The temperature may be sizzling outside, but that doesn't mean your house has to be an oven inside as you show it this summer. In fact, steamy houses are a big turnoff to buyers who have just gotten out of an air-conditioned car and get blasted with heat and humidity once they step inside. Here are some of my tips along with five from Brad Knapp of the National Association of Realtors for sellers who have a summer listing.
1. Keep it cool. This isn't the time to skimp on air conditioning. Knapp says home owners without central air conditioning will be at a big disadvantage, and he says they might even consider keeping their home off the market until the cooler days of fall. As for home owners who do have central air, he recommends keeping the thermostat around 72 degrees to cool and dehumidify the home.
I don't necessarily agree with the absolute need for central air conditioning. My advice is that if you only have window units, by all means use them, but keep the fan speed down or turn them off just before your showings. If you have ceiling fans, keep them running on a low speed to move the now comfortable air around. I love ceiling fans.
Shutting down on showings until the fall will make you miss buyers with young families who are shopping before the school calendar kicks off.
2. Watch the smell. Warm weather can cause odors in the home to become even stronger -- especially pet smells and musty basements, Knapp says. Have your sellers remove the kitty litter box, relocate the pets for showings, and clean any musty basements with bleach. He also recommends using a dehumidifier to make sure the home is dry.
Remember home staging creator Barbara Schwarz's caution, "If you can smell it, you can't sell it." Cooking odors, especially the scents of strong spices, also can be a big turnoff on showings. Also, don't forget about the trash bins outside. Walking past a smelly garbage bin in the yard can be a big turn off.
3. Tend to the lawn. Curb appeal is important, but Knapp acknowledges it can be a challenge in hot weather and when there are water restrictions in place. Fortunately, we haven't had those in Greenwich -- at least not yet.
"Try to keep the front yard as green as possible -- but you can forget about the back yard if you have to," he says. "Most buyers are astute enough to know that if all of the backyards up and down the street are brown, there really isn't a problem if yours is, too."
I think that our buyers are fussier than that, and brown back yards just won't cut it. Brown circles of dead grass from female dog urine can also be a challenge for some lawns. A can of green Krylon paint can give sellers an emergency fix if needed. This is a trick that some home stagers use. Hey, the grass is dead already.
4. Pay attention to doors and windows. Front doors can be filled with summer pollen, so make sure your sellers clean at least once a week, Knapp suggests to realtors. He also suggests regularly cleaning the windows -- both the inside and out -- to make sure they sparkle.
That's good advice any time of the year. No matter how dirty the windows are of the buyers' current apartment or home, they'll have their white gloves on when they visit yours. Remember that clean is one of the three Cs of home staging: Clean, Clutter-free, and Color acceptable.
5. Provide school information. If your home is suitable for young families with children, Knapp suggests leaving brochures and contact information for all the nearby public and private schools on a table in your home where buyers can see them. Most schools are closed during the summer, but school boards, superintendents and other school administrators typically work year-round and can provide tours or answer questions.
There's no question that summer can be a difficult time to show your home, but using these tips may get the interest in your home sizzling.
If you've been reading my column for any length of time, you may remember my tip on a miracle product for cleaning and shining stainless steel sinks -- Glide. It's a mineral oil-based lubricant that is food-safe and without the strong odor of WD-40, another lubricant that stagers can use to shine up stainless steel sinks and appliances.
I needed to shine my shoes last week and was pressed for time, and then the thought hit me: Why not try Glide? Wow! A paper towel with a spray of Glide cleaned and polished my shoes almost to a patent leather appearance. If you have Glide, give it a try. You'll be surprised. Readers ask me where they can buy it and the nearest retailer that I know has it is Wallauer in Port Chester.
Ken Edwards is the principal broker for Edwards & Associates and has lived in town since 1974. All opinions expressed in this column are entirely his own and not those of this publisher. Comments, questions and suggestions may be sent to K_W_Edwards@Yahoo.com or by phone or text at 203-918-4444. Questions of general interest will be addressed in this column, while others will receive individual responses.