stories through magazine advertorials and videos. Emily also produces content for a wide variety of other clients and outlets. Find her on LinkedIn and at emilyfreehling.com.

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