So you’re selling a home in San Antonio. After hearing rave reviews about the ever-improving home values, tremendous area growth, and the sudden influx of millennials, you’ve taken the leap to join the elite ranks of the San Antonio housing market...or should we say the San Antonio seller’s market! As a seller, you’re kind of like Alamo City real estate royalty right now.
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If you aren’t familiar with the latest market trends, here’s the scoop: in recent years, demand has skyrocketed for San Antonio homes, while the supply has remained fairly steady. The ratio of sellers to buyers are unbalanced...as population growth has fueled a serious demand for vacant homes, current residents are still sitting pretty, and new neighborhoods can’t be built fast enough.
Simply put: sellers hold a serious advantage in this kind of market.
Hearing these magic words, maybe you prepared yourself for immediate and total success when you put your home on the market. Surely potential buyers will line up around the block with offers way above asking price! And maybe they did...but then again, maybe they didn’t. Maybe offers came in aplenty, but they haven’t been hitting the right price point. Why might your home’s value be lower than you expected? The answer might be more obvious than you think. Several factors have the potential to either hurt or help your home’s selling value by thousands of dollars; and, while some out of your control, others are potentially an easy fix.
1. Overall Location
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We’ll start with a selling factor that’s totally out of your control: location. The widely held real estate adage, “Location, location, location!” is as cliche as it is true. Your home’s pinpoint on the map is worth almost everything to a potential buyer. And, while there are indeed areas to avoid, what qualifies as a “favorable area” is different for different demographics. A home on the Northwest side might appeal to a growing family looking for an affordable home with space to grow, whereas the Alamo Heights neighborhood draws in buyers looking for mid-century details and old-world luxury. Southtown buyers might look for walkability and distance to the nearest art gallery, whereas those house hunting in the Stone Oak area are assessing top schools and proximity to the medical center. Our advice? Know your audience. If you live in a location that draws in a specific demographic, cater to those buyers. Highlight positive features of the area, and create an atmosphere that lines up with your potential buyers’ new life!
2. Surrounding Streets:
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It seems the era of the urban pedestrian has re-emerged...“walkability” has become an extremely desirable trait in American cities, and San Antonio is no exception. While San Antonio is still a largely car-dependent city, many neighborhoods have increased their walk score quite a bit! As more and more residents are looking to live in areas with bike paths, public transportation routes, and attractive streets, the walkability of your neighborhood has the potential to affect your home’s value. Additionally, if your home is surrounded by busy streets or high-traffic areas, potential buyers might fear unpleasant noise and question the home’s level of safety. Find out your neighborhood’s walk score here and factor this information into your home’s value.
3. Size and Layout
Naturally, the size and layout of your home have to correspond to your potential buyer’s wants and needs. The square footage, specific floor plan, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms can seriously impact your home’s value. Though at one point in time, buyers believed “the more square footage, the better,” it seems current buyers are using a more moderate approach. Whereas tiny homes still aren’t a widespread phenomenon (yet...), overly large homes also seem inconvenient, hinting at excess and a whole lot of cleaning. Likewise, configuration of your home is important to buyers. An open floor plan with an extra bathroom certainly never hurt anyone.
4. Age as It Relates to Updates
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While you might be tempted to believe that homes always decrease in value with age, this isn’t necessarily true. In some old homes, buyers fall in love with well-maintained details (clawfoot tubs, large windows, exposed wood, tall ceilings, etc). In others, these same details can seem like a major hindrance: out-of-date and unreliable. The difference between the two? It seems the secret of turning “age” into “charm” lies in maintaining the home’s best features and adding the right updates. Every decade held its fair share of fabulous and shudder-worthy design trends. Highlight your home’s best features and rip out its dated ones...starting with that shag carpet.
5. Right Renovations vs Wrong Renovations
Most likely the biggest (and most expensive) mistake sellers face is putting time, money, and energy into the wrong renovations in the wrong rooms. Common mistakes include: focusing too much on one area of the house, spending too much money on luxury upgrades, renovating according to your very specific taste, and any kind of carpeting. Instead, experts recommend focusing on three particular areas: kitchen, master bathroom, and master bedroom. For many working people, these are the areas of the home that are truly lived in...rooms of retreat from the busyness of the day. Focus on the basics rather than the luxuries; these prove to have the greatest return on investment. Improving these spaces give you the best chance to increase your selling point! As you consider various projects, make sure your upgrades match up with the rest of the house. A standard home with an insane kitchen has the potential to make the rest of the house look shabby in comparison. Plan your renovations strategically.
6. Aesthetically Pleasing
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This may seem like rule #1 when it comes to selling your home...but it still bears repeating: clean, attractive homes always sell best. A surprisingly high number of buyers cite that the “feel” they get walking through a home is nearly as important as the objective facts. As a seller, you can’t risk simply asking buyers to “see the potential.” You have to show it to them. Clear your home of evidence of pets, spend that extra time and money on a deep clean, and clear out the clutter. One of the best things you can do for your home’s value is make it appear bright, clean, and effortless. Turn on the lights. Open the curtains. Clear off the shelves. Welcome in the offers.
7. Which Homes are Nearby?
When a selling a home, it’s important to remember that everything is relative to the surrounding neighborhood. Context is huge when determining home value! If your home is a large, luxury property in the middle of a mid-range neighborhood, the extra square footage and features might actually hurt your sale. Likewise, the simplest house in a luxury neighborhood will be more difficult to sell. For this reason, experts recommend keeping an eye on the neighborhood when making improvements. If your home is “over improved” compared to the surrounding homes, buyers might veer away from it. Additionally, your property might not “appraise out” if there aren’t comparable sales in the area. Another factor to consider: every nearby foreclosure has the potential to chop $7,200 off your property value.
8. Curb Appeal...or Curb Un-appeal
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t really apply to the housing market. Instead, “Judge a home by its yard” is a rule that takes full effect. An unappealing first impression can do a good deal of damage to your home’s value. Overgrown grass, unsightly branches, or an unkempt porch can hint at high-maintenance upkeep and low-quality home features. But note: amping up your curb appeal doesn’t have to mean planting a full garden or buying expensive lawn furniture. Instead, make your home’s “storefront” clean, well-kept, and simple.
9. Energy Efficiency
Those solar panels on the roof are doing more than making your house look cool. In increasing numbers, studies have shown that energy efficient homes are gaining resale value by the thousands. Besides looking to reduce their carbon footprint, many buyers are looking for homes that are low cost to maintain. Time and time again, energy efficient homes turn out cheaper utility bills and a much more sustainable lifestyle. Click here for a list of 50 ways to make your home more energy-efficient!
As new residents come in droves and the real estate market continues to improve, we want to ensure your home gets the proper credit it deserves. Our advice? Fix what you can, minimize what you can’t, and always keep your potential buyer in mind. Contact one of our expert REALTOR®s to get started today!