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The race to beat El Niño for home sellers

The race to beat El Niño for home sellers

Rain_cloud_El_NiñoIf you are gearing up to sell your Los Gatos area home in the winter or early spring, be prepared for some stormy weather – it’s an El Niño year!

If you’re planning to list in winter or early spring, get the outside jobs done before the rainy season begins and makes exterior work much harder. Waiting until the rains arrive will only make these jobs more miserable to do and can cause delays.

Note: this article was originally written in September 2015 for homeowners planning to sell in the upcomming months. As of this update (February 2024) we’re well into a rainy El Niño season. For tips to make your home inviting and appealing to buyers whatever the weather, check out our article Tips for selling your home in an El Niño year on the Valley of Heart’s Delight Blog. For pre-sale preparation, keep reading below!

 

Pre-El Niño Home Sale Preparations

If you are targeting a sale during an impending rainy season, here are some suggestions for sellers on preparing your home to sell ahead of El Niño’s arrival:

  1. Create a punch list of work to do outside (and inside, too).  Do a “walk around” the outside of your home, and bring someone along who does not live there to help you to identify things which need repairing, replacing, or cleaning up. (When you see something all the time, it may seem normal to you and you  won’t realize it needs addressing.) Your Realtor is often an ideal person to help you with this list.
    • Tip! Don’t forget wet-weather specific items. Is there a gutter that drips every winter, or a part of the walkway that puddles up? You may not want (or be able) to fix everything, but making the fixes you can and preparing for the expected will make things much simpler when the rain comes.
  2. Clear leaves and tree debris off your roof and out of the gutters or have someone else do this for you.
  3. Have your roof inspected (and any needed “tune up work”) done now. Roofing companies are backlogged as it is, and the wait will get much longer once the rain and wind start comming down! Putting this off can cause major delays in getting your home on the market. Ask your Realtor (or if you don’t have one, we’d love to hear from you) to recommend a quality roofer or roofing inspection company for the task.
  4. Power wash, or at least broom clean, the dust, debris, and spider webs off the exterior of the home and walkways. Power washing may not be allowed during severe drought (check your local water restrictions). Pay special attention to the area near the front door!
  5. Paint the exterior and do any other touch-up work now. Wood trim tends to need painting every 5 years or so. If yours looks tired or neglected, it sends a signal to home buyers that other things may be neglected, too. This job can’t be done during wet weather, so get it done early to avoid unscheduled delays down the road.
  6. Do any landscaping work before it becomes a muddy mess to tackle. That includes trimming back trees or shrubs as needed to avoid excess debris during stormy weather. If you plan to spruce up a flower bed with new plants or lay down fresh sod, get them in now so they have some time to take root before heavy rains and soggy soil make that a challenge.
  7. Get any inspections done ASAP if you are just a month or two out from listing. Wet weather can halt an inspection in it’s steps! Roof and chimney inspectors won’t go on a slick roof in the rain. Damp conditions in the crawlspace are not uncommon after rain, but it can be unsafe to enter until the subfloor has dried and most property and home inspectors will not inspect when wet. You may be waiting for a perfect string of sunny days if you wait to inspect until the rain begins.

 

Some other outdoor tasks for any season:

  1. Check the sidewalk condition for safety. Is it lifted and a tripping hazard? If so, contact the town of Los Gatos (if a resident) and get it on the schedule to be repaired. (San Jose residents must pay for this themselves but that city requires a permit, which can take weeks to obtain.) For more on this, read a related article: Who maintains the sidewalks in Los Gatos – the home owner, or the town?
  2. Change exterior light bulbs if needed.
  3. Paint, polish, or replace your mailbox. Clean the hardware on your front door.
  4. Cleaning the windows, tracks, and screens can make a world of difference in buyer’s perception of how clean, maintained, and bright your home is! During the rainy season it may feel futile, but trust me you want rain hitting clean windows, not dusty windows turning muddier.

 

There will be many more things to do indoors, of course, but if you can address these outdoor items while it’s dry out, they will be far easier to tackle. If you’re looking for other inspiration and tips to make your home shine in the rain, check out our post (also listed above) Tips for selling your home in an El Niño year with information on how to make your home inviting, appealing, clean, and safe during wet weather showings and tours.

 

Case study: online home valuation sites

Are you tempted to look at online, auto valuation websites to check Los Gatos real estate values?  Those online home valuation sites (including mine) can be very tempting.  After all, who wouldn’t want a real-time update on home sale prices?

A few times, I’ve had clients or potential clients who relied very heavily on a well known real estate portal for information on “what that home is really worth“.  The trouble, of course, is that the folks running the algorithms haven’t been to that street or to that house.  They don’t know if it’s exquisitely updated or if it’s in a state of ruin.  They don’t know if it seems well loved or if it has terrible odors.  

Usually the portals have a very wide target. One of them claims that they want to be within 20% of the market value 80% of the time.  Let that soak in.  For a million dollar home, that’s  a range of $800,000 to $1,200,000 not all the time but 80% of the time!

More convincing than my saying, “hey, that site is usually way off”, I like to just demonstrate what happens when I plunk a property’s address into a number of these auto valuation sites.  I find the range of estimated pricing to be very compelling.  Please have a look at the wide range of projected values – all for the same home & land!

Online Valuations for the same house

                                       Online valuation sites. (Weiss Analytics is by paid subscription.)

How would you like to own a home worth  $2.6 million and hear that it’s worth $1.6 million from online home valuation sites?  Or what if you put your condo on the market based on this kind of pricing, only to find that it was 20% off?

No, the better approach is to have a relationship with a local Realtor who can help you determine the probable buyer’s value for your home. It’s never going to be one exact price, because each buyer will have different terms, motivation, ability, and so on. If you get a lot of offers all at one, it will shoot the price high. If it takes more than 3 weeks to sell and you get just one buyer, it will be lower.

Online home valuation sites can be fun, but please remember that most of the time, they aren’t very accurate.  Want help knowing if you have enough equity to sell? Please call or email me and we can meet and go over market conditions, the comparable sales, improvements that will give a good return on value, and the marketing needed to obtain your best price so that you can make an informed decision.